This Newsletter was published on Monday 16 April 2012

Marvell’s Intellectualized Nymphs: A Reconsideration of Mary Fairfax and “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn”

by Kora Vidnovic (Independent Scholar)

I. Introduction: the Elusive Nymphs

An initial examination of the female personae in Andrew Marvell’s poetry seems to reveal a distinct discrepancy between his treatment of older and younger women.  However, the success or failure of these poetic portraits also hinges on elements of power and sexuality, particularly the allure of innocence and virginity as compared to worldliness and experience.  Michael DiSanto, in “Andrew Marvell’s Ambivalence toward Adult Sexuality,” investigates what he terms “the problems surrounding the presence of powerful and attractive nymphets and threatening adult women in Marvell’s poems” (166), but he is most interested in the degree to which Marvell’s “constellation of language…is constantly and obsessively concerned with sexuality and virginity” (167).  DiSanto argues that “Marvell’s own sexuality is manifested in his art” (168), equating the poet with the speaker who demonstrates a decided fascination with virginal young girls and a pronounced fear of adult women.  While this conclusion could perhaps explain the puzzling (and thorough) exclusion of Lady Fairfax from “Upon Appleton House,” a criterion of sexuality alone leads to a chronic underestimation of the intellectual force of Marvell’s female characters.  A study of the “intellectualized nymphs” in “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn,” and “Upon Appleton House” reveals that these are the successful female figures— powerful and highly aware young women who display a remarkable connection to nature and often a direct influence over it, who master their poetic environments while remaining reconcilable with the pastoral framework.

II. A Defense of “The Nymph Complaining”

Readers and critics alike generally agree that “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn” tackles significantly more complex ideas than the basic plotline of “girl mourning the loss of a beloved pet” might suggest.  T.S. Eliot attempts to elucidate its overall poetic merit via a detailed comparison with “The Nymph’s Song to Hylas” by William Morris:

I have a garden of my own,
But so with roses overgrown,
And lilies, that you would it guess
To be a little wilderness.
And all the springtime of the year
It only lovèd to be there. (Marvell 71-76)
I know a little garden close
Set thick with lily and red rose.
Where I would wander if I might
From dewy dawn to dewy night,
and have one with me wandering.  (Morris 1-5)

In Eliot’s opinion, the poems are similar in subject matter and in tone, but sharply diverge in execution:

[Marvell’s] verses have the suggestiveness of true poetry; and the verses of Morris, which are nothing if not an attempt to suggest, really suggest nothing; and we are inclined to infer that the suggestiveness is the aura around a bright clear centre, that you cannot have the aura alone. The day-dreamy feeling of Morris is essentially a slight thing; Marvell takes a slight affair, the feeling of a girl for her pet, and gives it a connection with that inexhaustible and terrible nebula of emotion which surrounds all our exact and practical passions and mingles with them.

Thus, something specific about the poem makes it more than a “slight affair”; arguably, that “something” is the girl herself—a successfully written female persona who defines the category of the intellectualized nymph and whose grief provides the “inexhaustible and terrible nebula of emotion” that makes her complaint so poignant.

The nymph’s status as an intelligent being is by no means a foregone conclusion.  On the contrary, numerous critics take issue with the poem’s complex language, deeming it too intricate for a nymph to understand.  The most effective way to defend her against such accusations of limited intelligence and comprehension is to examine one critic’s argument in detail—that of Daniel Jaeckle, who argues for a nymph whose “utterance is thoroughly dialogized” (146).  On top of her “common pastoral language” that is “consistent with the intellectual and social sophistication expected of a young nymph” (139), Marvell has, in Jaeckle’s view, layered other language bodies specific to militarism, British law, and theology.  Before examining certain aspects of Jaeckle’s argument more thoroughly, it is worth noting that, from the standpoint of first impressions, some of his statements come across as unfounded or even arrogant; why, one might ask, shouldn’t the nymph be fully conscious of the advanced language she uses and the literary references she makes?

