The Garden

by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

How vainly men themselves amaze

To win the palm, the oak, or bays;

And their uncessant labors see

Crowned from some single herb or tree,

Whose short and narrow-vergèd shade

Does prudently their toils upbraid;

While all the flowers and trees do close

To weave the garlands of repose.

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,

And Innocence, thy sister dear!

Mistaken long, I sought you then

In busy companies of men:

Your sacred plants, if here below,

Only among the plants will grow;

Society is all but rude,

To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen

So amorous as this lovely green;

Fond lovers, cruel as their frame,

Cut in these trees their mistress’ name.

Little alas, they know or heed,

How far these beauties hers exceed!

Fair trees! wheresoe’er your barks I wound

No name but shall your own be found.

When we have run our passion’s heat,

Love hither makes his best retreat:

The gods who mortal beauty chase,

Still in a tree did end their race.

Apollo hunted Daphne so,

Only that she might laurel grow.

And Pan did after Syrinx speed

Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters on the vine,

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons as I pass,

Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness:

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find;

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,

Or at some mossy fruit tree’s root,

Casting the body’s vest aside,

My soul into the boughs does glide;

There like a bird it sits and sings,

Then whets, and combs it’s silver wings;

And, till prepar’d for longer flight,

Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,

Whil man then walk’d without a mate;

After a place so pure and sweet,

What other place could yet be meet!

But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share

To wander solitary there;

Two paradises ’twere in one

To live in paradise alone.

How well the skillful gard’ner drew

Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,

Where from above the milder sun

Does through a fragrant zodiac run;

And as it works, th’industrious bee

Computes its time as well as thee.

How could such sweet and wholesome hours

Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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