Andrew Marvell

Soundings Index

Thoughts in a Garden

 How vainly men themselves amaze
 To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
 And their uncessant labours see
 Crown'd from some single herb or tree,
 Whose short and narrow-verged shade
 Does prudently their toils upbraid;
 While all the flowers and trees do close
 To weave the garlands of repose!

 Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
 And Innocence thy sister dear?
 Mistaken long, I sought you then
 In busy companies of men:
 Your sacred plants, if here below
 Only among the plants will grow:
 Society is all but rude
 To this delicious solitude.

 No white nor red was ever seen
 So amorous as this lovely green.
 fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
 cut in these trees their mistress' name:
 Little, alas! they know or heed
 How far these beauties hers exceed!
 Fair trees! wheres'e'er your barks I would
 No name shall but your own be found.

 When we have run our passions' heat,
 Love hither makes his best retreat:
 The gods, that mortal beauty chase,
 Still in a tree did end their race;
 Apollo hunted Daphne so
 Only that she might laurel grow;
 And Pan did after Syrinx speed
 Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

 What wondrous life in this I lead!
 Ripe apples drop about my head;
 The luscious clusters of the vine
 Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
 The nectarine and curious peach
 Into my hands themselves do reach;
 Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
 Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

 Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less
 Withdraws into its happiness;
 The mind, that Ocean where each kind
 Does straight its own resemblance find
 Yet it creates, transcending these,
 Far other worlds, and other seas;
 Annihilating all that's made
 To a green thought in a green shade.

 Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
 Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
 Casting the body's vest aside,
 My soul into the boughs does glide;
 There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
 Then whets and combs its silver wings,
 And, till prepared for longer flight,
 Waves in its plumes the various light.

 Such was that happy Garden-state
 While man there walk'd without a mate:
 After a place so pure and sweet,
 What other help could yet be meet!
 But 'twas beyond a mortal's share
 To wander solitary there:
 Two paradises 'twere in one,
 To live in Paradise alone.

 How well the skilful gard'ner drew
 Of flowers and herbs this dial new!
 Where, from above, the milder sun
 Does through a fragrant zodiac run:
 And, as it works, th' industrious bee
 Computes its time as well as we.
 How could such sweet and wholesome hours
 be reckon'd, but with herbs and flowers!

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