The most alien word used in the poem is undoubtedly “deodands.”  Frank Kermode wonders, “Why, we ask, should the girl know about ‘deodands,’ which we have to look up?” (qtd. in Jaeckle 137).  To begin with, one could easily take issue with Kermode’s snide phrasing, which diminishes the nymph to “the girl” and heavily emphasizes “we”—as if present-day critics and readers are vastly superior to their early modern counterparts, and any word “we” don’t recognize could hardly fall within a nymph’s supposedly limited vocabulary.  That aside, there is the simple explanation that the practice of collecting deodands (personal chattel which, having caused the death of a human being, was given to God as an expiatory offering) is not exactly a popular one these days, having been abolished in 1846 (OED).  As we have no way of knowing how often this law was enforced, it must be admitted that the nymph, as an early modern person, could have been quite familiar with it; she certainly imposes a clever role reversal in the lines “Even beasts must be with justice slain, / Else men are made their deodands” (16-17), which proves that she understands the original definition.  Jaeckle argues that this usage of British law terminology “is a most explicit indication that the traditional language of female complaint cannot cope with contemporary experience” (142).  The nymph’s language, then, is simply not traditional.

The poem makes numerous theological references; their effectiveness hinges upon the nymph’s level of understanding, which arguably is complete rather than fragmented.  Consider the following passage:

Though they should wash their guilty hands
In this warm life blood which doth part
From thine, and wound me to the heart,
Yet could they not be clean: their stain
Is dyed in such a purple grain.
There is not such another in
The world, to offer for their sin.  (18-24)

John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 2 comes to mind: “Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might / That being red, it dyes red souls to white” (13-14).  The parallel between Christ and the fawn is certainly being drawn, but, as with Lady Macbeth, the guilty hands remain stained.  Jaeckle states that, “if the fawn fails [as redeemer], no other creature remains in the world to serve in the sacrificial role, because no other is as pure as it is,” citing this as proof of the nymph’s “foreshortened theological perspective” (143).  He misses the mark here; although the nymph acknowledges the possibility of the fawn as Christ figure, the phrasing (“though” and “yet,” in particular) suggests that she knows the comparison will not hold, and even, strangely, that the idea itself stems from the guilty troopers, rather than from her.  The words “such another” then take on a different meaning than Jaeckle gives them: the nymph now refers to Christ himself, the only redeemer who could save the fallen men, a sacrificial figure no longer “in / The world,” but in heaven.

The language in the garden passage clearly evokes phrases from the Song of Songs, most recognizably in the choice of flowers—roses and lilies.  Jaeckle states that,

The reader familiar with the Song of Songs discovers that the purity and intensity of the Nymph’s love of the fawn is comparable to that between Christ and his Church, or between Mary and Christ, or whichever other allegorical sense of Canticles one prefers.  But allegory as such does not enter “The Nymph” as a result.  Her unwitting use of biblical language instead suggests the quality of the Nymph’s relationship to the fawn. (144)

He underestimates the nymph once again—her very deliberate use of biblical language uncovers a beautifully presented allegorical interpretation of Canticles, one that Jaeckle himself suggests: that of Mary and Christ.1  The nymph speaks of her fawn as any adoring mother might speak of her beloved child:

With sweetest milk, and sugar, first
I it at mine own fingers nursed.
And as it grew, so every day
It waxed more white and sweet than they.
It had so sweet a breath! And oft
I blushed to see its foot more soft
And white (shall I say than my hand?)
Nay, any lady’s of the land. (55-62)

The word “sweet” is repeated often, along with “milk,” “nursed,” “white,” and “soft”—all words which could easily describe or relate to a baby.  The word “they” in line 58 remains ambiguous; it could refer to the milk and sugar, the nymph’s fingers, or perhaps even the nymph’s past paramours (Sylvio in particular), whom she has pointedly replaced with the fawn-child.  Additionally, the slight hyperbole of “Nay, any lady’s of the land” evokes the common occurrence of a mother delighting in (and thus exaggerating) the accomplishments and charming qualities of her child.  The parallel between nymph/fawn and Mary/Christ is further emphasized in two later lines, which strongly evoke death and the shroud: “And its pure virgin limbs to fold / In whitest sheets of lilies cold” (89-90).

