Andrew Marvell, 'An Horatian Ode'

Written 1650, published 1681

Marvell, 'An Horatian Ode'


  • Intro

    Andrew Marvell’s 'To His Coy Mistress' is one of the best-known poems on the theme of carpe diem (seize the day), and is typical of the finely-crafted development of metaphor and extended imagery, known as conceit, used by the metaphysical poets.


    Andrew Marvell was not known in his lifetime as a poet but as a parliamentarian, a supporter of the Commonwealth, and as a political satirist. The first collection of Marvell’s poems were printed from papers found in his room by his housekeeper after his death. Miscellaneous Poems included three poems in praise of Cromwell, and these were suppressed during publication because they were felt to be politically dangerous. In fact until over a century later, the authorship of the 'Horatian Ode' was doubtful and dependent on a single suspect manuscript.


    'An Horatian Ode on Cromwell’s Return from Ireland' shows Marvell as an objective observer of current events in which he is implicated. Having written poems which both appear to support the Royalist cause and to praise Cromwell, Marvell was no blind follower of either side, but more of a pragmatist. The 'Horatian Ode' praises Cromwell’s policies and Charles’ personal demeanour; it is crafted with care and feeling for both words and events.

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