Poems, by Andrew Marvell

Upon the Death of the Lord Hastings


Go, intercept some Fountam in the Vain,

Whose Virgin-source yet never steept the Plain.

Hastings is dead, and we must finde a store

Of tears untoucht, and never wept before.

Go, stand betwixt the Morning and the Flowers;

And, ere they fa11, arrest the early Showers.

Hastings is dead; and we, disconsolate,

With early Tears, must mourn his early Fate.

Alas, his Vertues did his Death presage;

Needs must he die, that doth out-run his Age.10

The Phlegmatick and Slow prolongs his day.

And on Times Wheel sticks like a Remora.

What man is he, that hath not Heaven beguil’d.

And is not thence mistaken for a Child?

While those of growth more sudden, and more bold,

Are hurried hence, as if already old.

For, there above, They number not as here.

But weigh to man the Geometrick yeer.

Had he but at this Measure still increast.

And on the Tree of Life once made a Feast,20

As that of Knowledge, what Loves had he given

To Earth, and then what Jealousies to Heaven!

But ’tis a Maxime of that State, That none,

Least He become like Them, taste more then one.

Therefore the Democratick Stars do rise,

And all that Worth from hence did Ostracize.

Yet as some Prince, that, for State Jealousie,

Secures his neerest and most lov’d Ally;

His Thought with richest Triumphs entertains,

And in the choicest Pleasures charms his Pains:30

So he, not banisht hence, but there confin’d,

There better recreates his active Minde.

Before the Crystal Palace where he dwells,

The Armed Angels hold their Carouzels;

And underneath, he views the Turnaments

Of all these Sublunary Elements.

But most he doth th’ Eternal Book behold,

On which the happy James do stand enroll’d;

And gladly there can all his Kindred claim.

But most rejoyces at his Mothers name.40

The Gods themselves cannot their Joy conceal.

But draw their veils, and their pure Beams reveal:

Only they drooping Hymeneus note,

Who for sad Purple, tears his Saffron-coat:

And trails his Torches th’row the Starry Hall

Reversed, at his Darlings Funeral.

And AEsculapius, who, asham’d and stern,

Himself at once condemneth and Mayern;

like some sad Chymist, who, prepared to reap

The Golden Haervest, sees his Glasses leap.50

For, how Immortal must their Face have stood,

Had Mayern once been mixed with Hastings blood!

How sweet and Verdant would these Lawrels be,

Had they been planted on that Balsam-tree!

But what could he, good man, although he bruis’d

All Herbs, and them a thousand ways infus’d?

All he had try’d, but all in vain, he saw.

And wept, as we, without Redress or Law.

For Man (alas) is but the Heavens sport;

And Art indeed is Long, but Life is Short.60

From ‘Musarum Lachrymae’ (1649)

The Subject of these and of the other ‘ numerous tears’ of the Volume was Lord Henry Hastings, eldest son of Ferdinando sixth Earl of Huntingdon, by Lucy, daughter and heir of Sir John Davis, of Englefield, Berks, Kt. He died of small-pox in his twentieth year, Jnne 24th, 1649. His character and attain- ments were lamented in no fewer than ninety-eight Elegies in the Volmne whence the above is taken — almost equal to the number on William Cartwright.

Line 12, remora = delay or drag. The sucker-fish Echeneis Remora originates the name. When fixed on the rudder, it was held by the ancients to be able to stay a ship’s course. Gf. Pliny, N. H. s. v.

Line 18, geometrick year, Cf . First Anniversary, &c. (1. 17), and relative note.

Lines 20-24. Cf. Genesis iii. 1 et seq.

Line 28, Ally=relative, and frequently so used by old au- thors. The word also was used to express relationship by con- sanguinity as well as connection by marriage.

Line 43, Hymeneus=Hymen or Marriage. Hymen, instead of putting on sad purple (which is=violet, the old mourning colour), rends his saffron coat. Saffron was the colour of wo- men’s dresses on gala or solemn occasions, e.g. Iphigenia was sacrificed in saffron robes, and Roman brides wore a saffron- coloured veil. Perhaps a memorial remnant of this still exists in our orange-blossoms.

Line 46, ‘reversed.’ As are lances, pikes, and muskets, &c. at a funeral.

Line 48, Mayern — a now-forgotten physician. Lines 51-2 show, as does Hymeneus, some project of marriage between young Hastings and the Mayerns.

Line 50, golden harvest=Alchemist and his ‘searching’ for ‘gold.’
Leap — and break, i. e. from the succussion or explosion of the materials within.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58