The Gallery

By Andrew Marvell 1621–1678 Andrew Marvell
Clora, come view my soul, and tell   
Whether I have contrived it well.   
Now all its several lodgings lie   
Composed into one gallery;
And the great arras-hangings, made   
Of various faces, by are laid;   
That, for all furniture, you’ll find   
Only your picture in my mind.

Here thou are painted in the dress
Of an inhuman murderess;   
Examining upon our hearts   
Thy fertile shop of cruel arts:   
Engines more keen than ever yet   
Adorned a tyrant’s cabinet;
Of which the most tormenting are
Black eyes, red lips, and curlèd hair.

But, on the other side, th’art drawn   
Like to Aurora in the dawn;
When in the East she slumbering lies,   
And stretches out her milky thighs;   
While all the morning choir does sing,   
And manna falls, and roses spring;   
And, at thy feet, the wooing doves   
Sit pérfecting their harmless loves.

Like an enchantress here thou show’st,   
Vexing thy restless lover’s ghost;   
And, by a light obscure, dost rave   
Over his entrails, in the cave;   
Divining thence, with horrid care,   
How long thou shalt continue fair;
And (when informed) them throw’st away,
To be the greedy vulture’s prey.

But, against that, thou sit’st afloat   
Like Venus in her pearly boat.
The halcyons, calming all that’s nigh,   
Betwixt the air and water fly;   
Or, if some rolling wave appears,   
A mass of ambergris it bears.
Nor blows more wind than what may well   
Convoy the perfume to the smell.

These pictures and a thousand more
Of thee my gallery do store
In all the forms thou canst invent   
Either to please me, or torment:   
For thou alone to people me,   
Art grown a numerous colony;   
And a collection choicer far
Than or Whitehall’s or Mantua’s were.

But, of these pictures and the rest,
That at the entrance likes me best:   
Where the same posture, and the look   
Remains, with which I first was took:   
A tender shepherdess, whose hair
Hangs loosely playing in the air,   
Transplanting flowers from the green hill,   
To crown her head, and bosom fill.

Source: Complete Poems (1996)

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Poet Andrew Marvell 1621–1678

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Painting & Sculpture, Love, Romantic Love, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Couplet, Ekphrasis

 Andrew  Marvell

Biography

In an era that makes a better claim than most upon the familiar term transitional, Andrew Marvell is surely the single most compelling embodiment of the change that came over English society and letters in the course of the seventeenth century. Author of a varied array of exquisite lyrics that blend Cavalier grace with Metaphysical wit and complexity, Marvell turned, first, into a panegyrist for the Lord Protector and his regime . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Painting & Sculpture, Love, Romantic Love, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Couplet, Ekphrasis

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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