Poems, by Andrew Marvell

The First Anniversary

of the Government under His Highness the Lord Protector.

[1655]

Like the vain Curlings of the Watry maze,

Which in smooth streams a sinking Weight does raise;

So Man, declining alwayes, disappears.

In the Weak Circles of increasing Years;

And his short Tumults of themselves Compose,

While flowing Time above his Head does close.

Cromwell alone with greater Vigour runs,

(Sun-like) the Stages of succeeding Suns:

And still the Day which he doth next restore,

Is the just Wonder of the Day before.

Cromwell alone doth with new Lustre spring,

And shines the Jewel of the yearly Ring.

’Tis he the force of scatter’d Time contracts,

And in one Year the Work of Ages acts:

While heavy Monarchs make a wide Return,

Longer, and more Malignant then Saturn:

And though they all Platonique years should raign,

In the same Posture would be found again.

Their earthly Projects under ground they lay,

More slow and brittle then the China clay:

Well may they strive to leave them to their Son,

For one Thing never was by one King don.

Yet some more active for a Frontier Town

Took in by Proxie, beggs a false Renown;

Another triumphs at the publick Cost,

And will have Wonn, if he no more have Lost;

They fight by Others, but in Person wrong,

And only are against their Subjects strong;

Their other Wars seem but a feign’d contest,

This Common Enemy is still opprest;

If Conquerors, on them they turn their might;

If Conquered, on them they wreak their Spight:

They neither build the Temple in their dayes,

Nor Matter for succeeding Founders raise;

Nor Sacred Prophecies consult within,

Much less themselves to perfect them begin,

No other care they bear of things above,

But with Astrologers divine, and Jove,

To know how long their Planet yet Reprives

From the deserved Fate their guilty lives:

Thus (Image-like) and useless time they tell,

And with vain Scepter strike the hourly Bell;

Nor more contribute to the state of Things,

Then wooden Heads unto the Viols strings,

While indefatigable Cromwell hyes,

And cuts his way still nearer to the Skyes,

Learning a Musique in the Region clear,

To tune this lower to that higher Sphere.

So when Amphion did the Lute command,

Which the God gave him, with his gentle hand,

The rougher Stones, unto his Measures hew’d,

Dans’d up in order from the Quarreys rude;

This took a Lower, that an Higher place,

As he the Treble alter’d, or the Base:

No Note he struck, but a new Story lay’d,

And the great Work ascended while he play’d.

The listning Structures he with Wonder ey’d,

And still new Stopps to various Time apply’d:

Now through the Strings a Martial rage he throws,

And joyng streight the Theban Tow’r arose;

Then as he strokes them with a Touch more sweet,

The flocking Marbles in a Palace meet;

But, for he most the graver Notes did try,

Therefore the Temples rear’d their Columns high:

Thus, ere he ceas’d, his sacred Lute creates

Th’harmonious City of the seven Gates.

Such was that wondrous Order and Consent,

When Cromwell tun’d the ruling Instrument;

While tedious Statesmen many years did hack,

Framing a Liberty that still went back;

Whose num’rous Gorge could swallow in an hour

That Island, which the Sea cannot devour:

Then our Amphion issues out and sings,

And once he struck, and twice, the pow’rful Strings.

The Commonwealth then first together came,

And each one enter’d in the willing Frame;

All other Matter yields, and may be rul’d;

But who the Minds of stubborn Men can build?

No Quarry bears a Stone so hardly wrought,

Nor with such labour from its Center brought;

None to be sunk in the Foundation bends,

Each in the House the highest Place contends,

And each the Hand that lays him will direct,

And some fall back upon the Architect;

Yet all compos’d by his attractive Song,

Into the Animated City throng.

The Common-wealth does through their Centers all

Draw the Circumf’rence of the publique Wall;

The crossest Spirits here do take their part,

Fast’ning the Contignation which they thwart;

And they, whose Nature leads them to divide,

Uphold, this one, and that the other Side;

But the most Equal still sustein the Height,

And they as Pillars keep the Work upright;

While the resistance of opposed Minds,

The Fabrick as with Arches stronger binds,

Which on the Basis of a Senate free,

Knit by the Roofs Protecting weight agree.

When for his Foot he thus a place had found,

He hurles e’r since the World about him round,

And in his sev’ral Aspects, like a Star,

Here shines in Peace, and thither shoots a War.

