Andrew Marvell – “An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland” (the end)

Marvell climbs new heights of equivocation, claiming that even the vanquished Irish can confirm that Cromwell is good and just. I have yet to see an Irish who has a good word to say about Oliver Cromwell. The only justification I can think of for Marvell at this point was that it was before the age of mass media, news travelled slow and he was too willing to believe Cromwell’s own reports. But Cromwell is still an obedient tool in the republic’s hands, much like a falcon in the hands of the falconer. Who knows what else such a talented general can accomplish? Certainly he can vanquish the Scots shivering under their plaids. So Cromwell marches indefatigably on, carrying the naked sword before him, because the same forces that gained him the power must be used to maintain it. Knowing my literary sister and brethren, I am sure there are reams of papers proving that Cromwell did not mean what he wrote. Certainly there are points of ambiguity, like his sympathetic description of Charles I , as well as the fact that he constantly compares Cromwell to Caesar – but Caesar in the end did cease dictatorial power and abolished the Republic, much like Cromwel would. Did Marvell know something in 1641 others didn’t know yet?


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