This Newsletter was published on Thursday 12 March 2015

The Instability of Marvell’s “Bermudas”

By Timothy Raylor

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How should we take Bermudas?[1] Is it a straightforward propaganda poem, commemorating the commencement of the godly governorship of the newly appointed Somers Island commissioner and erstwhile colonist, John Oxenbridge? Or is the poem shot through with doubts and questions—with ironies that call into question the actions and purity of motive of its singing rowers? Both positions have been urged: the former especially in the nineteenth century, when Marvell came first to critical notice; the latter more commonly in the twentieth. The eighth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1853-60), for example, cited the poem approvingly as “one of the finest strains of the Puritan muse.”[2] But in the twentieth century challenges to the propagandistic reading came from two directions. One was the New Criticism, with its tendency to read any narrative frame, any instance of playful wit, as debilitating irony—an approach to which the poem lends ample ammunition. The second direction was historical. As the early history of the Bermuda colony came to be better understood, the gap between that history—natural, economic, and religious—and Marvell’s poetic recreation of it came to appear so pointed as to be explainable only in terms of an ironic counter-narrative.[3] From the natural and economic historical points of view, high hopes of vast resources were soon dashed. From the point of view of religion, the colony was not predominantly or even notably Puritan, and although we find a small tradition of Puritan ministers, including Oxenbridge himself, making their way there during the century, the Bermudas were settled in the first instance largely by economic migrants. (The first settlers were shipwrecked on their way to Virginia, not Massachusetts.) Despite the strength of its challenges to the propagandistic reading, the ironic reading never gained universal acceptance. And the move, in the 1980s and 1990s, to a more historically and ideologically alert criticism led to a resurgence of Puritan readings of the poem: readings buttressed by careful contextual scholarship.[4] And yet the ironic reading has not been completely dispatched. In 1996 John Rogers could describe the poem, in an exemplary statement of the strong version of the ironic reading, as a “parody of Puritan utopian providentialism.”[5]

The increase in our contextual knowledge has not yet allowed us fully to resolve the problems with which the poem presents us. And doubt about one’s reading of the poem appears to be an occupational hazard of any serious attempt to get to grips with it. One may concur with Philip Brockbank, who noted in his York tercentenary lecture on Marvell that “there is a sense in which, whatever our knowledge of Bermudan history, the poem has always pulled both away from and towards our dashed expectations.”[6] Brockbank’s point is borne out in the work of that doyenne of Marvellians, Rosalie Colie. In an article of 1957 Colie presented Bermudas as a rich but fundamentally unproblematic presentation of what she termed “The Puritan paradise.”[7] But when after a dozen years of intensive work on Marvell she came to publish her magnificent book-length study of his poetry, Colie changed her tune: “We know [she wrote] a great deal about the poem and its content, perhaps even its occasion … What we do not know, though, is what is going on in this poem.”[8]

In this article I make no claim to solve, once and for all, the question of what is going on in Bermudas. My goal is more modest. I aim first to show that the problem is real and is of long standing, although it has been largely hidden, for much of the poem’s textual and critical history, from scholarly view; it is, in other words, no mere chimera generated by mid-twentieth-century critical practices. Having sketched that textual history, I show that two details from the text which seem, at first sight, to function ironically may, if placed in the wider context of Marvell’s work, lend support to the Puritan reading.


