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“Twicknam Garden

The Poem
“Twicknam Garden” is a lyric in three unorthodox nine-line stanzas, with five lines in
iambic pentameter and four in iambic tetrameter, rhyming ababbccdd. It is essentially a
compliment poem, a gift to the poet’s (theoretical) mistress. Both the persona speaking in
the poem and the recipient are participating in a popular social role-playing game of the
period. The poet presents himself as emotionally devastated because he cannot stop
loving, although his beloved constantly rejects him and even holds him in disdain. The
lady, on the other hand, while

'Twickenham Garden' by John Donne is a meta-physical poem

... 1) 'Twickenham Garden' is a meta-physical poem in the sense that the main focus is
about love and the fact that Donne cannot receive any back from the girl he has fallen in
love with. In this poem love is mentioned continually throughout in different contexts. In
the first stanza Donne is describing his state of misery and loneliness and the inner
turmoil he suffers from falling in love with a woman he cannot have. The first line:
"Blasted with sighs, and surrounded with teares" is showing his sate of mind, he feels as
though his heart had been 'blasted' with the sighs he utters when he is alone and
depressed. The metaphors Donne uses to express these feelings are meta-physical
because they deal with feelings and other none physical attributes like a broken heart.
The line "O, selfe traytor" shows that he himself is not happy with the fact

http://www.crossref-it.info/textguide/Metaphysical-
Poetry/4/881
Twickenham
Twickenham is probably best known these days as the home of English Rugby football.
However, in Donne's day, it was a pleasant and fashionable small village a few miles
west of London, on the north bank of the River Thames. Twickenham Park was the
country house of the Countess of Bedford from 1608-1617. She was also one of the
patronesses or sponsors Donne had been courting to help him through the difficult period
of his life after his marriage, when his career prospects nosedived.

A complaint?
Twicknam Garden could therefore be seen not so much as a love poem as a complaint
that the Countess of Bedford has not welcomed his efforts at securing her patronage. This
assumes the ‘she’ is the Countess.

A joke?
Or it could be seen as a love play, a joke, where Donne is just playing with the idea of the
Countess being his mistress, as a sort of flattery – she was, after all, well into middle age.

In melancholic mood?
On the other hand, the poem could be taken more as a mood poem: although it is
springtime, the traditional time for lovers to be happy, Donne is deeply melancholic and
with good reason.

The first stanza


Donne comes to this lovely estate or country park in the spring, looking for consolation.
But rather than allowing nature to console him, he finds his misery is transforming
nature. He is projecting his misery on to it.

The second stanza


It would have been a lot better if he had come in winter, when it would have been as
desolate as he is now. As it is, the trees seem to mock him. He appeals to Love to turn
him into one of the stone fountains or some other inanimate object or some low form of
plant life.

The third stanza


If he became a fountain, then the water that came from him, his tears as it were, would
become the test of truth for all lovers' tears. Tears in women, he suggests, are false, as are
most other features of women. The one exception is, unfortunately, his mistress, who is
totally sincere in her rejection of him.

Spurned lover
The main theme of Twicknam Garden appears to be unfaithfulness and destructiveness .
The theme of the spurned lover was a typical one in much sixteenth and early seventeenth
century love poetry. In the convention, love is also destructive of all happiness. Donne's
typical dramatic stance is always ‘all or nothing’, so clearly this links with A Nocturnall
upon St. Lucies Day as being a poem of ‘nothing’, of utter desolation.
• Donne has to be the epitome or criterion of true, faithful love
• his mistress, the epitome of the hard-hearted mistress, which, paradoxically, is her
consistency.

John Donne’s life, more than any poet’s, illustrates how the Elizabethan and

Jacobean views of the world, which was based medieval world view, came to collide with

the Renaissance one provided by the Copernican science. The result was confusion and

scepticism. The contemporary intellectuals searched for a moral pattern that governs the

world. However, in many their cases, the intellectuals fell back on to the traditional

religion for ontological support as the new science could not provide at one all the

answers. The same happened with Donne, who after spending a rather fiery youth,

became afraid of God’s wrath and looked for His grace. However, it is to be noted that

despite old age, his habit of using metaphysical conceit remained with him. But it should

be pointed out that in his religious poetry, he drew his images from the Bible.

