The Analysis of Marvell's "The Garden" : Developed Through Studied Contrast

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) unlike most of his modern readers thought it possible to recover the lost harmony with nature, which before the fall man had possessed in the garden. The theme of innocence, experience, alienation, harmony, and the complications of human relationships, alienation, harmony, nature and art are present in his poem The Garden. His intentions were those of a moralist to put matters in proper perspective - so that salvation can be attained, so that the lost innocence, the paradisaical integrity of Nature might be reconstructed with the aid of literary art in the garden of the mind.
The chief point of the poem is to contrast and reconcile conscious and unconscious states, the intuitive and intellectual modes of apprehension. Read More Poetry Yet this distinction is never made explicitly, Marvell's thought implied by metaphors. The poem combines the idea of the conscious mind including everything because understanding it and the unconscious animal nature including everything being in harmony with it. The point is not that these two are essentially different, but that they must cease to be different so far as either is to be known.

The Garden is a poem rich in symbolism. The gardens to which Marvell most directly allures in his poem are The Garden of Eden, The earthly paradise and that garden to which the stoic and Epicurean, as well as the Platonist retire far solace or meditation. The poem begins by establishing that of the entire possible garden, it is dealing with that of retirement, with the garden of the contemplative man who shuns action. Read More Poetry Man vainly runs after palm symbolizing victors oak symbolizing rulers and Bayes symbolizing the poets but retired life is quantitatively superior. If we appraise action in terms of plants we get single plants, whereas retirement offers us the solace of not one but all plants. The first stanza then is a witty dispraise of active life, though it has nothing to distinguish it sharply from other kinds of garden poetry such as libertine or Epicurean.

The innocence of the second stanza again does not distinguish it from other garden poets, for innocence is a sort of feature of the libertine as well as Epicurean garden. 'Your' sacred plants, Marvell says addressing quite and innocence are unlike the palm and oak and bay in that if 'you' find them any where on earth it will be more among plants of a garden. Read More Poetry The other can be found in 'busy companies' of men. The inference is that innocence may be found only in the green shade. Society is all but rude.

Read More Poetry This prepares the ground for a clearer rejection of libertine innocence. Female beauty is reduced to its emblematic colours -- red and white and unfavourly compared with the green of the garden, as a dispenser of sensual delight. A foolish failure to understand the superiority of green causes lovers to insult trees by carving on them the names of women. Since it is the green garden and not women that the poet chooses to regard as amorous , it would be farcically logical for him to carve on the trees their own names . This garden is natural and amorous in quite a different way from the libertine garden.

Ultimately love enters this garden, but only when the pursuit of the while and red is done. We are without appetite. Weary with the race and exertion; it makes a retreat to the garden. The place of retreat has therefore loved but not women; they are metamorphosed into trees. Even the goods have been misunderstood they pursue women not as women but as potential trees, and hence the usefulness of the Apollo and Daphne and Pan and Syrinx. The sensuous appeal of this garden then is not sexual, as it is in the libertines:
                                          "When we have run our passion heat,
                                           Love hither makes his best retreat"

The earthly paradise is here in this garden with its all enchantment. Here is the supremacy of innocence. Read More Poetry The trees and the plants press their fruit upon him. The fruits of green, and not red and white are offered in abundance, everything is by nature lush and fertile. The difference between this paradise and one containing a woman is that here a fall is of light consequence and without any tragic significance. In this garden both man and nature is unfailing. It is therefore not trap for virtue but a paradise of perfect innocence the fall is innocent and the sensuous allurements of the trees are harmless.

With a typical puritanical ambivalence Marvell alludes to the favourable conditions which enable the mind to apply itself to contemplation by the virtue of the imagination the mind can create worlds , and seas too which have nothing to do with the world which is reported by the senses:          "
                                                     ---------Annihilating all that's made
                                                                   To a green thought in a green shade.”
' Green thought ' presents a great bogey . Surely the thought is green because the solitude is green . Hence the contextual significance of green is in accord with what is after all a common enough notion -- green for innocence.

As the poet allows his mind to contemplate, his soul begins a platonic ascent. Here the influences of English mystic philosophy and of Platonism are stronger:
                           “Here at the fountains sliding foot,
                             My soul into the boughs does glide;
                            There like a bird it sits, and sings, ---”

The fountain is here a symbol of purity and the bird is an ecstasy, the joy and delight of heavenly beauty in the solitude of garden.

Marvell concludes his The Garden explicitly in favour of a special solitude which can only exist in the absence of women, the agent of temptation. Read More Poetry Women offer the wrong kind of beauty and love, the red and white instead of the green. Eve deprived Adam of solitude and gave him an inferior joy. Her absence would be equivalent to gift of a paradise. Thus in garden, in the temperate quite amidst fragrance and mildness, we have perfect joy. This is solitude, not jubilant, the garden is of the solitaire whose soul rises to towards divine beauty, not that of the voluptuary who voluntarily surrenders to the delights of the senses.
   Ardhendu De              

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