Jaeckle struggles with the nymph’s ability to make classical references (to the Heliades, Diana, Elysium, and, indirectly, to Niobe), concluding that they “fit within her traditional linguistic repertoire.”  He dismisses her vision of herself as a weeping statue as no more than “what a nymph could borrow from Ovid’s Metamorphoses” (145).  His logic is extremely flawed here, as he has suddenly transitioned from a nymph who speaks in a monosyllabic, pastoral language to a nymph who has read Ovid.  Her status as a mythological creature does not guarantee an innate familiarity with all mythological stories and characters.  Consider the following passage:

The tears do come
Sad, slowly dropping like a gum.
So weeps the wounded balsam: so
The holy frankincense doth flow.
The brotherless Heliades
Melt in such amber tears as these. (95-100)2

Knowledge of trees and resins could be expected of an uneducated pastoral nymph, but not such precise and relevant classical allusions as that to the three daughters of Helios, who were so disconsolate upon the death of their brother that they transformed into amber-dropping trees.3 Additionally, frankincense is more than an aromatic gum resin often burned for incense (OED)—it was, of course, one of the three gifts given to the infant Christ, along with gold and myrrh.  This type of language base requires exposure to literature and a keen intellect with which to apply the knowledge gained; the nymph clearly has both.

There is a particular sequence in the poem which proves not only that the nymph is capable of playing Sylvio’s game, but that she can take it a step further:

Said he, “Look how your huntsman here
Hath taught a fawn to hunt his dear.”
But Sylvio soon had me beguiled.
This waxèd tame, while he grew wild,
And quite regardless of my smart,
Left me his fawn, but took his heart. (31-36)
Had it lived long, I do not know
Whether it too might have done so
As Sylvio did: his gifts might be
Perhaps as false or more than he. (47-50)

Sylvio makes a clever pun on “dear” and “deer,” simultaneously setting up a situation in which the fawn has moved from hunted to huntsman.  The word “this” which begins line 34 is ambiguous; the nymph could be referring to the fawn, which grew tame as Sylvio began to stray, or to their love affair itself, which “waxèd tame” in the sense of becoming dull and predictable to Sylvio.  She retaliates with a pun on “heart” and “hart,” continuing the hunted/huntsman theme.  This in itself manages to confound the disbelieving critics (although Jaeckle concedes that she does introduce paronomasia deliberately).  However, the nymph is capable of a more impressive feat: in lines 47 through 50, she extends Sylvio’s own comparison, where he equated the fawn with the huntsman, and thus with himself.  She detaches herself from her instinctive love for the fawn long enough to examine it critically, wondering if, given time, it might have played her as false as her lover.  In these short lines, the nymph herself acknowledges the psychologically-based criticism which suggests that she cares so strongly for the fawn because the animal fills the void that Sylvio leaves behind.  In a sense, the fawn becomes a literalized metonym for the absent lover.  This literary device ensures that Sylvio remains part of the poem, as an abstract rather than simply physical presence.  In a way, then, the nymph mourns the loss of two huntsmen upon the death of the fawn.

This strikingly literate and intelligent nymph is arguably Marvell’s most successful female poetic persona.  Perhaps this stems from the fact that the poet does not have to work as hard to reconcile her within the scope of his pastoral; although human in many ways, one must not forget that she borders on the divine, possessing an usually strong connection to the natural world.  She can claim the garden—“I have a garden of my own” (71)—and relegate the reader to the role of outsider: “you would it guess / To be a little wilderness” (73-4); she does not live in a lord’s manor house and stroll through the adjoining lands on occasion, but instead exists as an inextricable part of her personal pastoral.  Although she retains an aura of untouchable innocence, there is no way to prove whether or not she retains her virginity; in fact, the poem seems to suggest that she loses her virginity to “unconstant” Sylvio, which would indicate that Marvell is able to write a compelling portrait of burgeoning adult sexuality.  An unraveling of Jaeckle’s approach has demonstrated that her persona transcends the pastoral, but remains rooted in it, making her a unique case among Marvellian women.