Let us look first at the propagandistic, Puritan reading of the poem. According to this version, Marvell offers us an earnest celebration of a paradise found: a new Eden located by the operation of divine providence working through human agency. The singers, for instance, row not in order to propel the boat, but to keep time with their singing; the work of their voices in praising and not that of their arms in rowing, is the efficient cause of their propulsion. This, or something like it, was the dominant reading of the poem from the early nineteenth century up through the middle of the twentieth century. It is founded on such features of the text as its psalm-like form, its singers’ praise of the liberality of the creator, and their emphatic hope of spreading the gospel throughout the Americas. And it is endorsed by the frame narrative’s approval of the singers’ “holy” and “cheerful” note. And yet this reading is disturbed by some gaps and tensions. Who exactly are the rowers? Why are they rowing and where are they going? If they are Puritans, why do they seem so self-absorbed?[9] So focused on the material riches (e.g. the ambergris of line 28) and the carnal comforts so provocatively and forcefully impressed upon them (“He makes the figs our mouths to meet”)? There seem here to be rather too many of the sensuous allurements of an alternate tradition of earthly paradises: the classical and romance tradition of the Fortunate Isles. And if the poem is an earnest celebration of a paradise found, why is the islands’ natural superabundance presented so comically (“throws the melons at our feet”)? Why, finally, are the sentiments expressed in the rowers’ song not clearly endorsed by the winds of the narrative frame, which listen but which do not respond? Such questions cannot be ignored.

During the nineteenth century, such questions about the poem were addressed primarily by editors rather than by critics. And they were addressed by editorial interventions that mitigated or resolved them. The inter-involved questions of the identity of the rowers and the direction and purpose of their rowing were decisively dispatched by Thomas Campbell in the text printed in his popular anthology of 1819, Specimens of the British Poets. Campbell solves such problems by retitling the poem, heading his version “The Emigrants,” thus settling at one stroke the matter of who the rowers are and the question of where they are headed: they are migrants from England, headed to the new world.[10] With this stroke he also solves the problem of why they are rowing: they are propelling themselves—like some unexpectedly early entrants in the Talisker Whisky Challenge—westward across the Atlantic. Campbell’s solution may have been historically inaccurate and nautically implausible; but it was efficient, and it was influential.

Campbell’s Specimens was widely distributed, and nineteenth-century readers were more likely to encounter the poem in some variant of Campbell’s version than in the more accurate, but less readily available, editions of Cooke (1726, reprinted 1772), or Thompson (1776), or in the privately printed collection of Grosart (1872-75), of which only 156 copies were issued. Campbell’s retitling was adopted by subsequent anthologizers and critics.[11] In the “Selection” of poems appended to his 1832 Life of Marvell, John Dove prints the poem under Campbell’s title. To this he adds a clarifying headnote identifying the singers and the occasion: “The following stanzas are supposed to be sung by a party of those voluntary exiles for conscience’ sake, who, in a profligate age, left their country, to enjoy religious freedom in regions beyond the Atlantic.”[12] Dove’s title and headnote were reprinted in the 1835 edition of Hartley Coleridge’s version of the Life.[13] Robert Chambers includes the poem under the still more precise title “The Emigrants in the Bermudas” as one of four samples of Marvell’s work in his Cyclopaedia (1844).[14] And so the poem is identified in comments by the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier, of 1848 (“The Bermuda Emigrants”), and by Mrs. S. C. Hall in Sharpe’s Magazine for 1852.[15] Under versions of this title, the poem became widely known. George L. Craik, writing in 1844-45 hailed it as a work “familiar to every lover of poetry”; according to Craik, its title was “Song of the Exiles.”[16] Lovers of poetry were also furnished with a version of the poem in Palgrave’s immensely popular Golden Treasury (1861)—surely the work in which the greatest number of Marvell’s later nineteenth-century readers encountered the poem. Palgrave prints it as “Song of the Emigrants in Bermuda.”[17] It was widely-enough distributed under this title for Archbishop Trench to justify excluding it from his 1868 anthology of English verse on the grounds that it was so well known.[18]

Campbell’s retitling also fortified the Puritan reading of the poem by allowing commentators to resituate it historically. Thus, in his rather belated review of Dove’s biography, published a dozen years after its appearance, Henry Rogers identifies the rowers as the Pilgrim Fathers—apparently spotted by Marvell during some hitherto unsuspected southern detour.[19] Even in the twentieth century, such associations held.[20] Traces of it can be found as recently as 1977, in Bruce King’s account, which describes the body of the poem as “the Pilgrims’ song.”[21]

