Abstract and Keywords
This chapter tries to isolate what is distinctive about Marvell’s lyric voice, by examining his comparisons with classical history and literature. It argues that his poetry is both reassured and repelled by ideas of decorum and resemblance, especially in relation to poetic ‘wit’, a category his verse regularly identifies with political prudence. This dividedness is demonstrated by exploring Marvell’s running obsession with classical architectural motifs and his fascination with the problematics of translation and pastoral figuration. It is partly derived, the chapter argues, from a heightened sense of contemporary historical rupture, and the pressures which civil war, regicide, and Protectorate placed on timely (that is, historically decorous) action or utterance. But it is also, it suggests, linked to more personal fears of alienation and self-exposure.
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