III. Interlude: Exclusion and Intrusion

An analysis of the successful female personae in Marvell’s poetry would be incomplete without at least a brief overview of those who break the “intellectualized nymph” mold, and are thus impossible to reconcile within the scope of the pastoral.  In “Upon Appleton House,” Lady Fairfax represents one such woman; the camp follower Thestylis is another.

Rosalie Colie, in her much-quoted book My Ecchoing Song, makes passing reference to Lady Fairfax:

The house, or family, looks backward to Isabella and forward with Maria the heiress.  As Isabella’s marriage-choice was praised, so is the General’s; his indomitable wife, the present lady-mother, has her proud place in the poem (220).

One cannot help but wonder whether Colie was reading the same poem: far from assuming “her proud place,” Lady Fairfax appears only tangentially, and never by name.  She is referred to variously as governess to her husband’s governor (297-9), “starry Vere” (724), and as one half of a set of “glad parents” (743).  What is noticeably missing is any reference to the lady’s domestic charms, so plainly emphasized in Jonson’s “To Penshurst”:

And what praise was heaped
On thy good lady then! who therein reaped
The just reward of her high huswifery;
To have her linen, plate, and all things nigh,
When she was far; and not a room but dressed,
As if it had expected such a guest!
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.
Thy lady’s noble, fruitful, chaste withal. (83-90)

Jonathan Crewe, in “The Garden State: Marvell’s Poetics of Enclosure,” remarks upon the “conspicuous absence of a magna mater [in “Upon Appleton House”], with whom both the magical bountifulness of the estate and efficient domestic management are associated in ‘To Penshurst’” (66).  Lady Fairfax is never directly associated with Appleton House, almost as if Marvell were holding her at arm’s length; some historical background helps decipher why this was the case.  Derek Hirst and Steven Zwicker state that,

In years when the intrusion of women into politics drew so much male ire, few women were more notorious than Anne Fairfax.  In January of 1649 she had twice interrupted the king’s trial with loud denunciations from the gallery in Westminster Hall; in the spring of 1650 she had successfully pressed her husband not to command against the Scots; and now in the spring and summer of 1651 she was closely identified with that presbyterian-royalist cause which came to crisis in August. (260)

Colie cites correspondence between the old Lord Fairfax and another of his sons which suggests that Lady Anne Fairfax was very likely responsible for her husband’s decision to break the entail on the estate in favor of their daughter Mary (222).  By all accounts, then, the real Lady Fairfax was a force to be reckoned with; she seems to have been ahead of her time in terms of political activism and open dialogue with her spouse.  These revolutionary qualities probably had everything to do with Marvell’s decision to exclude her.

Zwicker and Hirst suggest that, “To have admitted such a figure [as Anne] into the text of Lord Fairfax’ poem would have been overtly to compromise the Lord General’s autonomy, to raise loud and vexing questions not only about his moral stance but even about his patriarchal authority” (260).  They also hint at the fact that the historical counterpart of the poem’s hero “may have been compromised by dependency on his spouse” (264).  Lady Fairfax could hardly be farther from a nymph: she does not appear in conjunction with the natural beauty of the estate; her only significant role in the poem is that of a mother, raising Mary under “discipline severe” (723) and preparing her for imminent marriage.  The real Lady Fairfax behaved unnaturally by early modern standards, which cast her as a liability rather than an asset to her husband, at least in the public eye.  Marvell sidesteps a potentially catastrophic poetic portrait by limiting her presence in “Upon Appleton House” to brief references.