While by his Beams observing Princes steer,

And wisely court the Influence they fear,

O would they rather by his Pattern won.

Kiss the approaching, nor yet angry Son;

And in their numbred Footsteps humbly tread

The path where holy Oracles do lead;

How might they under such a Captain raise

The great Designs kept for the latter Dayes!

But mad with reason, so miscall’d, of State

They know them not, and what they know not, hate

Hence still they sing Hosanna to the Whore,

And her whom they should Massacre adore:

But Indians whom they should convert, subdue;

Nor teach, but traffique with, or burn the Jew.

Unhappy Princes, ignorantly bred,

By Malice some, by Errour more misled;

If gracious Heaven to my Life give length,

Leisure to Times, and to my Weakness Strength,

Then shall I once with graver Accents shake

Your Regal sloth, and your long Slumbers wake:

Like the shrill Huntsman that prevents the East,

Winding his Horn to Kings that chase the Beast.

Till then my Muse shall hollow far behind

Angelique Cromwell who outwings the wind;

And in dark Nights, and in cold Dayes alone

Pursues the Monster thorough every Throne:

Which shrinking to her Roman Den impure,

Gnashes her Goary teeth; nor there secure.

Hence oft I think, if in some happy Hour

High Grace should meet in one with highest Pow’r,

And then a seasonable People still

Should bend to his, as he to Heavens will,

What we might hope, what wonderful Effect

From such a wish’d Conjuncture might reflect.

Sure, the mysterious Work, where none withstand,

Would forthwith finish under such a Hand:

Fore-shortned Time its useless Course would stay,

And soon precipitate the latest Day.

But a thick Cloud about that Morning lyes,

And intercepts the Beams of Mortal eyes,

That ’tis the most which we deteremine can,

If these the Times, then this must be the Man.

And well he therefore does, and well has guest,

Who in his Age has always forward prest:

And knowing not where Heavens choice may light,

Girds yet his Sword, and ready stands to fight;

But Men alas, as if they nothing car’d,

Look on, all unconcern’d, or unprepar’d;

And Stars still fall, and still the Dragons Tail

Swinges the Volumes of its horrid Flail.

For the great Justice that did first suspend

The World by Sin, does by the same extend.

Hence that blest Day still counterpoysed wastes,

The ill delaying, what th’Elected hastes;

Hence landing Nature to new Seas it tost,

And good Designes still with their Authors lost.

And thou, great Cromwell, for whose happy birth

A Mold was chosen out of better Earth;

Whose Saint-like Mother we did lately see

Live out an Age, long as a Pedigree;

That she might seem, could we the Fall dispute,

T’have smelt the Blossome, and not eat the Fruit;

Though none does of more lasting Parents grow,

But never any did them Honor so;

Though thou thine Heart from Evil still unstain’d,

And always hast thy Tongue from fraud refrain’d,

Thou, who so oft through Storms of thundring Lead

Hast born securely thine undaunted Head,

Thy Brest through ponyarding Conspiracies,

Drawn from the Sheath of lying Prophecies;

Thee proof beyond all other Force or Skill,

Our Sins endanger, and shall one day kill.

How near they fail’d, and in thy sudden Fall

At once assay’d to overturn us all.

Our brutish fury strugling to be Free,

Hurry’d thy Horses while they hurry’d thee.

When thou hadst almost quit thy Mortal cares,

And soyl’d in Dust thy Crown of silver Hairs.

Let this one Sorrow interweave among

The other Glories of our yearly Song.

Like skilful Looms which through the costly threed

Of purling Ore, a shining wave do shed:

So shall the Tears we on past Grief employ,

Still as they trickle, glitter in our Joy.

So with more Modesty we may be True,

And speak as of the Dead the Praises due:

While impious Men deceiv’d with pleasure short,

On their own Hopes shall find the Fall retort.

But the poor Beasts wanting their noble Guide,

What could they move? shrunk guiltily aside.

First winged Fear transports them far away,

And leaden Sorrow then their flight did stay.

See how they each his towring Crest abate,

And the green Grass, and their known Mangers hate,

Nor through wide Nostrils snuffe the wanton air,

Nor their round Hoofs, or curled Mane’scompare;

With wandring Eyes, and restless Ears theystood,

And with shrill Neighings ask’d him of the Wood.

Thou Cromwell falling, not a stupid Tree,

Or Rock so savage, but it mourn’d for thee:

And all about was heard a Panique groan,

As if that Natures self were overthrown.

