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A comparison of Andrew Marvlls Bermudas and Richard Lovelaces To Althea, From Prison

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Introduction

A comparison of Andrew Marvll's 'Bermudas' and Richard Lovelace's 'To Althea, From Prison', with specific focus on contextual factors. The first poem I have selected is Andrew Marvell`s 'Bermudas', which appears to be a narrative poem with a distinct beginning, middle and end. The opening quatrain establishes an omniscient narrator, who introduces the characters (the sailors) and establishes the setting, 'where the remote Bermudas ride...from a small boat.' The poem is not autobiographical as Marvell never visited Bermuda, and as such this makes it unlikely that he is the narrator. He did however live in the house of John Oxenbridge, a man who had visited Bermuda twice, and this suggests that the poem may be a hyperbolic account of Oxenbridge`s experience of the Bermudas, 'gave us this eternal spring, Which here enamels every thing.' The shift from the first narrated quatrain to the ventriloquised sailors song appears to be Marvell attempting to distance himself from the implied criticism within the song, 'An isle so long unknown, And yet far kinder than our own?' ...read more.

Middle

The claim that God, 'sends the fowl to us in care,' is reminiscent of the manna sent to the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. It is an inter contextual reference also used in Marvell`s 'On A Drop Of Dew', where he further describes the manna as, 'congealed and chill...on earth.' If this is how he sees God's gift of food then it creates a dichotomy, as a theme of the poem is God's love for man, and yet it does not appear loving to send something inedible. This could be interpreted as a warning of sorts about the limits of God`s love, and can be linked to the line, 'But apples plants of such a price,' as this alludes to the apple from the Garden of Eden that was the reason man was evicted from paradise the first time. The second poem I have selected is 'To Althea, From Prison' by Richard Lovelace. It is believed the poem is addressed to Lucy Sacheverell, and as such his choice of the pseudonym Althea is of note due to its notoriety in Greek mythology as that of a mother who killed her son with fire. ...read more.

Conclusion

This constant reiteration of his loyalty may be to comfort himself, as he was an active part of Charles I battles in Scotland and may be worried about his political standing as he now cannot play an active role in the power struggle. The fourth stanza is somewhat existential, and also indicative of how well educated Lovelace was, as he questions the nature of reality and appears to conclude that it is more mental than physical, 'Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.' As such he cannot truly be imprisoned as his mind is free and his allegiance remains intact, to the extent that he is imprisoned again at a later date for his political convictions. Lovelace also demonstrates a concept prevalent in most metaphysical poetry, that of the soul and body being separate entities, 'And in my soul am free, Angels alone that soar above Enjoy such liberty.' If he does believe that the soul is the true form then he can never be imprisoned and his claim to liberty is true. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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