Donne begins the poem in his characteristic conceited manner:

“Batter my heart, three person’d God; for You

As yet but knock, breath, shine, and seek to mend;”

The poet here prays to God for grace and he may have the fear of damnation. He

compares his body to a fort, which has been captured by His enemy Satan. He invokes

the “three person’d” God or Trinity—God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, to

exert his triple power and rescue him from Satan. The poet emphasises the role played by

each part of the Trinity in saving the penitent. As the heart is the gate to the body, he
implores God the Father to break, not merely to knock, the Holy Ghost to blow rather

than breathe and the Son to burn, not just shine. He feels his whole being contaminated

and that is why seeks to be made refreshed almost in a process like exorcism,

“...to breake, blowe, burn and make me new”

He finds that Reason, which is God’s envoy and which should preserve his soul for God,

has been imprisoned by the usurping enemy Satan in the same way that a town’s

governor is imprisoned by an invader:

“Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captivated and proves weak or untrue”

It may also mean that his Reason has proved too weak in its post as God’s viceroy or that,

like a traitor, it has allied itself to the enemy.

In the sestet of the sonnet John Donne, after imploring God to break into his heart,

says in his prayer that he loves God and wishes to be loved. But he finds himself in the

same situation in which a woman has been forcibly betrothed to another. That is why he

asks God to take the role of a lover and free him. He knows the real security rests in the

hand of God, and so invites Him to capture him. Again, he feels himself impure for

remaining so long in contact with Satan. So he finds that paradoxically he can be made

chaste again only when he is ravished by God:

Except You enthral me, never shall be free


Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

The explicit sexual image used by Donne may seem outrtageous, but readers who are

familiar with the Biblical equation of the devotee to a beloved can easily understand that

the image expresses the intensity of the urge for salvation.

5.1.08
Analysing Donne's The Sun Rising: as a Metaphysical and
Philosophical Love Poem
To His Coy Mistress

Had we but World enough, and Time, This coyness, Lady, were no crime. We would sit down
and think which way To walk, and pass our long Loves Day. Thou by the Indian Ganges side
Should'st Rubies find: I by the Tide Of Humber would complain. I would Love you ten years
before the Flood: And you should if you please refuse Till the Conversion of the Jews. My
vegetable Love should grow Vaster than Empires and more slow. An hundred years should go to
praise Thine Eyes, and on thy Forehead Gaze. Two hundred to adore each Breast, But thirty
thousand to the rest. An Age at least to every part, And the last Age should show your Heart.
For Lady you deserve this State, Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I alwaies hear Times winged Chariot hurrying near: And yonder all before us lye
Desarts of vast Eternity. Thy Beauty shall no more be found; Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall
sound My echoing Song: then Worms shall try That long preserv'd Virginity: And your quaint
Honour turn to dust; And into ashes all my Lust. The Grave's a fine and private place, But none
I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hew Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing
Soul transpires At every pore with instant Fires, Now let us sport us while we may; And now,
like am'rous birds of prey, Rather at once our Time devour, Than languish in his slow-chapt
pow'r. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one Ball: And tear our Pleasures
with rough strife, Thorough the Iron gates of Life: Thus, though we cannot make our Sun Stand
still, yet we will make him run.

Marvell’s achievement in English poetry is supported by very few poems, which focus on things
relating to Renaissance understanding of love as a pervasive metaphysical principle, a faculty
or even a potential fulfillment implied, an understanding of the magic on which the whole
universe seems to have been constructed. The Renaissance concept of love follows from
Platonic premises, which are explained by Diotima in Plato’s Symposium. But we also discover
the synthesis of classical and medieval forms of literary artifacts in the Elizabethan poetry.
Again Marvell had the supreme command of the comic medium of poetry, which characterizes
such distinguished writers of metaphysical school as Herick, Lovelace and Suckling, whose
poetry was comparatively free from more serious moral concern; on the other hand, Marvell’s
poetry has a genuine transcendental bias, even a doctrinal tension in love as in Donne, and
finally a masculine strength in the verbal articulation of poetry.
To His Coy Mistress consists of separate sections or stanzas linked in syllogistic chain, and
employs those standard terms of reference, which were used by Aristotle to illustrate the
validity of truth in Inductive Logic. The first movement of the poem is introduced by the
supposition “had we”and continues to enlist a series of hyperboles, which suggests that, if they
had a sufficient expanse of time and space in their hand—the lovers could desist consummation
wit sweet admirations and shy denials. The fundamental opposition to amorous dallying is
posed by the consciousness of the brevity of human life. The anxiety generated by the sense
that life is short, dismissive of human interest, provides some of the basic themes for poetry in
classical antiquity. Horace introduced the carpe diem theme in his odes, one of which contains
the famous lines including the phrase, which translated stands for an appeal to “seize the
day,”

“Carpe diem of credula …minimum posters.”

What Horace actually suggests is a need for the stoical endurance of life, an ascetic possession
of the self. But in Marvell’s poem the stoical carpe diem has been transformed and grafted on
to the context of love.