It seem’d the Earth did from the Center tear;

It seem’d the Sun was faln out of the Sphere:

Justice obstructed lay, and Reason fool’d;

Courage disheartned, and Religion cool’d.

A dismal Silence through the Palace went,

And then loud Shreeks the vaulted Marbles rent.

Such as the dying Chorus sings by turns,

And to deaf Seas, and ruthless Tempests mourns,

When now they sink, and now the plundring Streams

Break up each Deck, and rip the Oaken seams.

But thee triumphant hence the firy Carr,

And firy Steeds had born out of the Warr,

From the low World, and thankless Men above,

Unto the Kingdom blest of Peace and Love:

We only mourn’d our selves, in thine Ascent,

Whom thou hadst lest beneath with Mantle rent.

For all delight of Life thou then didst lose,

When to Command, thou didst thy self Depose;

Resigning up thy Privacy so dear,

To turn the headstrong Peoples Charioteer;

For to be Cromwell was a greater thing,

Then ought below, or yet above a King:

Therefore thou rather didst thy Self depress,

Yielding to Rule, because it made thee Less.

For, neither didst thou from the first apply

Thy sober Spirit unto things too High,

But in thine own Fields exercisedst long,

An Healthful Mind within a Body strong;

Till at the Seventh time thou in the Skyes,

As a small Cloud, like a Mans hand didst rise;

Then did thick Mists and Winds the air deform,

And down at last thou pow’rdst the fertile Storm;

Which to the thirsty Land did plenty bring,

But though forewarn’d, o’r-took and wet the King.

What since he did, an higher Force him push’d

Still from behind, and it before him rush’d,

Though undiscern’d among the tumult blind,

Who think those high Decrees by Man design’d.

’Twas Heav’n would not that his Pow’r should cease,

But walk still middle betwixt War and Peace;

Choosing each Stone, and poysing every weight,

Trying the Measures of the Bredth and Height;

Here pulling down, and there erecting New,

Founding a firm State by Proportions true.

When Gideon so did from the War retreat,

Yet by Conquest of two Kings grown great,

He on the Peace extends a Warlike power,

And Is’rel silent saw him rase the Tow’r;

And how he Succoths Elders durst suppress,

With Thorns and Briars of the Wilderness.

No King might ever such a Force have done;

Yet would not he be Lord, nor yet his Son.

Thou with the same strength, and an Heart as plain,

Didst (like thine Olive) still refuse to Reign;

Though why should others all thy Labor spoil,

And Brambles be anointed with thine Oyl,

Whose climbing Flame, without a timely stop,

Had quickly Levell’d every Cedar’s top.

Therefore first growing to thy self a Law,

Th’ambitious Shrubs thou in just time didst aw.

So have I seen at Sea, when whirling Winds,

Hurry the Bark, but more the Seamens minds,

Who with mistaken Course salute the Sand,

And threat’ning Rocks misapprehend for Land;

While balefull Tritons to the shipwrack guide,

And Corposants along the Tacklings slide.

The Passengers all wearyed out before,

Giddy, and wishing for the fatall Shore;

Some lusty Mate, who with more carefull Ey

Counted the Hours, and ev’ry Star did spy,

The Helm does from the artless Steersman strain,

And doubles back unto the safer Main.

What though a while they grumble discontent,

Saving himself he does their loss prevent.

’Tis not a Freedome, that where All command;

Nor Tyranniey, where One does them withstand:

But who of both the Bounders knows to lay

Him as their Father must the State obey.

Thou, and thine House, like Noahs Eight did rest,

Left by the Warrs Flood on the Mountains crest:

And the large Vale lay subject to thy Will,

Which thou but as an Husbandman wouldst Till:

And only didst for others plant the Vine

Of Liberty, not drunken with its Wine.

That sober Liberty which men may have,

That they enjoy, but more they vainly crave:

And such as to their Parents Tents do press,

May shew their own, not see his Nakedness.

Yet such a Chammish issue still does rage,

The Shame and Plague both of the Land and Age,

Who watch’d thy halting, and thy Fall deride,

Rejoycing when thy Foot had slipt aside;

That their new King might the fifth Scepter shake,

And make the World, by his Example, Quake:

Whose frantique Army should they want for Men

Might muster Heresies, so one were ten.

What thy Misfortune, they the Spirit call,

And their Religion only is to Fall.