But retitling alone did not suffice to stabilize the Puritan reading of the poem. In his 1860 Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-Known British Poets, George Gilfillan, a radical Scotch minister and litterateur, printed the poem under the title “The Emigrants” and cut from it lines 19-30—the heart of the Fortunate Isles passage—thus excising such potentially problematic details as bejeweled pomegranates, mouth-seeking figs, bowling-ball melons, and vendible ambergris.[22] Gilfillan’s version of the poem is a robust statement of secessionist solidarity. The poet is, he writes, “sympathising in song with a boatful of banished Englishmen in the remote Bermudas.”[23] Gilfillan’s Bermudas seem merely drear and distant isles; they are certainly not the earthly paradise described in lines 19-30 by Marvell.

Smaller in scale but still striking is the alteration wrought by Palgrave, in his Golden Treasury, to the opening of the rowers’ song. Palgrave’s Puritan reading is clearly troubled by a sequencing that introduces sea-monsters and “wracks” after the rowers’ arrival at the island: which sequencing appears to violate providential logic. Palgrave corrects this apparent failure of temporal sequencing by swapping lines 7 and 8 with lines 9 and 10, thus implicitly locating the encounter with wracks and sea-monsters during the journey, and before arrival at the island:[24]

What should we do but sing His praise
That led us through the watery maze.
Where He the huge sea monsters wracks,
That lift the deep upon their backs,
Unto an isle so long unknown,
And yet far kinder than our own?[25]

It makes grammatical, logical, and narrative sense. But Palgrave has missed the point that the wracking of sea-monsters on the islands does not contradict but is rather part of the poem’s providential logic: the proximity of the monsters to the islands yields ambergris; their wracking, whale-oil.

In sum, I suggest that until the early twentieth century, with the widening distribution of more-or-less reliable texts like G. A. Aitken’s 1890 Muses Library edition of Marvell, most readers of the poem were not confronted with a text that we would recognize as Bermudas. Its textual instability during the nineteenth century means that Victorian accounts of the poem, which usually treat it as unproblematically propagandistic, must be treated with caution.


About the propagandistic reading, there are ample reasons for doubt, if not necessarily the outright skepticism of some modern critics. There are clearly internal oddities in the presentation of Marvell’s ostensibly Puritan paradise: a paradise which seems to carry slightly too many traces of the sybaritic and morally questionable classical and romance tradition of the Fortunate Isles. And there are questions about its often striking lack of fit with the recorded history of the Bermudas themselves. Of external problems we become more acutely aware the more we read into the early history of the islands. Marvell’s references to their superabundant natural resources—the enormous quantities of ambergris washing up on the shore, the daily visits of vast flocks of edible birds, the inestimable stores of cedar: all jar noisily with historical accounts. Of ambergris, only a small amount was actually discovered—and the dispiriting disputes and deceptions that followed were well known and make sorry reading.[26] Of edible birds, the islands’ population of cahows (a subspecies of petrel) was quickly hunted to the brink of extinction.[27] And the native cedar—not, as Marvell has it, cedar of Lebanon—was so rapidly felled and, during several attempts to rid the islands of a virulent infestation of rats, burned, that several ordinances were passed, prohibiting any further despoliation.[28] There are also historical obstacles to reading Marvell’s godly, psalm-singing rowers as representative Bermudan settlers, who quickly became notorious not for their godliness, but for their distillation and consumption of a potent liquor known as “bibby,” fermented from palmetto: a practice banned by an ordinance of 1627 and again decried in 1652.[29]

