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The Top 500 Poems: 500-401 
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
I'm glad Andrew Marvell is getting plaudits, because 403 is his, too.

The Picture of little T.C.
in a Prospect of Flowers

i
See with what simplicity
This Nimph begins her golden daies!
In the green Grass she loves to lie,
And there with her fair Aspect tames
The Wilder flow'rs, and gives them names:
But only with the Roses playes;
And them does tell
What Colour best becomes them, and what Smell.

ii
Who can foretel for what high cause
This Darling of the Gods was born!
Yet this is She whose chaster Laws
The wanton Love shall one day fear,
And, under her command severe,
See his Bow broke and Ensigns torn.
Happy, who can
Appease this virtuous Enemy of Man!

iii
O then let me in time compound,
And parly with those conquering Eyes;
Ere they have try'd their force to wound,
Ere, with their glancing wheels, they drive
In Triumph over Hearts that strive,
And them that yield but more despise.
Let me be laid,
Where I may see thy Glories from some Shade.

iv
Mean time, whilst every verdant thing
It self does at thy Beauty charm,
Reform the errours of the Spring;
Make that the Tulips may have share
Of sweetness, seeing they are fair;
And Roses of their thorns disarm:
But most procure
That Violets may a longer Age endure.

v
But O young beauty of the Woods,
Whom Nature courts with fruits and flow'rs,
Gather the Flow'rs, but spare the Buds;
Lest Flora angry at thy crime,
To kill her Infants in their prime,
Do quickly make th' Example Yours;
And, ere we see,
Nip in the blossome all our hopes and Thee.



Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:18 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
Well, I hate to say it, but as much as I adored the other 2 by Marvell, I must admit that this one didn't really strike any chord with me. Interesting spring/flower/Flora imagery but it all came over somewhat flat and a bit cheesy for my tastes.


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Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:22 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
oblivion wrote:
Well, I hate to say it, but as much as I adored the other 2 by Marvell, I must admit that this one didn't really strike any chord with me. Interesting spring/flower/Flora imagery but it all came over somewhat flat and a bit cheesy for my tastes.


I am going to second oblivion here. Although I am not very familiar with Marvell and I only read this poem twice, it comes off as more of a sketch than a finished work.


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Sun Apr 11, 2010 3:06 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
For this one, I should have given a bit of background first; it might have helped to become oriented to the poem. From Harmon: "the title initials are thought to belong to a child named Theophilia Cornewall. Her first name, which means 'Beloved of God,' may be referred to in line 10 ('darling of the gods'). Marvell's curious title has caught the fancy of modern poets: consider Charles Tomlinson's 'Picture of J. T. in a Prospect of Stone' and John Ashbery's 'Picture of Little J. A. in a Prospect of Flowers.'"

This poem was a little vapory for me; even after two readings I wasn't sure what it was adding up to. So, why not do a little cheating? I found this brief summary/analysis quite helpful:

About childhood and innocence
This pastoral poem deals with childhood and innocence. It is playful but there is an underlying ambiguity, as the poet looks ahead and sees the little girl growing up and losing her innocence. He is both looking at her directly, perhaps from his memory of her, and looking at a picture of her. So she is not there in person for him to talk to. There is therefore not quite the naturalness we might suppose at first, since he is addressing a copy of her, the artificial, not the real child. ‘Artifice’ therefore becomes part of the ambiguity, part of the loss of innocence.

Flowers
The flowers are the central image of the poem. We are reminded of Marvell's The Coronet, where the weaving of flowers was a sign of the making of poetry. Little T.C. is a ‘Nimph’, a semi-divine maiden in Greek pastoral mythology. The grass is ‘green’, suggesting innocence as well as lush nature. She tames the wilder flowers and ‘gives them names’. The poet is echoing the role of Adam in naming the living creatures in the Garden of Eden, that of naming (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:19-20). However, she will only play with the roses, the symbol of love.

