Andrew Marvell's Poetry
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Andrew Marvell - Biography
Andrew Marvell was born (Winestead, England) on 31 March 1621 and died on 16 August 1678 (London, England). He was a satirist, politician, tutor and metaphysical poet.
Marvell was educated at Hull grammar school. Marvell then attended Trinity College, Cambridge (aged 13) and was awarded a BA degree. Marvell had his first poems published when he was still at Cambridge – they were written in Latin and Greek.
Marvell tutored Mary, daughter of Lord Fairfax, the Parliamentary general (1651–52). In 1653, he became a tutor to Cromwell's ward, William Dutton. Marvell praises Cromwell in several of his poems.
Marvell was elected as a member of Parliament for Hull in 1659; he held this position until his death.
There is a strong Biblical influence in some of Marvell’s poems. Arguably Marvell’s best-known poem is To His Coy Mistress.
Annotation prompts for Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’
‘To His Coy Mistress’ is about love and time. Marvell (31.03.1621 – 16.08.1678) was an English author / politician / one of the 17th century English ‘metaphysical poets’ – a term coined by Samuel Johnson. These poets creatively use conceits (extended metaphors), wit, and engage with topics such as love and religion. ‘Metaphysics’ = branch of philosophy. It deals with first principles, including ontology (nature of existence) / cosmology (origin and structure of universe – laws, space, time, causality, and freedom) / intimately connected with epistemology (origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge).
Date of the poem’s (‘To His Coy Mistress’) composition is unknown. May have been written in the early 1650s. At that time, Marvell was serving as a tutor to the daughter of the retired commander of the New Model Army, Sir Thomas Fairfax. It is considered one of Marvell's finest and is possibly the best recognised carpe diem poem in English.
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further analysis and interpretation.