A second model of female exclusion from the pastoral of intellectual nymphs is Thestylis, who disturbs the mower scene in several ways.  In sharp contrast to the grieving mower who “unknowing, carves the rail” (395), Thestylis is described as “bloody” (401) and “greedy” (403); she seizes upon the dead bird, and another found alive, planning to eat them.  Her actions are unnatural within the prevailing atmosphere of empathy and foreboding established by the bird’s death.  More confoundingly, she addresses the poet directly, crying, “‘He called us Israelites; / But now, to make his saying true, / Rails rain for quails, for manna, dew’” (406-8).  Marvell makes the relevant reference seventeen lines earlier, evoking the biblical parting of the Red Sea:

The tawny mowers enter next;
Who seem like Israelites to be
Walking on foot through a green sea.
To them the grassy deeps divide,
And crowd a lane to either side. (388-92)

Unlike the nymph complaining, so good at taking her literary cues, Thestylis refuses to play her scripted part; as Colie points out, “she effects a major reversal of role, the poet becoming for a moment an actor in her drama” (213).  At the moment of her outburst, Marvell has abandoned the biblical reference, preferring to dwell instead on the dramatized tragedy of the rail’s death.  Thestylis forcibly drags the focus back to the Israelites, pointing out the further references to Exodus that have developed in the interim.  Jonathan Crewe takes Thestylis’ insubordination as “a crucial marker of the poet’s loss of control over gendered pastoral representation” (68).  The loss of control is but momentary, as Marvell returns to his elegiac contemplation of the birds as soon as Thestylis finishes speaking.  However, the damage has been done—from the point of view of ordered pastoral verse, she remains an unsatisfying and thoroughly un-nymphlike character.

IV. Mary Fairfax, Nymph and Queen

The extended homage to Mary Fairfax which appears at the end of “Upon Appleton House” was very likely written in celebration of her thirteenth birthday.  Zwicker and Hirst note that “the ripeness of nature in the poem, which throughout juxtaposes fertility and death, renders especially poignant this tribute to menarche and marriageability” (252).  The marriage of their only daughter and heiress of the estate is naturally something upon which Lord and Lady Fairfax (and therefore Marvell) dwell.  More interestingly, Mary’s unique connection to and unifying power over the natural landscape that adjoins Appleton House solidifies her status as an intellectualized nymph within the pastoral setting.

We first encounter Mary during a morning walk through the gardens with her parents:

These [pleasant odors], as their governor goes by,
In fragrant volleys they [the flowers] let fly;
And to salute their governess
Again as great a charge they press:
None for the virgin nymph; for she
Seems with the flow’rs a flow’r to be.
And think so still!  though not compare
With breath so sweet, or cheek so fair. (297-304)

The clear separation between the adults and the child is immediately evident in this stanza.  The military vocabulary (“volleys,” “salute,” “charge”) is reserved for Lord and Lady Fairfax, emphasizing the fact that children should be excluded and protected from war and other hardships.  The phrase “None for the virgin nymph” has the ring of everyday parental authority behind it, perhaps as if the Fairfaxes were denying Mary candy for fear it would spoil her appetite.  While this might be a fanciful interpretation, it captures the essence of the line, which has a certain singsong, nursery rhyme quality to it.  Colie argues that Mary is “so much a part of the garden that the flowers mistook her for one of themselves and forgot to perform their military duties” (236).  It seems more likely that the flowers deliberately refrained from firing their volleys out of deference to her youth, but Colie’s statement underscores the stanza’s emphasis on purity.  The words “virgin,” “sweet,” and “fair,” draw a direct parallel between Mary and the poem’s other heiress, the “blooming virgin Thwaites” (90).

Mary seems markedly less childlike as she strolls through the grounds a second time, unaccompanied and at night.  In a moment of sudden inversion, the tutor must hastily set away childish “pleasures slight” (652) and “toys” (654) in preparation for his pupil’s arrival (Colie 269).  Mary now presents a stern and even calculating aspect as she evaluates her environment, made evident by Marvell’s reference to her “judicious eyes” (653) and the claim that she “already is the law / Of all her sex” (656).