In the first section, however, the persuasion to love is mildly stated. The poet says: “My
vegetable love should grow Vaster than empire and more slow.”

That Marvell understands that his love for the ministers is not merely of vegetative nature but
also of a spiritual one is indeed significant for the proper understanding of the poem. This is a
love, which is cosmic and eternally oriented, as Donne had also stated in The Extasie:

“Love’s mysteries in souls do grow But yet the body is his book.” Donne is here speaking of
Platonic love in its purest definition, that is, a graduation from the bodily to the universal, and
from particular to general love.

The deliberate emphasis on the absurd statements in the first stanza is countered by the
opening couplets in the second:

“But at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” Not only this Time’s
devastating march is conceived in ghastly terms in an almost existential annihilation: “And
yonder all before us Deserts of vast Eternitie.”

It is this counterargument, which provides the emotional basis for the poet’s attitude to love in
the poem. The conclusions of things are, after all, negative and negating—the termination of
life in the grave offers no hope. From the perspective of the non-believer, the decision to
make best possible use of time is merely hedonistic. But Marvell’s intention is fraught with
more philosophical suggestiveness. We are reminded of Donne’s remark that there is no
working in dark night, meaning that spiritual self is helpless without the body and it is only on
our existence as flesh and blood that we can exert our will power.
The proposition that the lovers should concentrate their energies “up into a ball”—is, in fact, a
reference to emblematic imagery common throughout the Renaissance. The fired cannon ball
symbolizes wisdom or prudence—wisdom, especially of the kind that suggests a freedom from
the operation of transient natural form. In pleading to the mistress to be constituted as a ball
and fired, the speaker hints at an usual sexual consummation of their love, but this is not the
only wisdom, which the lovers are capable of achieving. Consistent with the Platonic form f the
poem, it may be inferred that Marvell is also thinking of harnessing the spiritual potential in
order to give to it a meaningful release at a proper time. According to some Neo-Platonists, the
mode of conserving and employing one’s energies in consonance with the forces of permanence
and eternity in nature was one of the primary awareness of wise man. Marvell embodies this
idea in the last image and significantly the lovers seem to have defied time:

“Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still yet we will make him run.”
The defiance is not in the fact that the functional property of time has been retarded, but in
the fact, which is more insulting to time’s capacity. The lovers will make the sun run with more
speed, but the passage of days achieved by this will not have its effect on the permanence,
which the prudent lovers will have in their possession.

TO HIS COY MISTRESS

(Explanations.)

“Had we but World enough…I love at lower rate.” [Lines 11-20]

These lines occur in the opening stanza of Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress and form
part of the speaker’s monologue aimed at rationalizing his call for the consummation of their
love.

The speaker tells his beloved what he would have done if he had at his disposal as
much time as he wants. If he were granted a long enough period of time, he would not have
been in such a hurry to consummate his love. He would then have all the time in the world to
walk by the side of Humber and he would not mind her finding rubies by the side of the
Ganges. Indulging in some more bold hyperboles, the speaker says that their love affairs would
then have gone back in time to the years before the Great Flood described in the Bible. The
lady herself—who is obviously not willing to oblige the lover-- could then have gone on refusing
him endlessly or at least until the conversion of the Jews, which is said to be an impossible
event. The speaker thinks that if they were so rich in time, they would have all the scope
necessary for the slow growth of love. He would have time to devote an age at least to every
part of the lady’s beauty. His love would grow like a vegetable. The word ‘vegetable’ is a
genuine metaphor, not a generic term here. Vegetables in Marvell’s time included trees and all
the rest of the plant-life. Like ideal love, the first property of vegetables was growth. If the
speaker had thirty thousand years and more, his vegetable love would have grown vaster than
empires—though like some trees slower than empire to grow.

These lines present one of the most famous metaphysical conceit, especially in the bewildering
conjunction of vegetable and love. The question naturally arises what exactly Marvell means by
vegetable love. J. V. Cunningham has shown that ‘vegetable’ in Marvell’s time was also a
philosophical term. Its context was the doctrine of the three souls: the rational which in man
subsumes the other two; the sensitive which men and animals have in common; and finally the
lowest of the three vegetable soul, which is the only one that plants possess, and which is the
principle of generation and corruption or augmentation and decay. The speaker means,
therefore, that his love, denied the exercise of the senses but possessing the power of
augmentation, will increase vaster than empires. It is an intellectual image and hence no image
at all but a conceit. That Marvell understands that his love for the ministers is not merely of
vegetative nature but also of a spiritual one is indeed significant for the proper understanding
of the poem. This is a love, which is cosmic and eternally oriented, as Donne had also stated in
The Extasie:

“Love’s mysteries in souls do grow

But yet the body is his book.”

