"Damon the Mower"
In this poem Marvell seems to be questioning his own faiths and convictions, and it is only as he comes to terms with these that he is able to write so lucidly and ironically:
"To what cool cave shall I descend,
Or to what gelid fountain bend?
Alas! I look for ease in vain,
When remedies themselves complain
Although ostensibly Marvell is writing here about how his hero Damon can escape the "scorching" love he endures for Juliana they also illustrate the struggles and conflicts that Marvell is suffering within himself. He is desperate to find escape in a landscape and yet it offers him none he is conveying the sense that in such unstable times it is impossible for him to feel totally convinced of where his loyalty should lie.
In both this poem and "Upon Appleton House" Marvell relates the figure of the mower to the blind indiscriminate forces of the civil war: killing soldiers, military leader and the king alike. The poem ends with the assertion that "Death thou art a mower too." Having already described how Damon "threw his elbow round, / Depopulating all the ground" here it does not matter who is injured only death can save Damon from his destructive love of Juliana and only through death can the politics of a country be escaped.
At the beginning of the poem Love is portrayed as a destroyer of harmony in a purely physical sense, it "sears" the meadows and the hamstringed frogs can dance no more" (note the connection with the grasshoppers in "Upon Appleton House"). However as the progresses the destruction also manifests itself mentally ("Yet still my grief is where it was; / But, when the iron blunter grows, / Sighing I whet my scythe and woes"). This reflects the fact that a war not only physically harms and kills people but it also has a mental effect which may not be immediately obvious; a war affects the moods and attitudes of society as well those who fight in it.
This poem is about the potential for peace and purity of nature within in a garden setting and how this potential is destroyed by the invasion of the society and all that is unnatural. The Stoics believed that the garden was a place for peace and meditation therefore this is arguably Marvells most stoical poem.
The poem lauds the beauty and tranquility of the garden over the desire for perfection, beauty and accolades:
"How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak or bays;
Their uncessant labours see
Crowned from some single herb or tree:
In these first lines Marvell criticizes those in society who try an attain awards and praise for their actions nature may be able to provide a symbol of excellence yet those wearing those symbols will never reach the level of flawlessness achieved by nature.
Colour is hugely important within the poem: we are told that "No white nor red was ever seen / So amorous as this lovely Green". Here, typically feminine colours are subordinated to those of nature: green is historically known as the benedicta viriditas, the colour of hope and a creative spirit. Marvell is therefore seeing the garden as a place of hope: somewhere where he can retreat in order to be creative. It seems that
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