The Mower against Gardens

By Andrew Marvell 1621–1678 Andrew Marvell
Luxurious man, to bring his vice in use,
   Did after him the world seduce,
And from the fields the flowers and plants allure,
   Where nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclosed within the gardens square
   A dead and standing pool of air,
And a more luscious earth for them did knead,
   Which stupified them while it fed.
The pink grew then as double as his mind;
   The nutriment did change the kind.
With strange perfumes he did the roses taint,
   And flowers themselves were taught to paint.
The tulip, white, did for complexion seek,
   And learned to interline its cheek:
Its onion root they then so high did hold,
   That one was for a meadow sold.
Another world was searched, through oceans new,
   To find the Marvel of Peru.
And yet these rarities might be allowed
   To man, that sovereign thing and proud,
Had he not dealt between the bark and tree,
   Forbidden mixtures there to see.
No plant now knew the stock from which it came;
   He grafts upon the wild the tame:
That th’ uncertain and adulterate fruit
   Might put the palate in dispute.
His green seraglio has its eunuchs too,
   Lest any tyrant him outdo.
And in the cherry he does nature vex,
   To procreate without a sex.
’Tis all enforced, the fountain and the grot,
   While the sweet fields do lie forgot:
Where willing nature does to all dispense
   A wild and fragrant innocence:
And fauns and fairies do the meadows till,
   More by their presence than their skill.
Their statues, polished by some ancient hand,
   May to adorn the gardens stand:
But howsoe’er the figures do excel,
   The gods themselves with us do dwell.

Source: Complete Poems (1996)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Andrew Marvell 1621–1678

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Nature, Jobs & Working, Landscapes & Pastorals, Gardening, Activities

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Couplet

 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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Jobs & Working, Landscapes & Pastorals, Gardening, Activities

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.