But though Marvell’s vision of the inexhaustible resources of the islands and the godly sobriety of its inhabitants may jar with historical fact, historical fact is probably not the most appropriate measure of such a poem. If we are right to date it to early 1653, and to see it as a celebration of Oxenbridge’s appointment to the Somers Island Commission, then we should read it as propaganda, rather than history. In this light, the fact that Marvell’s vision doesn’t compass the whole of Bermudan history doesn’t mean that it is not historical. There are many histories. And part of the problem may be that most modern histories of the islands are founded on Lefroy’s Memorials, a work of robustly Anglican-Royalist bent. That bias has been partly corrected in an unpublished doctoral dissertation by Gregory Edwin Shipley, which offers a Puritan counter-narrative of the early political and ecclesiological history of the Bermudas.[30] But there is more work to be done in this vein, and one hopes that some enterprising scholar will undertake it, and help us develop a sharper sense of the historical and ideological context within which the poem should be read. In the remainder of this article, however, I turn back to the text itself and examine two cruxes which seem at first to function ironically, but which might rather bear a Puritan reading.

The first of these cruxes is the question of the function and weight of the parenthetical “perhaps” in the final couplet of the rower’s song. The parenthesis has been offered as one of the strongest pieces of evidence in favor of the ironic reading. Why (the argument goes) would Marvell take the trouble to include such a question-inducing parenthetical except to raise a doubt—a note of skepticism about whether the song will, in fact, rebound beyond the Mexique Bay, and a doubt, therefore, about the rowers’ understanding of and participation in the providential plan.[31] But others have countered that it is not so much God’s design as the rowers’ confidence in their song that’s called in doubt here.[32] I want to add a small piece of evidence in support of the view that the parenthetical “perhaps” registers an appropriate modesty about presuming too much on God’s providence by pointing out that Marvell uses “perhaps” in a similar manner in his Poem Upon the Late Death of his Highness the Lord Protector (l. 304). Contemplating the surviving mourners, hovering like ghosts around Cromwell’s tomb, Marvell writes that, since the Protector’s departure, none remains to guide them upward to heaven: “Since thou art gone, who best that way could teach, / Only our sighs, perhaps, may thither reach” (ll. 303-4). I don’t think anyone has ever proposed that this “perhaps” is ironic, designed to raise a question about the present location of Cromwell’s spirit. The phrasing seems rather to register a modest diffidence about presuming too much about the impact of human actions on the divine. The connection I’m proposing between the two moments finds support in another point of contact between Bermudas and the Protectoral elegy. As Nigel Smith notes in regard to line 196 of the elegy, Marvell there recycles the phrase “hollow seas” from line 20 of Bermudas. In reflecting on the workings of providence in light of the Protector’s death, therefore, Marvell reached back for words and phrases from an earlier meditation on similar matters. Such parallels encourage us to find diffident modesty more than skeptical irony in the parenthetical “perhaps” at the close of Bermudas.[33]

But there’s a more intractable problem of poetic logic here, which is the question of why the rowers’ song might be thought to rebound beyond the Mexique Bay in the first place. To the poem’s nineteenth-century readers the answer was simple: the singers were the Pilgrim Fathers, on their way to spreading the gospel through the Americas. Modern scholars tend rather to explain it as a reference to the incipient Western Design, by which the Protectoral government hoped to gain a foothold in Spanish America, by way of an assault on Hispaniola. But there are historical and geographical difficulties with this explanation. If the poem dates from Oxenbridge’s appointment as Somers Island Commissioner in the spring of 1653, then the association would be hard to insist on; the Western Design wasn’t formulated until the autumn of the following year.[34] Nor is it immediately obvious how a song of gratitude for the natural and supernatural qualities of the Bermudas in the form of a song emanating from “a small boat that rowed along,” might be decorously linked to the armed invasion of Hispaniola. The Western Design affords a less attractive a context for the passage than first appears.

