The Garden

The Garden

By Andrew Marvell

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow verged shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all flow’rs and all trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose.

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men;
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow.
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen
So am’rous as this lovely green.
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress’ name;
Little, alas, they know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheres’e’er your barks I wound,
No name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our passion’s heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat.
The gods, that mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race:
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow;
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wond’rous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Ensnar’d with flow’rs, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,
Or at some fruit tree’s mossy root,
Casting the body’s vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide;
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets, and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepar’d for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,
While man there walk’d without a mate;
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But ‘twas beyond a mortal’s share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises ‘twere in one
To live in paradise alone.

How well the skillful gard’ner drew
Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And as it works, th’ industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!

Summary of The Garden

  • Popularity of “The Garden”: Written by Andrew Marvell, a great English poet and writer, “The Garden” is a metaphysical poem of the seventeenth century. The poem presents a stark comparison between man’s life and natural beauty. The writer argues that those who fail to enjoy the beauty of nature are at a significant loss. The poem, however, became famous due to the use of metaphysical elements and other poetic techniques such as conceit and imagery. And it is still a popular poem.
  • “The Garden” As a Representative of Nature: “The Garden” is about nature. It begins when the speaker comments on the level of satisfaction some men enjoy after having small achievements. They simply go crazy to win a crown for their little labor, ignoring that their endless efforts will win them an extraordinary prize in the future. The writer compares their achievements to a crown of a single tree. He wonders if they give up on small things and do not wait to wear the garland made from the shades of other trees that offer more peace and tranquillity. As the poem continues, the speaker comments on those who admire ladies’ beauty. He wonders how they call their ladies a thing of wonder when the beauties of nature are far more attractive than their ladies. Also, he extends his concerns for passionate people, saying if we run after passion, we end up in despair. To support his argument, he presents an example of gods who ran after love. Their chase ended in the garden instead of a woman. Furthermore, he provides detail of beautiful fruits hanging from the branches and filling his heart with immense pleasure. The poem’s final stanza compares this earthly garden to the Garden of Eden. The writer compares his garden walk to Adam’s walk in the Garden of Eden. To him, Adam would have enjoyed the happiness of two paradises; one, the Garden of Eden, and the other, the paradise of being alone.
  • Major Themes in “The Garden”: Natural beauty, poetic imagination, man versus nature, and spirituality are the poem’s major themes. The poem revolves around a man enjoying the bliss of nature. His connection with nature is so strong that he wonders how men prefer worldly beauty to natural beauty. To him, earthly beauty is transient, deceptive, and short-lived. In contrast, natural beauty is permanent, long-lasting, and forever comforting. At first, he makes his readers feel the beauty of the physical garden where he enjoys his walk. He praises every nook and corner of that garden. Later, he makes them imagine the beauty of the Garden of Eden, where Adam enjoys his walks. To him, Adam had a great time in the heavenly garden when he was alone. He thinks that Adam should not have wished for a companion. He would have stayed long in the garden to enjoy the bliss of natural beauty. Toward the end, the speaker sings in praise of the gardener who made this place a masterpiece, giving it heavenly qualities.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in The Garden

literary devices, as Andrew knew very well, add uniqueness to the poetic pieces. Therefore, he has used various literary devices in the poem, whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /o/ in “Crown’d from some single herb or tree” and the sound of /e/ in “our sacred plants, if here below.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /r/ in “Whose short and narrow verged shade” and the sound of /l/ in “While all flow’rs and all trees do close.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Andrew Marvell has used imagery in this poem such as; “Withdraws into its happiness”, “Here at the fountain’s sliding foot” and “There like a bird it sits and sings.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet has used natural beauty as an extended metaphor to show how it mesmerizes people and connects them to their souls.
  3. Simile: It is a device used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. The writer compares his soul to a bird in the seventh stanza of the poem such as;

“My soul into the boughs does glide;
There like a bird it sits and sings.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as beauty, truth, praise, spirituality, and man versus nature to highlight their importance in man’s pleasure and happiness.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Garden

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction having rhetorical devices, symbolism, and impressive images.
  2. Tone: It means the voice of the text of the poem. The poem shows an exciting and satisfying tone.
  3. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Andrew Marvell has used end rhyme in this poem, such as; “see/tree”, “then/men” and “chase/race.”
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB rhyme Scheme, and this pattern continues until the end.
  5. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are nine stanzas in this poem, with each comprising eight verses.

Quote to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when praising the wonders of nature spread all around the world.

“How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!”