Andrew Marvell

1621-1678

 

Andrew Marvell is buried in St.Giles-in-the-Fields, St Giles High Street, London, England. His body was interred under the pews in the south aisle next to the pulpit.
 

Tablet to Andrew Marvell.
Photograph by David Conway
 

Marvell was educated at Hull Grammar School and Trinity College Cambridge.

Between 1650-1652 Marvell was the tutor to Mary Fairfax at Nun Appleton in Yorkshire. During this period it is believed that he wrote The Garden, the Mower poems and Upon Appleton House. The following year he became tutor to Oliver Cromwell's ward William Dutton. In 1654 he began his career as Cromwell's unofficial Laureate writing such poems as An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland  and Upon the Death of his Late Highness the Lord Protector.

In 1657 he was appointed Latin secretary to the council of state - a post previously held by his friend John Milton. At the time of the Restoration Marvell was instrumental in securing the release of Milton from prison. 

In 1659 he was elected MP for Hull and represented the town for the next 20 years. (His memorial tablet in St. Giles-in-the-Fields celebrates his virtues as a member of parliament rather than as a poet.)

During his life Marvell was regarded as a satirist and a wit rather than as a lyric poet. In the 20th Century Marvell's work was re-evaluated by T.S. Eliot and his enigmatic poetry now receives considerable academic interest.

Statue of Marvell in Hull.

 

Marvell died on 16th August 1678 at his house in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury while receiving treatment for the tertian ague - although it was rumoured at the time that he had been poisoned by Jesuits.

See metaphysical poets and ode.

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

From To His Coy Mistress  (complete poem)

Read more of Marvell's poetry

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