Marvell & Donne

Tanaqui tweaver at
Wed Jul 5 00:47:41 EDT 2000

[Gill, replying to <bill-sarah at> ]

+ I can tell you that Marvell tends to be despised more: he's into the 
+ virginity thing, while Donne's more into the sensual bit

Does the course deride Milton for his attitude to women? (I suppose that Isaac 
Newton's prissiness was outside its scope)? 

Marvell is keen on solo retreat into Nature "two paradises 'twere in one/ to 
live in Paradise alone", but I would say he's more cynical about human nature 
than a keen virgin. "How vainly men themselves amaze". If he really did write 
_Last Instructions to a Painter_, that's pretty informed on the whole fleshly 
bit. His observations are not pastoral, and he's not as remote at James 
Thomson's later _The Seasons_. He certainly feels and vividly describes sensual
Nature in the quoted poem. And how does the Coy Mistress fit your theory? 
I do like [Gill's?] class division, with the girls terming it "that worm poem".

Donne is not a consistent arguer for sensuality. He certainly feels the burden
of the flesh - "I am bedded and bedrid(den) and sick of sin", and looks to it
being minutely reconstructed by angels to be more enduring in heaven (I love
his Sermon discussing the retrieval of all his scattered particles), BUT this
does not put him in the same dissolute category as John Wilmot (OK, Rochester).

In fact Donne isn't very consistent at all. That's rather the point of his
career, from courtier to churchman. His extravagantly exercised mind produced
the Paradoxes and Problems as well as poems. DWJ fans who've only looked up
the Song which begins "Goe and catch a falling star" might like to consider
the one which begins "Some man unworthy to be possessor" which embodies the
opposite argument, or consider the Paradox about women and makeup (especially
when it flakes off the face).

I suppose by sensuality, you mean human physical affection? bah. It just means
engaged with the input from the senses. It's come to have its amorous connection
just as libido and carnality have drifted (who fancies a chunk of beef?).

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