Colie points out that, “Though there is no serpent [in “Upon Appleton House”] and therefore no guilt, all things are conscious of propriety” (246).  In the first case, she refers obliquely to Marvell’s description of the river: “Unless itself [‘our little Nile’] you will mistake, / Among these meads the only snake” (631-2).  As regards propriety, “loose Nature, in respect / To her, itself doth recollect” (657-8), while the sun, “lest she see him go to bed, / In blushing clouds conceals his head” (663-4).  The word “loose” has multiple meanings, among them “unbound, unattached,” “at liberty,” “inexact, indefinite,” “ungirt; naked,” and “free from moral restraint; unchaste, wanton, immoral” (OED).  The last two definitions place Nature in direst need of Mary’s pure, correcting influence.  In this case, the verb “recollect” most likely means “to collect (one’s thoughts, etc.) again after a distraction” or “to bring back again from a position or state” (OED).  The faint sense of Nature’s embarrassment is echoed as the sun likewise conceals his nudity behind “blushing clouds.”

Marvell spends two stanzas creating a prolonged prosopopoeia wherein the halcyon (defined in a footnote to the Norton Critical Edition as “a bird that was thought to produce absolute calm on the sea”) represents Mary.  Colie likens this stylistic choice to a theatrical tradition:

The halcyon fuses with Mary Fairfax, as the two enter the scene together and jointly arrest the landscape in a convention familiar in masque-production, where, for better or for worse, players and dancers were often immobilized, as in The Tempest or Comus (217).

These stanzas (84 and 85) are important in that Mary begins, albeit through the bird, to alter her surroundings.  The disparate elements, from the “viscous air” (673) to the fish that hang “as plain / As flies in crystal overta’en” (677-8), fuse into what Colie eloquently terms a “panoramic still life” (207).  Mary-as-halcyon arrests the landscape, enacting a positive connotation of the word “charmed,” which stands in sharp contrast to the manipulative wiles of the nuns (Colie 217).  The Fairfax ancestor denounces them strongly: “Hypocrite witches, hence avant, / Who though in prison yet enchant!” (205-6), and the cloister is later dispossessed “as when th’enchantment ends / The castle vanishes or rends” (269-70).  It is worth noting that Mary charms an unnamed group of men, who observe the scene silently; this gives her an increased degree of authority, which carries over into the next stanza.  Leaving the personification of the halcyon behind, Mary effects changes in her own right.  Marvell probes the disparity between youth and experience with the comparison of “new-born comet” (683) to “star new-slain” (684), but Mary outstrips both, turning Nature to glass in a fiery pseudo-baptism.

Victoria Silver, in “The Obscure Script of Regicide,” offers a highly interesting idea about the source of Mary’s power:4

As it happens, little girls usually tend to be monarchs in Marvell; for
their latent sexuality lends them present power and even a threatening
aggressiveness—power figured as the imperious ordering of pastoral
nature to which the speaker gladly subjugates himself. (37)

There is ample textual evidence within the poem that supports the notion of Mary as a queen, primarily in stanzas 87 and 88.  However, Silver makes the same mistake as DiSanto in assuming that “latent sexuality” is the primary source of power for the young women in Marvell’s poetry.  Mary’s power stems from the fact that she fits within the pastoral—as both reconciler and reconciled.  Her influence, therefore, is natural rather than threatening or aggressive.

Stanza 87, which presents Mary as both nymph and benevolent queen, directly parallels a much earlier passage:

Art would more neatly have defaced
What she [Nature] had laid so sweetly waste;
In fragrant gardens, shady woods,
Deep meadows, and transparent floods. (77-80)

Mary harmonizes each of these locations in turn, and in the same precise order; she is revealed as the source of their beauty and perfection.  The word “bestows” evokes a generous monarch, while “owes” reminds us of the credit and loyalty she deserves:

‘Tis she that to these gardens gave
That wondrous beauty which they have;
She straightness on the woods bestows;
To her the meadow sweetness owes;
Nothing could make the river be
So crystal-pure but only she. (689-94)

