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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In recent times, Marvell’s lyric poems have been increasingly read with an eye to the social and the topical: the sociabilities of the author, the topicalities of his verse. This essay faces in another direction, suggesting that in poems like ‘The Nymph Complaining’ the topical was a means for Marvell to explore inward matter, an occasion to see the interior life projected into the world. In such lyrics, Marvell discovers two distinct sites of suspension or coming-to-be: tears, in which categories and differences are dissolved; childhood, where the conditions of differentiation that underlie the adult order are suspended or elided. The poet’s fascination with the figure of the child reveals a preoccupation with a pre-sexual state altogether congruent with the primal oneness imagined in the ‘Mower’ poems and ‘The Garden’ and adventured so achingly in ‘The Nymph Complaining’. Such a reading as we propose uncovers the strange and compelling fit of the ontological and the psychological in Marvell’s work.

Keywords: being, becoming, child, difference/undifference, dissolution, ontology, somatic, tears, topicality, wholeness

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