It seems to me that, without attempting to echo-locate it to a particular rowboat on a given day, a more plausible general context for the reference is one first (I think) proposed by Brockbank in his tercentenary lecture on Marvell: the Eleuthera (or Eleutheria) project.[35] This was the effort by Bermudan Independents to establish a settlement in the Bahamas. It was begun by a former governor, William Sayle, after royalists seized control of the island’s governance in the late 1640s.[36] A London propaganda campaign in favor of Eleuthera saw the publication of a broadside on 9 July 1647 detailing the religious and political complexion of the new undertaking, and promoting profiteering from wracks and ambergris, from woods and mineral deposits.[37] The broadside is conventionally but hardly uncontrovertibly attributed to the economic theorist and pamphleteer Henry Robinson.[38] It argues for complete religious toleration, for a thoroughly Erastian separation of church and state, and for Venetian-style balloting as the basis for what appears to be a proto-Harringtonian aristocratic republic.[39] Among promoters of the new project was Marvell’s friend (and one time secretary to Lord Fairfax), John Rushworth.[40] The new colony quickly established strong links with Puritan Massachusetts, providing in 1650 a cargo of brazil-wood to Harvard College. The Eleuthera settlement, a project of godly expansionism, undertaken by a small, ideologically driven group of London and Bermudan Independents with links to Massachusetts, had the goal of extending the reach of English Independency from the Bermudas to the very gateway to the Gulf of Mexico (the Bahamas). This seems a more likely reference point for the Bermudan rowers and their echoing song than the Protectoral invasion force of 1654-55. The main evidence against such a suggestion is the fact that the settlement so quickly foundered; colonists began drifting back to Bermuda by the middle of the 1650s.[41] But then again, if the poem is read as propaganda rather than history this is not an insuperable difficulty. This suggestion would gain weight could it be shown that Oxenbridge was connected to the project; but I have failed to find any evidence that he was.

And yet there remain some obstacles to this reading of the poem, most of which are found in the notorious “Fortunate Isles” passage, with its apparently unseemly concern for material comforts and its wayward and absurdly comic wit: this is the passage at the core of the poem, running from lines 13-29, which Gilfillan was moved, in a spirit of covenanting righteousness, to excise from his edition. It clearly derives from Edmund Waller’s comic and perspectivally unstable “Battle of the Summer Islands.” And thanks to the scholarship of Barbara Lewalski and Nigel Smith (among others) we can see that Marvell converts most of Waller’s epicurean and sybaritic references to godly purposes, showing them to be scripturally warranted typologies.[42] But not all. I am not aware that any satisfactory typological reading has yet been furnished for the ambergris, for instance, or for that enameling spring.[43] And even some details that have been accounted for are affected by problems of tone and stance. What, for example, are we to make of those rolling melons and mouth-oppressing figs?

It seems possible to attempt to explain such remaining absurdities as the result of inadequate refitting. Marvell, one might suggest, has failed fully to strip his figs and his melons of their Wallerian inter-textual baggage, with consequent incongruity. This may get us some way toward an explanation, accounting perhaps for such features as the ambergris—so crucial to Waller’s comic poem. But it is not sufficient. Marvell seems too obviously aware and in control of the absurdist aspects of his presentation of the vegetable life of the islands for such an explanation to satisfy. There is a distinctively Marvellian wit at work here, which finds a close parallel in the alarmingly (if benignly) animated apples, grapes, and melons which bombard or press upon the speaker in The Garden.[44] And yet simply to point out the parallels—to observe that the poet uses similar tropes elsewhere—does not in itself explain their function.

