Andrew Marvell – “Upon Appleton House” (ctd.)

Marvell now moves into the garden and manages to stick to a very sustained metaphor: because Fairfaxes are military men, the whole garden is like an army. An ancestor of Thomas Fairfax (or Thomas Fairfax himself? the poem is not clear here, probably deliberately) set the garden in shape of a pentagon. Not the Pentagon, but its five-points ar are reminiscent of a fort. What follows is a very long description of flowers as soldiers in their colourful uniforms, firing salvoes of sweet odours whenever their general or his wife pass them – but not their daughter, since she is so young and fresh they think she is a flower too. Then Marvell reverses the metaphor: England could be the Garden of Eden, protected from the world not by an angel with fiery sword but with water. But unfortunately here the Fall happened as well. In the former happy state of affairs tulips were like the Swiss guards and the magazine was the nursery. But now war took over: “we ordnance plants and powder sow”. Thomas Fairfax “might once have made our gardens spring/Fresh as his own and flourishing”. But instead he chose his “five imaginary forts” to Cinque-Ports, the five ports on the southern coast of England, of which Fairfax used to be the commander. The previously mentioned line might be read as some kind of criticism towards Fairfax (as shirking responsibility), but then Marvell makes clear it’s because Fairfax weeded ambition out of his heart and instead cultivated conscience. Now his bastion seems to aim its artillery at Cawood Castle (which is very close to Appleton and used to be a Royalist stronghold). But it looks innocently on the meadows below.


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