Poems, by Andrew Marvell

A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body


O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise

A soul enslaved so many ways?

With bolts of bones, that fettered stands

In feet, and manacled in hands;

Here blinded with an eye, and there

Deaf with the drumming of an ear;

A soul hung up, as ’twere, in chains

Of nerves, and arteries, and veins;

Tortured, besides each other part,

In a vain head, and double heart?


O, who shall me deliver whole,

From bonds of this tyrannic soul?

Which, stretched upright, impales me so

That mine own precipice I go;

And warms and moves this needless frame,

(A fever could but do the same),

And, wanting where its spite to try,

Has made me live to let me die

A body that could never rest,

Since this ill spirit it possessed.


What magic could me thus confine

Within another’s grief to pine?

Where, whatsoever it complain,

I feel, that cannot feel, the pain;

And all my care itself employs,

That to preserve which me destroys;

Constrained not only to endure

Diseases, but, what’s worse, the cure;

And, ready oft the port to gain,

Am shipwrecked into health again.


But Physic yet could never reach

The maladies thou me dost teach;

Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,

And then the palsy shakes of fear;

The pestilence of love does heat,

Or hatred’s hidden ulcer eat;

Joy’s cheerful madness does perplex,

Or sorrow’s other madness vex;

Which knowledge forces me to know,

And memory will not forego;

What but a soul could have the wit

To build me up for sin so fit?

So architects do square and hew

Green trees that in the forest grew.


Last updated Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 11:14