The monarchical imagery continues in the next stanza, where the meadows present “carpets where to tread” (699) and the garden “flow’rs to crown her head” (579).  A significant textual parallel appears with the lines “And for a glass, the limpid brook, / Where she may all her beauties look” (701-2).  Marvell describes the river earlier as “a crystal mirror slick; / Where all things gaze themselves, and doubt / If they be in it or without” (636-8).  In the most direct sense, this references Narcissus, who became so enamored of his own reflection that he lost touch with reality; Marvell acknowledges this reference in the line “Narcissus-like, the sun too pines” (640).  However, the line can hold another meaning: those who gaze at their reflections there doubt whether they are within the water (as part of the river) or standing on dry land.  Thus Mary, using the river as her mirror, smoothly takes her literary cue and claims affinity to that particular natural feature, moving from Dryad to Naiad.5  Lest she fall victim to vanity as Narcissus did, the wood screens her modestly, and Marvell redirects the focus from her physical beauty to her dazzling intellect—“She counts her beauty to converse / In all the languages as hers” (707-8).

V. Closing and Opening

Marvell’s nymphs succeed where other female characters fail because they are flexible rather than brittle; the poet can mold them gently into the confines of the pastoral, which fits them as a second skin rather than a cage.  They are authoritative figures in their own right, but it is an authority of belonging rather than rebellion.  As one reader closes the book on Mary Fairfax and the nymph complaining, another will surely open it—for these figures comprise both the suggestive aura and the bright clear center of Marvell’s poetry.

End notes

  1. Cf. “Eyes and Tears,” in which Marvell references Mary and Christ briefly in the line “the chaste lady’s pregnant womb” along with more extensive references to Mary Magdalene.
  2. T.S. Eliot speaks highly of this passage in “Andrew Marvell.”
  3. See footnote, p. 542, Norton Critical Edition:  Seventeenth-Century British Poetry.
  4. Silver actually analyzes “The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers” at this point in her article, but the idea transfers smoothly to Mary Fairfax.
  5. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a nymph as “any of a class of semi-divine spirits, imagined as taking the form of a maiden inhabiting the sea, rivers, mountains, woods, etc., and often portrayed in poetry as attendants on a particular god.”  Further divisions are based on location, e.g., Dryads in forests, Naiads in springs or rivers.

Works cited

  • Colie, Rosalie L. “My Ecchoing Song”: Andrew Marvell’s Poetry of Criticism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1970. Print.
  • Crewe, Jonathan. “The Garden State: Marvell’s Poetics of Enclosure.” Andrew Marvell. Ed. Thomas Healy. London: Longman, 1998. 54-71. Print.
  • DiSanto, Michael. “Andrew Marvell’s Ambivalence toward Adult Sexuality.” SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 48.1 (2007): 165-82. Print.
  • Donne, John. “Holy Sonnet 2.” In Rumrich, 70.
  • Eliot, T. S. “Andrew Marvell.” Times Literary Supplement 31 Mar. 1921. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. <>.
  • Hirst, Derek, and Steven Zwicker. “High Summer at Nun Appleton, 1651: Andrew Marvell and Lord Fairfax’s Occasions.” The Historical Journal 36.2 (1993): 247-69. Print.
  • Jaeckle, Daniel. “Marvell’s Dialogized Nymph.” SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 43.1 (2003): 137-50. Print.
  • Jonson, Ben. “To Penshurst.”  In Rumrich, 97-100.  Print.
  • Marvell, Andrew. “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn.”  In Rumrich, 540-3. Print.
  • Marvell, Andrew. “Upon Appleton House.”  In Rumrich, 559-81. Print.
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. <>.
  • Rumrich, John P., ed. Seventeenth-Century British Poetry 1603 – 1660.  New York: Norton, 2006. Print.
  • Silver, Victoria. “The Obscure Script of Regicide: Ambivalence and Little Girls in Marvell’s Pastorals.” ELH 68.1 (2001): 29-55. Print.