Poems of the Week: April 30– Andrew Marvell

Hartley  Coleridge

Hartley Coleridge, the son of a more famous father, was a fine poet in his own right, less brilliant, certainly,  but more consistent


Full well I know - my friends - ye look on me
A living specter of my Father dead -
Had I not bourne his name, had I not fed
On him, as one leaf trembling on a tree,
A woeful waste had been my minstrelsy -
Yet have I sung of maidens newly wed
And I have wished that hearts too sharply bled
Should throb with less of pain, and heave more free
By my endeavor. Still alone I sit
Counting each thought as miser counts a penny,
Wishing to spend my pennyworth of wit
On antic wheel of fortune like a zany:
You love me for my sire, to you unknown,
Revere me for his sake, and love me for my own.


To a Cat

              Nelly, methinks, 'twixt thee and me
             There is a kind of sympathy;
             And could we interchange our nature, --
             If I were cat, thou human creature, --
             I should, like thee, be no great mouser,
             And thou, like me, no great composer;
             For, like thy plaintive mews, my muse
             With villainous whine doth fate abuse,
             Because it hath not made me sleek
            As golden down on Cupid's cheek;
            And yet thou canst upon the rug lie,
            Stretch'd out like snail, or curl'd up snugly,
            As if thou wert not lean or ugly;
            And I, who in poetic flights
            Sometimes complain of sleepless nights,
            Regardless of the sun in heaven,
            Am apt to doze till past eleven, --
            The world would just the same go round
            If I were hang'd and thou wert drown'd;
            There is one difference, 'tis true, --
            Thou dost not know it, and I do.
On a Dissolution of a Ministry
              Shout Britain, raise a joyful shout,
              The Tyrant Tories all are out --
              Deluded Britains -- cease your din --
              For lo -- the scoundrel Whigs are in.


Andrew Marvell

"The Mower Against Gardens"


Luxurious Man, to bring his Vice in use,
Did after him the World seduce:
And from the Fields the Flow'rs and Plants allure,
Where Nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclos'd within the Gardens square
A dead and standing pool of Air:
And a more luscious Earth for them did knead,
Which stupifi'd them while it fed.
The Pink grew then as double as his Mind;
The nutriment did change the kind.
With strange perfumes he did the Roses taint.
And Flow'rs themselves were taught to paint.
The Tulip, white, did for complexion seek;
And learn'd to interline its cheek:
Its Onion root they then so high did hold,
That one was for a Meadow sold.
Another World was search'd, through Oceans new,
To find the Marvel Of Peru.
And yet these Rarities might be allow'd,
To Man, that Sov'raign thing and proud;
Had he not dealt between the Bark and Tree,
Forbidden mixtures there to see.
No Plant now knew the Stock from which it came;
He grafts upon the Wild the Tame:
That the uncertain and adult'rate fruit
Might put the Palate in dispute.
His green Seraglio has its Eunuchs too;
Lest any Tyrant him out-doe.
And in the Cherry he does Nature vex,
To procreate without a Sex.
'Tis all enforc'd; the Fountain and the Grot;
While the sweet Fields do lye forgot:
Where willing Nature does to all dispence
A wild and fragrant Innocence:
And Fauns and Faryes do the Meadows till,
More by their presence then their skill.
Their Statues polish'd by some ancient hand,
May to adorn the Gardens stand:
But howso'ere the Figures do excel,
The Gods themselves with us do dwell.



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  It Is Not Always May

No hay pajaros en los nidos de antano.
Spanish Proverb
The sun is bright,--the air is clear,
The darting swallows soar and sing.
And from the stately elms I hear
The bluebird prophesying Spring.
So blue yon winding river flows,
It seems an outlet from the sky,
Where waiting till the west-wind blows,
The freighted clouds at anchor lie.
All things are new;--the buds, the leaves,
That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest,
And even the nest beneath the eaves;--
There are no birds in last year's nest!
All things rejoice in youth and love,
The fulness of their first delight!
And learn from the soft heavens above
The melting tenderness of night.
Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For oh, it is not always May!
Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth,
To some good angel leave the rest;
For Time will teach thee soon the truth,
There are no birds in last year's nest!


A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.


Lorenz Hart

Spring Is Here

Once there was a thing called spring
When the world was writing verses like yours and mine,
All the lads and girls would sing
When we sat at little tables and drank May wine.

Now April, May and June
Are sadly out of tune
Life has stuck a pin in the balloon.

     Spring is here
     Why doesn't my heart go dancing?
     Spring is here
     Why isn't the waltz entrancing?

     No desire,
     No ambition leads me
     Maybe it's because nobody needs me

     Spring is here
     Why doesn't the breeze delight me?
     Stars appear
     Why doesn't the night invite me?

     Maybe it's because nobody loves me
     Spring is here, I hear

     Maybe it's because nobody loves me
     Spring is here, I hear.

As sung by Frank Sinatra:

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

2 Responses

  1. Vince Cornell says:

    Quite a melancholic week. I remember the Housman poem from my high school lit class. That and “Terence this is Stupid Stuff” stuck in my mind ever since. I’ve never seen a cherry tree since without the Housman poem came to mind.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    The week’s not over, and I’ll post something more cheerful.