The Garden – Critical Appreciation

The Garden – Critical Appreciation | Andrew Marvell

The Garden – Critical AppreciationAndrew Marvell has been deemed as one of the finest and renowned metaphysical poets. His poem “The Garden” was composed in 1651; it reflects all the characteristics of the metaphysical poetry. According to  William J. Long, Marvell’s poetry shows the conflict between the two schools of Spenser and Donne.

The Garden – Critical Appreciation

Though Andrew Marvell composed some wonderful lyrics, he was famous for his satires produced during the Restoration era. Andrew Marvell’s poem “The Garden” is replete with rich imagery and sensuous expressions. The poem is the finest composition about the charms of the Garden: Nature.


Arthur Compton-Rickett states, “In technique he was admirable, and while displaying no small measure of the charm and grace of the Cavalier lyricists, he unites with them sobriety and restraint that are rarely found outside Milton.”

The poem presents Andrew Marvell’s genius as a metaphysical poet. In “The Garden”, Andrew Marvell has discussed the superiority of contemplative and peaceful life over the life of action.

Émile Legouis remarked, “Marvell gives expression to his enjoyment of the contemplation of fields and woods and gardens; he knows the aspects of bush and bird and blossom. He likes to read ‘in Nature’s mystick Book’. He anticipates the Lake-poets in his almost pantheistic love of the country-side.”

Like other metaphysical poems, Andrew Marvell’s poem “The Garden” begins abruptly with a sarcastic note. Marvell condemns people who run after material pleasures. He points out that human endeavours are just worthless and futile when they strive for worldly achievements. Despite their efforts, they cannot attain perfect bliss and solace of mind, soul and their senses.

Marvell suggests that man can derive spiritual, intellectual and physical pleasure only in the company of nature. Nature imparts repose and calm to the disturbed minds of human beings. The poet further criticises the vain activities of people aroused by the the love and greed of glory.

Marvell derives immense pleasure in the company of nature. He condemns the artificial life of courts and towns in the poem. The poet finds joy and tranquillity in the lap of nature rather than in uncivilised and barbarous society. Marvell puts stress on the superiority of the garden over the mundane activity of town life. The poet wants to suggest that true peace and innocence are found only in nature.

The poet states that the magnanimity of Nature is superior to celestial beauty and glory because Nature has the capacity to impart serenity of mind, soul and senses. Hence, even mighty gods like Apollo and Pan find solace in the company of nature.

Andrew Marvell celebrates the magnanimity and serenity of nature. He expresses his abhorrence for the foolish and mundane activities of lovers who carve the names of their beloveds on the bark of the trees. By doing so, they spoil and cause trouble to the threes. Marvell observes that the beauty of the garden is more enchanting and enticing than the beauty of their beloveds.

Marvell further tells the readers that the joy and bliss that arise from nature on a physical plane. He has employed figures which make us feel, touch, smell, hear and see the lovely ripened fruits and many coloured flowers in the garden.

The Garden – Critical Appreciation

The poem makes the readers recall Keats’ famous poem “Ode to Autumn” in which Keats has employed sensuousness in an artistic manner. Marvell’s poem “The Garden” is also rich in sensuous imagery. The description of the fruits in the garden presents sensuous imagery to the readers. The poet says:

“Ripe Apples drop about my head;

The Luscious Clusters of the Vine

Upon my Mouth do crush their Wine;

The Nectaren, and curious Peach,

Into mu hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on Melons, as I Pass,

Insnar’d with Flowers, I fall on Grass.” 

Marvell celebrates the rational side of the mind which enables people to relate things together to see resemblances between one thing and the other.

In “The Garden” Andrew Marvell states that man can attain loftiness of mind in the company of nature. The celestial and blissful atmosphere of the garden gives birth to fresh and youthful thoughts.

Man can conceive and create different world in his mind only in the garden. The garden arouses intellectual power in mankind. The garden imparts calm and joyous surrounding to man.

The poet forgets his physical self, his worries and anxieties and comes in contact with his soul in the garden. Thus nature puts the poet into a spiritual mood and makes the poet escape from the gross and material world.

The tranquil and serene atmosphere in the garden enables the poet to hold commune with the Almighty. Here Marvell compares his soul to a bird which gets ready for a journey to heaven. He regains his lost purity in the garden. The image of the bird is quite symbolic.

The poet has transformed an abstract idea into a concrete one with the help of a simile. He creates a realistic picture of how the bird-soul behaves in the company of nature. The poet says:

 “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.” 

Finally, Andrew Marvell, like Adam, experiences celestial bliss as being alone in the garden. Marvell describes his solitary state in the garden which cannot be attained because of decay and degeneration of values in the world.

The poet wants to suggest that the spiritual bliss which he experienced in the garden is just like the bliss Adam had experienced in the garden of Eden before it was spoilt by his companion Eve.

There is an image of the sundial formed by the flowers and herbs. Marvell thinks that the herbs and flowers collectively serve as a sundial. The laborious bees are able to calculate the passing time as accurately as we do. The sundial regulates its activities by the progress of the sun.

The poet suggests that man should also his time in the company of nature just like honey bees and should collect the nectar of bliss and joy by seeing the flowers in the garden.

Thus, the poet describes the pleasures experienced by the poet in various ways. In brief, Andrew Marvell’s lyric poem “The Garden” is highly rich in imagery and it is a the finest nature poem produced in the arena of English poetry.

 Read it also: Ode on a Grecian Urn-Critical Appreciation

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