That Marvell was innocent of the questions about human pride raised by his presentation of the Bermudas seems unlikely. One especially interesting piece of evidence for this claim might also point in the direction of a solution to the problem. Early in the rowers’ song appears the claim that the Bermudas enjoy perpetual spring: “He gave us this eternal spring, / Which here enamels ev’rything” (ll. 13-14). Eternal spring was a standard topic of the “earthly paradise” tradition; a commonplace of colonial propaganda, it was highlighted by Waller in his poem on the islands.[45] That Marvell knew it is suggested by his redeployment of the topos for polemical purposes in The Second Part of The Rehearsal Transpros’d. Attacking Samuel Parker for his ecclesiology and politics of Necessity, with its presumption that all things on God’s earth, whether the natural world, the human body, or the disposition of states, have been contrived by God to suit the interests of Restoration high Anglicanism, Marvell treats Parker’s arguments as instances of intolerable arrogance, expressing the ludicrous assumption “that Providence should have contrived all things according to the utmost perfection, or that which you conceived would have been most to your purpose.”[46] That the Bermudas are envisaged as a physical paradise contrived for their exclusive comfort is precisely the charge brought against Marvell’s rowers by proponents of the ironic reading of the poem. To Parker’s prideful presumption, Marvell offers the modest counter-argument that “we must neverthelesse be content […] to inhabit such an Earth as it has pleased God to allot us.” And what is such an earth? Marvell’s response is clear:

So that as God has hitherto, instead of an Eternal Spring, a standing Serenity, and perpetual Sun-shine, subjected Mankind to the dismal influence of Comets from above, to Thunder, and Lightning, and Tempests from the middle Region, and from the lower Surface, to the raging of the Seas, and the tottering of Earth-quakes, beside all other the innumerable calamities to which humane life is exposed, he has in like manner distinguish’d the Government of the World by the intermitting seasons of Discord, War, and publick Disturbance.[47]

To expect “an Eternal Spring, a standing Serenity, and perpetual Sun-shine” is to presume too much on God, and of the earth he has pleased him to allot us. And yet an eternal spring is exactly what the rowers claim has been allotted them. Does this make them Parkers? Not necessarily. What would have seemed true in 1672, after the setbacks and debacles of the late 1660s, would not necessarily have seemed true for a committed client of Cromwell, contemplating the prospects for economic and religious expansion during the middle 1650s, tinged, as for many they were, with millenarian hopes. And although Marvell distanced himself from the most extreme manifestations of such expectations, he was alert and responsive to them, working them prominently into his celebration of the new government in 1655.[48] The plausibility of such a reading is enhanced by the presence in the late version of the topos of the easily-overlooked but nonetheless crucial qualifier “hitherto,” which preserves the possibility that God may yet decide to change the conditions to which he subjects us. And if Marvell can think it worth registering this possibility even in such a late, cynical moment as the attack on Parker, then how much more strongly might we imagine him feeling the possibility of a sudden change during his residency in the godly household of John Oxenbridge, under the clientage of Oliver Cromwell, as the Commonwealth collapsed in conflict and the Protectorate was summoned into existence?

I have argued for the instability of Bermudas, suggesting that many of the problems perplexing critics of the mid-twentieth century were not of their own making but are inherent in the text of the poem. And yet this does not mean (as some of those critics argue) that the poem is all problem. A mood of millenarian-tinged hope, tempered by doubts and reservations, would account for many of the problems that lead critics to construe the poem as an attack on Puritan providentialism. Inadequate refitting of Waller’s satiric comedy may also account for some of its oddities. And yet in order fully to account for the poem in terms of the propagandistic reading, we need both a clearer grasp of the theological implications of Marvell’s playful wit, and a more adequate understanding of its animating occasion and context. Unless these conditions are met, it seems unlikely that the concerns raised by proponents of the ironic reading can be fully allayed.

Carleton College


I thank my audience and fellow panelists who addressed the poem at the South-Central Renaissance Conference in March 2013 and the two anonymous referees who offered helpful suggestions on focusing this article. I am as grateful as ever to the Dean and President of Carleton College and to my colleagues in the Department of English for their continued support.

[1] All quotations from Marvell’s poems are from Nigel Smith, ed., The Poems of Andrew Marvell, rev. ed. (Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2007).

[2] Elizabeth Story Donno, ed., Andrew Marvell: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, 1978), 8.

