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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Andrew Marvell

256. Thoughts in a Garden

HOW vainly men themselves amaze

To win the palm, the oak, or bays,

And their incessant labours see

Crown’d from some single herb or tree,

Whose short and narrow-vergèd shade

Does prudently their toils upbraid;

While all the flowers and trees do close

To weave the garlands of Repose.

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,

And Innocence thy sister dear?

Mistaken long, I sought you then

In busy companies of men:

Your sacred plants, if here below,

Only among the plants will grow:

Society is all but rude

To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen

So amorous as this lovely green.

Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,

Cut in these trees their mistress’ name:

Little, alas, they know or heed

How far these beauties her exceed!

Fair trees! where’er your barks I wound,

No name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our passions’ heat

Love hither makes his best retreat:

The gods, who mortal beauty chase,

Still in a tree did end their race;

Apollo hunted Daphne so

Only that she might laurel grow;

And Pan did after Syrinx speed

Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons, as I pass,

Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less

Withdraws into its happiness;

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find;

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain’s sliding foot

Or at some fruit-tree’s mossy root,

Casting the body’s vest aside

My soul into the boughs does glide;

There, like a bird, it sits and sings,

Then whets and claps its silver wings,

And, till prepared for longer flight,

Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy Garden-state

While man there walk’d without a mate:

After a place so pure and sweet,

What other help could yet be meet!

But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share

To wander solitary there:

Two paradises ’twere in one,

To live in Paradise alone.

How well the skilful gardener drew

Of flowers and herbs this dial new!

Where, from above, the milder sun

Does through a fragrant zodiac run:

And, as it works, th’ industrious bee

Computes its time as well as we.

How could such sweet and wholesome hours

Be reckon’d, but with herbs and flowers!