What lies ahead?
The poet thinks ahead. For what purpose was she born? He uses mythological language referring to ‘the Gods’ and Cupid (‘wanton Love’). Her ‘chaster Laws’ will tame Cupid's lasciviousness, but in doing so, she will become an ‘Enemy of Man’ , where ‘Man’ really does mean ‘male’ rather than ‘human’. The language is of power (‘her command severe’), which is enlarged upon in the third stanza: ‘those conquering Eyes’, ‘glancing wheels’, ‘Triumph’, ‘thy Glories’. She is going to be very beautiful when she grows up, and the poet knows it. Best for him to get in her good books now, before it is too late. In the battle of love, her suitors will have no chance: they will be trampled on and left for dead!

The symbolism of the flowers
The poet then returns to the present, and what a dramatic contrast! Everything in the garden is benefiting from her presence. He launches a series of hyperbolic conceits detailing what she should now do: ‘Reform the errours of the Spring’, by giving the tulips a scent, taking the thorns out of rose-bushes, and allowing violets to flower for much longer. Each hyperbole uses significant flower symbolism. Tulips are pretty but without a scent. 2 Corinthians 2:15 suggests we need a scent, ‘an aroma of life’. Roses make bleed those who try to pluck them: to take thorns away would be to render them innocent. Violets are a symbol of modesty: to make them last longer means to hope that T.C. will retain her modesty for longer. So the ‘errours’ are really the errors waiting for her as she grows up, her ‘fall’ from innocence.

A final plea
The final plea in the last stanza is for her to gather flowers but not the buds. He echoes the Cavalier poet Robert Herrick's ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’, only to deny it. Do not ‘seize the day’, even though that is what he, as male lover, wanted in To his Coy Mistress. Now, speaking in the role of an older man, he wants her to stay ‘coy’. If not, he fears Flora, the goddess of flowers in Greek mythology, will take revenge and ‘Nip in the blossome all our hopes and Thee.’ As the crime is ‘to kill her infants’, Marvell is thinking sombrely of the possibility that she may die young, rather than simply of an early loss of virginity or innocence. It is a dark note on which to finish. However, in an age where the majority of children never reached adulthood, it is a very real prayer. The ultimate enemy is not loss of innocence, but death itself.

Investigating The Picture of Little T.C.

Read through Marvell’s The Picture of little T.C.
What does ‘his Bow broke and his Ensigns torn’ refer to?
Why does he call her ‘young beauty of the Woods’?
How does Marvell convey his ambivalent feelings?
How can childhood innocence be vulnerable?

http://www.crossref-it.info/textguide/M ... etry/4/284



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Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:44 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
Thanks, dwill, that certainly did help and it served to make the poem more interesting and accessible. HOWEVER....the previous poems by Marvell stood on their own two feet; this one did not. The symbolism is nice, the execution of the poem, nice, the innocence/childhood/bud theme is nice. But I'm afraid that's all I can muster up for this one: nice.
But again, thanks for the explanations.


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Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:51 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
The explanations do help, but for me I think that this poem is too dated. There are many old poems that withstand the tests of time, and still feel timely to peoples hearts, but this isn't one of them.


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Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:52 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
froglipz wrote:
The explanations do help, but for me I think that this poem is too dated. There are many old poems that withstand the tests of time, and still feel timely to peoples hearts, but this isn't one of them.

Thanks. That might have to do with Marvell being classified as a "metaphysical" poet. Those guys were so fond of allusions which, as you imply, might be obscure to readers of today (maybe obscure even to Marvell's contemporaries). It's no accident that T. S. Eliot, modern master of allusion, revered the metaphysical poets. There used to be a debate raging about whether poetry needed to be "difficult," meaning full of challenging references to all sorts of other works of literature, history, religion, and more.



Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:25 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
402. "The Lark Now Leaves His Watery Nest," by Sir William Davenant (1606-1668). Harmon says that Davenant was "said to be Shakespeare's godson, and rumours persisted that he was Shakespeare's natural son as well."

The lark now leaves his watery nest,
And climbing, shakes his dewy wings;
He takes this window for the east,
And to implore your light, he sings,
Awake, awake, the morn will never rise,
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.