[3] R. M. Cummings, “The Difficulty of Marvell’s ‘Bermudas,’” Modern Philology 67 (1970): 331-40; Tay Fizdale, “Irony in Marvell’s ‘Bermudas,’“ ELH 42 (1975): 203-13; Philip Brockbank, “The Politics of Paradise: ‘Bermudas,’” in C. A. Patrides, ed., Approaches to Marvell: The York Tercentenary Lectures (London: Routledge, 1978), 174-93; Toshikiko Kawasaki, “Marvell’s ‘Bermudas’—A Little World, or A New World?” ELH 43 (1976): 38-52.

[4] See, for example, Annabel Patterson, Marvell: The Writer in Public Life (Harlow: Longman, 2000), 66-8; Nigel Smith, Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 113-15; Edward Holberton, Poetry and the Cromwellian Protectorate: Culture, Politics, and Institutions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 122-5.

[5] John Rogers, The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), 53-4; see also John Creaser, “Marvell and Existential Liberty,” in Warren Chernaik and Martin Dzelzainis, eds., Marvell and Liberty (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999), 145-72 (154).

[6] Brockbank, 190.

[7] Rosalie L. Colie, “Marvell’s ‘Bermudas’ and the Puritan Paradise,” Renaissance News 10 (1957): 75-9.

[8] Rosalie L. Colie, “My Ecchoing Song”: Andrew Marvell’s Poetry of Criticism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), 141.

[9] A point noted by Beeching in 1901; Donno, 292.

[10] Campbell, ed., Specimens of the British Poets (London, 1819), 4: 196; see also Donno, 23 n. 15.

[11] Thomas Cooke, ed., The Works of Andrew Marvell, Esq., 2 vols. (London, 1726); Edward Thompson, ed., The Works of Andrew Marvell, 3 vols. (London, 1776); A. B. Grosart, ed., The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Andrew Marvell, 4 vols. ([London]: privately printed, 1872-75).

[12] John Dove, The Life of Andrew Marvell (London, 1832), 89.

[13] Hartley Coleridge, The Life of Andrew Marvell (Hull, 1835), 54.

[14] Donno, 165-7.

[15] Donno, 198, 202.

[16] Donno, 187.

[17] Francis Turner Palgrave, ed., The Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrics in the English Language (Cambridge and London, 1861), 100-1.

[18] Donno, 218.

[19] Donno, 180. Others were less relaxed with their geography, but pressed the same association. In their American Protestant Library of Religious Poetry (1881), Philip Schaff and Arthur Gilman print the poem as “The Emigrants’ Sacred Song,” using their title to provide the clear endorsement of the rowers’ singing that is lacking from Marvell’s frame narrative. And they contextualize the poem by means of a headnote, associating it with the American quest for religious liberty and democracy: “In 1621, the year after the Pilgrims sailed for Plymouth, Mass., the ‘Bermuda Company’ guaranteed the liberty of worship and other privileges to emigrants, and many went to the islands from England. A representative government had been formed in the Bermudas in 1620” (Schaff and Gilman, eds., A Library of Religious Poetry: A Collection of the Best Poems of all Ages and Tongues [New York, 1881], 97). This is Bermudan history as seen from Cambridge, Mass., in the 1880s. The poem appears under the same title in Major-General Lefroy’s great 1877-79 collection of memorials relating to Bermuda—a work that remains a standard source for documents relating to the island’s early history.

[20] In a brief 1904 survey of Marvell’s works, the poet and critic Stephen Gwynn referred to the poem as “the song of the Pilgrim Fathers” (Donno, 303).

[21] Bruce King, Marvell’s Allegorical Poetry (Cambridge and New York: Oleander Press, 1977), 46.

[22] George Gilfillan, ed., Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-Known British Poets, vol. 2. (Edinburgh, 1860), 176-7.

[23] Donno,214.

[24] As noted by Beeching; Donno,295.

