Marvell’s speakers vary from poem to poem. Sometimes, the narrator is loosely identified with Marvell himself, and sometimes he or she is an entirely fictional entity. In this particular selection, Marvell writes from the point of view of lover, a nymph, a group of English settlers, and an overly ambitious poet seeking to glorify Christ.
Marvell refers to each narrator's love interest as "The Lady." Typically, his poems depicts alienation, physical separation, or some other obstacle that prevents a physical union between the speaker and the object of his affection.
The subject of Marvell’s "Horatian Ode" was the leader of the Puritan forces that defeated the Royalist regime during the civil wars that took place in England during the 17th century. Cromwell was intensely religious and believed that God's hand was responsible for his military victories. After signing King Charles I's death warrant, Cromwell was the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1653-1658. He remains a controversial figure in British history because of his aggressive, almost genocidal measures against the Catholics in Scotland and Ireland - while some historians continue to praise Cromwell's dogged pursuit of liberty against the Royalists.
King Charles I
The son of James VI of Scotland, King Charles I ruled England from 1625 until his death in 1649. Charles I believed in the divine right of kings and based his rule of England on his own personal whims and interests. He became an absolute monarch, inciting vitriol from both English and Scottish Parliament. Eventually, he was defeated by Oliver Cromwell's Puritan New Model Army, leading to the abolishment of the monarchy. Following this loss, Charles I was executed by Parliament-backed forces for treason against the Commonwealth.
The Mower is the key figure in Andrew Marvell’s series of “Mower” poems. These pieces are variations on the pastoral form, depicting the slow erosion of the Mower’s union with his natural environment through his increasing alienation from his beloved agricultural work.
Damon the Mower
Damon is the titular mower in the second poem in the Mower series, "Damon the Mower." Damon laments his unrequited love for Juliana, which renders him unable to carry on with his work.
Juliana is the Mower’s beloved, even though she does not love him back. The mower blames Juliana for his overpowering sense of loss and alienation from his work and natural surroundings.
William Fairfax was the aristocratic ancestor of Lord Thomas Fairfax the Third. The senior Fairfax established the Fairfax Estate at Nun Appleton - which he came to possess by order of the King. Years later, Andrew Marvell came to Appleton as a tutor for Lord Fairfax's daughter.
Isabella was a nun at Appleton who eventually became William Fairfax's bride.
Sir Thomas Fairfax the First
The son of Isabella Thwaite and William Fairfax was known for his military prowess.
Lord Thomas Fairfax the Third
Andrew Marvell’s employer was the Master of the Fairfax Estate at Appleton House. Fairfax hired Marvell to serve as tutor to his daughter, Mary, and Marvell composed his famous poem “Upon Appleton House” to honor Lord Fairfax and his family.
Andrew Marvell’s pupil was the daughter of Lord Thomas Fairfax the Third. She appears at the end of the poem “Upon Appleton House.”
English colonists are the central figures in the poem "Bermudas." They sing a song of praise to God for delivering them safely to the island.
Andrew Marvell: Poems Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Andrew Marvell: Poems is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.