Donne is here speaking of Platonic love in its purest definition, that is, a graduation from the
bodily to the universal, and from particular to general love.

2. II nd stanza:

“But at my back…do there embrace.” [Lines 21—31]

These lines occur in the second section of Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress
and form part of the speaker’s monologue aimed at rationalizing his call for the consummation
of their love.

In these lines the speaker employs a grim humour to make his mistress aware of the
absurdity of her objection to the consummation of their love. He reminds the mistress that
they do not have all the time in the world at their disposal. In fact, if they had an abundance
of time, the speaker could have waited for thousand of years praising meanwhile each part of
the lady’s uniquely beautiful figure. But unfortunately, time relentlessly marches on. It is like a
swift chariot driving human beings forward into the bleak and desolate land of death. The
grave is the ultimate destiny of every mortal and it is also a denial of all human passion and
warmth. Coy ladies, even if they consent to spend a few moments with their lovers, usually
look for a quiet, solitary and private place. The lover brutally reminds his mistress that nothing
could be more solitary and private than the grave; but unfortunately the grave is not a place
where lovers can reach a consummation of their passion. On the contrary the grave symbolizes
the decay of all human flesh. The lady who is so anxious to preserve her virginity from the
advance of the lover, must remember that after death the same prized virginity will be a prey
to the worms of the earth.

It may be said that Marvell’s image of the advance of time in “winged chariot” is almost is felt
almost in existential terms. This forms the counterargument provides the emotional basis for
the poet’s attitude to love in the poem. The conclusions of things are, after all, negative and
negating—the termination of life in the grave offers no hope. From the perspective of the non-
believer, the decision to make best possible use of time is merely hedonistic. But Marvell’s
intention is fraught with more philosophical suggestiveness. We are reminded of Donne’s
remark that there is no working in dark night, meaning that spiritual self is helpless without
the body and it is only on our existence as flesh and blood that we can exert our will power.

3.Final Section:

“Now therefore while the youthful …Stand still, yet we can make him run.”

[lines 32—40]

These lines occur in the final section of Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress and form
part of the speaker’s triumphant conclusion to his monologue aimed at rationalizing his call for
the consummation of their love. [These are the closing lines of Andrew Marvell’s poem To His
Coy Mistress and bring the speaker’s monologue, aimed at rationalizing his call for the
consummation of their love, to a triumphant conclusion. ]

Throughout the poem the speaker has repeatedly reminded the mistress that they have little
time at their disposal, that they are, in fact, relentlessly being pursued by their enemy, Time,
and that it would be a shocking waste if the she goes on resisting the call for consummation of
their love. Now he asks her to prepare for the moment when their love will triumph over time.
He says that they should form their strength together and add to it her sweetness so that they
can make themselves into a formidable force. If they can do that they will be able to beat
time. He then uses a powerful image to convey the idea of the lover’s passing through all
obstacles put in their way by Time. The image he uses to say that is that of a ball crushing
through the gates of a besieged city. This should be viewed in relation the next image of the
“fired cannon ball”, which symbolizes wisdom or prudence—wisdom, especially of the kind that
suggests a freedom from the operation of transient natural form. In pleading to the mistress to
be constituted as a ball and fired, the speaker hints at an usual sexual consummation of their
love, but this is not the only wisdom, which the lovers are capable of achieving. Consistent
with the Platonic form f the poem, it may be inferred that Marvell is also thinking of harnessing
the spiritual potential in order to give to it a meaningful release at a proper time. Marvell
embodies this idea in the last image and significantly the lovers seem to have defied time. The
defiance is not in the fact that the functional property of time has been retarded, but in the
fact, which is more insulting to time’s capacity. The lovers will make the sun run with more
speed, but the passage of days achieved by this will not have its effect on the permanence,
which the prudent lovers will have in their possession.
The proposition that the lovers should concentrate their energies “up into a ball”—is,
in fact, a reference to emblematic imagery common throughout the Renaissance. According to
some Neo-Platonists, the mode of conserving and employing one’s energies in consonance with
the forces of permanence and eternity in nature was one of the primary awareness of wise
man. Marvell here subtly uses the conceits in order to convey a philosophical understanding of
the concept of love. This is a love, which is cosmic and eternally oriented, as Donne had also
stated in The Extasie:

“Love’s mysteries in souls do grow

But yet the body is his book.”

Marvell, like Donne before him, is here speaking of Platonic love in its purest definition, that
is, a graduation from the bodily to the universal, and from particular to general love.