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A Stylistic Analysis of Andrew Marvell’s Mower Against the Garden

Andrew Marvell’s Mower Against the Garden is the very first in a series of 4 ‘Garden’ poems. The poem can be read actually, as a pastoral, ecological poem concerned with the destruction of the all-natural landscape as a result of human consumerism in certain the style for very ornate, architectural gardens. This is an effortless assumption to make when taking Marvell’s private background into account. Marvell grew up in rural Yorkshire, the son of a clergyman and later resided at Nun Appleton Residence as a tutor to Lord Fairfax’s daughter. It is consequently a fair assumption to make that he would be familiar with high way of life and possibly be concerned adequate to have an opinion on ecological consequences. Even so, if we regard Marvell as a metaphysical poet, as he is credited to be, we realise there are Edenic references. Mira Sengupta’s interpretation of the poem argues that we have to read the poem as a metaphorical allegory for the fall of humankind, and that the assumption that the garden represents nature is “overly simplistic” and that it represents human nature before the fall .

Marvell’s structuring of the poem supports Sengupta’s argument. Even though the poem is seemingly non-stanzaic there is a clearly defined structure. The poem is made of three sections. The structure of the first two sections is identical, 4 quatrains which are every single created up of a total sentence, followed by a couplet. The third section is created of one quatrain. The quatrain structure, combined with the fact that the poem is of a series of 4 could help the pastoral argument, representing the 4 seasons nonetheless the 3 part structure is comparable to an academic argument – introduction, physique and conclusion – which supports Sengupta’s argument. The poem is structured to argue whereas easy pastoral poems are for the most part descriptive poems.

The rhyme and rhythm of the poem strengthen the argument. The poem is constructed of rhyming couplets that stick to an AA, BB, CC, DD, by means of to TT pattern. The very first line of every single couplet is written in iambic pentameter and the second in iambic tetrameter. The effect this has is that the very first line of each couplet tends to make a statement and the second line supports it. The meter used tends to make speech natural and is a similar rhythm to the human heartbeat, which tends to make the poem flow when read aloud, and that is the point – the poem was written to be heard, not study.

The poem’s syntax is particularly fascinating. Sengupta puts significance on the shift from ‘he’ to ‘them’ in the 1st seven lines as proof of the Adam and Eve allegory. Although she tends to make a strong case with which I agree, I think she overlooks a lot more apparent signs, which are Marvell’s use of sexual metaphors. As Sengupta rightly points out, the inclusion of the words ‘vice’ and ‘seduce’ in the first two lines sets up the narrative trajectory of the poem. The sexual and sinful connotations are clear, nonetheless it is Marvell’s use of ambiguous sexual metaphors that reinforce the argument. It is his references to, what on the surface are, regular flowers that I find particularly intriguing.

The first flower he mentions is the carnation, the “pink” which “grew as double as his mind” l9. Is he referring right here to a easy double-bloomed flower or some thing else? My interpretation is that simply because he [Adam] is no longer pure in thoughts due to the introduction of a “nutriment” l10 [Eve] his penis [pink] grew to twice its normal size – in quick he was aroused. The subsequent incidence of innocence having sexual connotations is the tulip, a peculiar flower that seems to represent the female reduced kind aesthetically but is “overtly and precisely phallic’ according to the gardener Monty Don . Next he mentions the ‘Marvel of Peru’. This exotic flower was only a current discovery at the time the poem was written and its properties once more allude to sexuality. It has utilizes as an aphrodisiac and has the peculiar high quality of being capable to produce two distinct coloured blooms on the identical plant.

The property that all these flowers have in frequent is duality or doubling in some kind. The double pink head of the carnation, the aesthetic peculiarity of the tulip and the double-bloom possible of the Marvel of Peru. This dualistic reoccurrence ties them together neatly with the “cherry that does Nature vex” l29 – they are all potentially hermaphrodites. The carnation visually resembles the female sex organs yet in the poem it represents the phallus. The tulip, described by Jeanette Winterson as a “queer tiny flower” and, a lot more significantly, she makes use of to represent sexual transformation, is aesthetically each sexes . The Marvel of Peru is a confirmed hermaphrodite, just like the cherry that can “procreate with no a sex” l30. The cherry itself has sexual connotations, stones becoming a slang term for testicles when the poem was developed.

All this is relevant to the poems topic and Sengupta’s argument in that ahead of the introduction of sex and wish in the ‘Garden [of Eden]’ Adam was also a hermaphrodite or at least sexless. Sengupta explains it hence

‘with the influence of the Mower [mankind after the fall] the plants vex their personal nature, due to the fact they no longer procreate as they have been intended to (asexually)[…] rather of getting sex the organic way, the fruits and plants[…] have discovered to procreate by indicates of grafting […] the way humans do, with a companion.”

By making use of seemingly natural allegories Marvell succeeds in producing a poem that conveys itself initially as a straightforward pastoral poem with ecological undertones, even so the underlying sexual allusions imply that the poem succeeds in doing specifically what he accuses the ‘Mower’ of doing the introduction of the thought of sex and lust taints what was when pure and innocent.



Don, M (2005) My Roots, Excellent Britain: Hodder & Stoughton. Extract accessible at means&source=bl&ots=3FYxb0QuHX&sig=7Yiiy3boNbBsvAr0C64lTQqnHdc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FuAyU7SwD8KRhQe_2YC4BA&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=phallic%20tulip%20meaning&f=false

Douglas, E (2014) ‘That was a terrible point to do to a flower: Floral Pleasures and Changeable Bodies Virginia Woolfs Orlando and Jeanette Wintersons The Powerbook’, , (), p14. [On-line]. Accessible at: (Accessed: 26/three/14).

Greenblatt (2012) ‘Andrew Marvell’, in Greenblatt (ed.) Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume B. New York: W.W Norton & Business, pp. 1789-1790.

Sengupta, M () Grafting The Texts: An Intertextual Reading of Marvell’s Mower and Garden Poems, Obtainable at: (Accessed: 26/03/2014).
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