A. D. Cousins ommentary on "The Garden" has often tried to identify Marvell's speaker with a particular philosophical tradition or religious doctrine.! The outcome has been suggestive if inconclusive: to indicate how many different, albeit sometimes closely related, modes of thought have pertinence to his soliloquy even though none seems solely to elucidate it. 2 Although no one set of beliefs appears to shape the speaker's monologue, a quite recognizable procedure does appear to direct its unfolding. Here I propose that Marvell's speaker reflects on his retreat into the garden in terms recalling those of the via purgativa and the via illuminativa - the purgative and illuminative ways familiar from the literature of mystical experience. 3 I argue that his doing so dominates the poem's development and leads to his eventual gesturing toward the via unitiva, which forms the third and last of the mystical paths. 4 It is, therefore, especially on Marvell's evocations of the via purgativa and via illuminativa that I shall focus in the discussion that follows. I am not, however, about to argue that "The Garden" should be read in terms of Christian mysticism as set out in a form established by some famous,
Explorations in Renaissance Culture – Brill
Published: Dec 2, 2013
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