Oh Mahomet! now couldst thou rise again,

Thy Falling sicknes should have made thee Reign,

While Feake and Simpson would in many a Tome,

Have writ the Comments of thy sacred Foame:

For soon thou mightst have past among their Rant

Wer’t but for thine unmoved Tulipant;

As thou must needs have own’d them of thy band

For Prophecies fit to be Alcorand.

Accursed Locusts, whom your King does spit

Out of the Center of th’ unbottom’d Pit;

Wand’rers, Adult’rers, Lyers, Munser’s rest,

Sorcerers, Atheists, Jesuites, Possest;

You who the Scriptures and the Laws deface

With the same liberty as Points and Lace;

Oh Race most hypocritically strict!

Bent to reduce us to the ancient Pict;

Well may you act the Adam and the Eve;

Ay, and the Serpent too that did deceive.

But the great Captain, now the danger’s ore,

Makes you for his sake Tremble one fit more;

And, to your spight, returning yet alive

Does with himself all that is good revive.

So when first Man did through the Morning new

See the bright Sun his shining Race pursue,

All day he follow’d with unwearied sight,

Pleas’d with that other World of moving Light;

But thought him when he miss’d his setting beams,

Sunk in the Hills, or plung’d below the Streams.

While dismal blacks hung round the Universe,

And Stars (like Tapers) burn’d upon his Herse:

And Owls and Ravens with their screeching noyse

Did make the Fun’rals sadder by their Joyes.

His weeping Eys the dolefull Vigils keep,

Not knowing yet the Night was made for sleep:

Still to the West, where he him lost, he turn’d,

And with such accents, as Despairing, mourn’d:

Why did mine Eyes once see so bright a Ray;

Or why Day last no longer than a Day?

When streight the Sun behind him he descry’d,

Smiling serenely from the further side.

So while our Star that gives us Light and Heat,

Seem’d now a long and gloomy Night to threat,

Up from the other World his Flame he darts,

And Princes, shining through their windows, starts;

Who their suspected Counsellors refuse,

And credulous Ambassadors accuse.

“Is this,” saith one, “the Nation that we read

Spent with both Wars, under a Captain dead?

Yet rig a Navy while we dress us late;

And ere we Dine, rase and rebuild our State.

What Oaken Forrests, and what golden Mines!

What Mints of Men, what Union of Designes!

Unless their Ships, do, as their Fowle proceed

Of shedding Leaves, that with their Ocean breed.

Theirs are not Ships, but rather Arks of War,

And beaked Promontories sail’d from farr;

Of floting Islands a new Hatched Nest;

A Fleet of Worlds, of other Worlds in quest;

An hideous shole of wood-Leviathans,

Arm’d with three Tire of brazen Hurricans;

That through the Center shoot their thundring side

And sink the Earth that does at Anchor ride.

What refuge to escape them can be found,

Whose watry Leaguers all the world surround?

Needs must we all their Tributaries be,

Whose Navies hold the Sluces of the Sea.

The Ocean is the Fountain of Command,

But that once took, we Captives are on Land:

And those that have the Waters for their share,

Can quickly leave us neither Earth nor Air.

Yet if through these our Fears could find a pass;

Through double Oak, & lin’d with treble Brass;

That one Man still, although but nam’d, alarms

More then all Men, all Navies, and all Arms.

Him, all the Day, Him, in late Nights I dread,

And still his Sword seems hanging o’re my head.

The Nation had been ours, but his one Soul

Moves the great Bulk, and animates the whole.

He Secrecy with Number hath inchas’d,

Courage with Age, Maturity with Hast:

The Valiants Terror, Riddle of the Wise;

And still his Fauchion all our Knots unties.

Where did he learn those Arts that cost us dear?

Where below Earth, or where above the Sphere?

He seems a King by long Succession born,

And yet the same to be a King does scorn.

Abroad a King he seems, and something more,

At Home a Subject on the equal Floor.

O could I once him with our Title see,

So should I hope yet he might Dye as wee.

But let them write his Praise that love him best,

It grieves me sore to have thus much confest.”

Pardon, great Prince, if thus their Fear or Spight

More then our Love and Duty do thee Right.

I yield, nor further will the Prize contend;

So that we both alike may miss our End:

While thou thy venerable Head dost raise

As far above their Malice as my Praise.

And as the Angel of our Commonweal,

Troubling the Waters, yearly mak’st them Heal.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/marvell/andrew/poems/poem43.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09