[25] Palgrave, 100.

[26] Jean Kennedy, Isle of Devils: Bermuda under the Somers Island Company 1609-1685 (London: Collins, 1971), 63-4, 67-8, 73, 84; Wesley Frank Craven, An Introduction to the History of Bermuda, 2nd ed. (Bermuda: Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, 1990), 24-5.

[27] Brockbank, 188-9. The population was actually thought to be extinct until the surprise discovery in 1951 of seven nesting pairs on Castle Island, from which the population was reintroduced (Kennedy, 99, 100, 215).

[28] Kennedy,114; Brockbank, 185, citing J. H. Lefroy, Memorials of the Discovery and Early Settlement of the Bermudas or Somer Islands, 1511-1687, 2 vols. (London, 1877-79), 2: 51; Craven, 108, citing Lefroy, 2: 204, 266-7, 377, 411.

[29] Lefroy, 1: 453-4, 2: 30; Henry C. Wilkinson, The Adventurers of Bermuda, second ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 303-4; Brockbank, 185.

[30] Gregory Edwin Shipley, “Turbulent Times, Troubled Isles: The Rise and Development of Puritanism in Bermuda and the Bahamas, 1609-1684” (unpublished PhD dissertation: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1989), 65-6.

[31] Cummings, 339.

[32] Smith, Poems, 58 n.; Christine Rees, The Judgment of Marvell (London: Pinter, 1989), 54; Margarita Stocker, Apocalyptic Marvell: The Second Coming in Seventeenth Century Poetry (Brighton: Harvester, 1986), 200; Robert Wilcher, Andrew Marvell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 144; Joseph H. Summers, “Some Apocalyptic Strains in Marvell’s Poetry,” in Kenneth Friedenreich, ed., Tercentenary Essays in Honor of Andrew Marvell (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1977), 180-203 (201); also Takashi Yoshinaka, Marvell’s Ambivalence: Religion and the Politics of Imagination in Mid-Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2011), 268-75.

[33] We may recall that “modestia” was one of the qualities Marvell celebrated in his epitaph on Jane Oxenbridge, late wife of the Bermudan minister (Smith, Poems, 193).

[34] David Armitage, “The Cromwellian Protectorate and the Languages of Empire,” The Historical Journal 35 (1992): 535-6.

[35] Brockbank, 182-4.

[36] Shipley, 219-29, 243-57; W. Hubert Miller, “The Colonization of the Bahamas,” The William and Mary Quarterly 2 (1945): 33-46.

[37] Fulmer Mood, “A Broadside Advertising Eleuthera,” Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Transactions 1933-37 32 (1937): 81-5.

[38] Fulmer Mood, “Henry Robinson and the Authorship of the Bahama Articles and Orders, 1647,” Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Transactions 1933-37 32 (1937): 155-73.

[39] Mood, “A Broadside,” 81-5; Robert Brenner, Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 523-7.

[40] Miller, 37; H. M. Margoliouth, ed., The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell, 3rd ed., rev. Pierre Legouis, with E. E. Duncan-Jones, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), 2: 335.

[41] Wilkinson, 280.

[42] Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, “Marvell as Religious Poet,” in C. A. Patrides, ed., Approaches to Marvell: The York Tercentenary Lectures (London: Routledge, 1978), 272-4.

[43] Smith, Poems, 57 n.

[44] Rees, 51 and loc. cit. 211 n. 49.

[45] Smith, Poems, 57 n.; Edmund Waller, The Poems of Edmund Waller, ed., G. Thorn Drury, 2 vols. (London: Bullen, and New York: Scribner, 1901), 1: 67 (II. 40-3).

[46] The Prose Works of Andrew Marvell, ed. Annabel Patterson et al., 2 vols. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003), 1: 323.

[47] Patterson, Prose Works, 1: 323.

[48] Smith, Marvell, 126-7; Summers, 194-202.