Abstract and Keywords
The Machiavellian dimension to the portrayal of Cromwell in ‘An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’ has long been recognized. The first part of this essay moves beyond existing interpretations to situate Marvell’s political poem in relation to the poetics of post-Machiavellian political discourse as it was understood and practised in a Europe-wide context, with a particular focus on translation between England, Italy, and Spain. Recovering the peculiar ‘wit’ of the sententia, which lay in its relation to action, enables us better to appreciate the complexity and subtlety with which Marvell created a contemporary Horatian voice. The second part of the essay turns to the characters of the action, analysing how that distinctive voice allows room for genuine drama without ever fully identifying with it; identity, in fact, is one of the things most troublingly problematized by the political poetics of the ‘Ode’.
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