Nicholas von Maltzahn For Andrew Marvell, writing poetry was to be engaged in a promotional system as he drew on humanist skills that became his stock in trade when he determined not to follow his father into the ministry. How publicly he performed or disseminated his poetry is another matter, the manuscript evidence suggesting only a limited diffusion of his poems in his lifetime and those chiefly his Restoration satires'! The publication only posthumously of Marvell's Miscellaneous Poems (1681), which is the sole witness for much of his poetry, has cemented his reputation for privacy. Even his more private performances--those influentially characterized by T.S. Eliot as "the voice of the poet talking to himself--or to nobody" (89)--were part of a secretarial repertoire in which Marvell's virtuosity might be winningly on display, whether to others or to himself. Beyond such obvious instances as Marvell's Protectoral poems, we get glimpses of his poetic interests informing his relation to his patrons--in his correspondence with the Lord Wharton, for example--and to his family.2 The profound worldliness of Marvell's work was effaced when twentieth-century biographical tradition chose to cast Marvell as an enigma and when critical tradition chose to elevate his lyric poetry
Explorations in Renaissance Culture – Brill
Published: Dec 2, 2009
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