The merchant bows unto the seaman's star,
The ploughman from the sun his season takes;
But still the lover wonders what they are,
Who look for day before his mistress wakes.
Awake, awake, break through your veils of lawn,
Then draw your curtains, and begin the dawn.



Last edited by DWill on Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:34 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
oblivion wrote:
Thanks, dwill, that certainly did help and it served to make the poem more interesting and accessible. HOWEVER....the previous poems by Marvell stood on their own two feet; this one did not. The symbolism is nice, the execution of the poem, nice, the innocence/childhood/bud theme is nice. But I'm afraid that's all I can muster up for this one: nice.
But again, thanks for the explanations.

By the way, I forgot to say welcome back. I hope you and family had a nice stay in the south of France. It doesn't sound as though it would be possible to go wrong there.



Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:39 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
Having been told Davenant was known to be at least Shakespeare's godson, I can't help but immediately relate these images to some seen in Shakespeare's work, particularly where the lark mistakes the window for the sun, I think of Romeo's reference to Juliet as the sun when he first sees her at her balcony window (.."it is the east, and Juliet is the sun"). I am also reminded of the scene in Juliet's bedroom before Romeo must flee in order not to be put to death, where first Juliet pretends that the lark is not the bird Romeo hears, but the nightingale, and that he must stay, and when he has decided to stay and claims the lark is a nightingale, Juliet takes offense and bids him "get thee hence" (yeah, I didn't mean to make that rhyme but it totally did so I had to let it stay -- please pardon my nerd humor).

Other than that I don't see anything all that special about this poem, pretty standard for the time period with nothing new and innovating or even one line all that worthy of remembering. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but other than the echoes of Shakespeare, this poem doesn't speak to me.

When do we get a Shakespeare poem, I wonder?



Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:35 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
Wow, great memory for Shakespeare's play. The rest of Harmon's note pointed out just what you did. You seem to be saying that reading this poem is a bit like listening to the easy listening station. Maybe so. I like to note movement in poems, both physically and in shifts of perspective, and that's one thing I like about Davenant's poem, the way it moves.

We come to a three of Shakespeare's poems in a few days.

401. "Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount, Keep Time with My Salt Tears," by Ben Jonson (1572-1637). This is from Jonson's play "Cynthia's Revels," and is sung by the nymph Echo for Narcissus, who has just morphed into a flower related to the daffodil. It might help to consider that this is meant to be sung, as was the previous poem by Davenant. Do you think we expect less complexity in song lyrics?

SLOW, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
Yet, slower, yet; O faintly, gentle springs:
List to the heavy part the music bears,
Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
Droop herbs, and flowers,
Fall grief in showers,
Our beauties are not ours:
O, I could still,
Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
Drop, drop, drop, drop,
Since nature's pride is, now, a withered daffodil.



Last edited by DWill on Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:25 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
Oh, just listen to the lilt of this one! And all the "W's"! Woe, weeps, flower, shower,slower, withered! And all of the aspirated consonants! It literally rolls and exudes ephemeral softness. Sing this one in a whisper.
Now, comparing the flower/innocence, etc imagery with Marvell's poem, this one wins by miles.


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Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:59 am
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
oblivion wrote:
Oh, just listen to the lilt of this one! And all the "W's"! Woe, weeps, flower, shower,slower, withered! And all of the aspirated consonants! It literally rolls and exudes ephemeral softness. Sing this one in a whisper.
Now, comparing the flower/innocence, etc imagery with Marvell's poem, this one wins by miles.


Yes, yes and yes! I must admit, I love alliteration.



Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:04 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
401. "Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount, Keep Time with My Salt Tears,"

Hum, Ben Johnson, yeah? Yes, it is a simple lyric. Yes, it is Johnsonesque contrived.
I must admit, I prefer Boswell (not his poetry, his style).


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Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:30 pm
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Post Re: The Top 500 Poems
DWill wrote:
498.

THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS
by: W.B. Yeats (1859-1939)

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

One of my very favourites. I set it to music about twenty five years ago, but got in my head "something rustled at my door" until an old friend corrected me last year when I sang it. I had missed the bad rhyme of floor with floor, whereby the trout is a changeling.



Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:49 am
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