An Horatian Ode: upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland by Andrew Marvell
This poem is, obviously, an ode celebrating the return of Cromwell from his defeat of the Irish while looking forward to his campaign against the Scots. "An Horatian Ode: upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland" is written in AABB rhyme scheme with eight stanzas in the first two lines and six in the last two lines of each stanza.
This writing is historical, and, according to historical use of the word "Ode", it is meant as a song to be sung. The phrase "Horatian Ode" comes from the Greek poet/writer/philosopher Horace. It means an ode that has one stanza whose pattern repeats throughout it. They are also subject to philosophy and more personal than other types of odes. In this poem, Marvell uses two couplets per stanza and repeats it consistently.
An Horatian Ode: upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland THE forward youth that would appear Must now forsake his Muses dear, Nor in the shadows sing His numbers languishing. 'Tis time to leave the books in dust, And oil the unused armour's rust, Removing from the wall The corslet of the hall. So restless Cromwell could not cease In the inglorious arts of peace, But through adventurous war Urgèd his active star: And like the three-fork'd lightning, first Breaking the clouds where it was nurst, Did thorough his own side His fiery way divide: For 'tis all one to courage high, The emulous, or enemy; And with such, to enclose Is more than to oppose. Then burning through the air he went And palaces and temples rent; And Cæsar's head at last Did through his laurels blast. 'Tis madness to resist or blame The face of angry Heaven's flame; And if we would speak true, Much to the man is due, Who, from his private gardens, where He lived reservèd and austere (As if his highest plot To plant the bergamot), Could by industrious valour climb To ruin the great work of time, And cast the Kingdoms old Into another mould; Though Justice against Fate complain, And plead the ancient rights in vain— But those do hold or break As men are strong or weak- Nature, that hateth emptiness, Allows of penetration less, And therefore must make room Where greater spirits come. What field of all the civil war Where his were not the deepest scar? And Hampton shows what part He had of wiser art; Where, twining subtle fears with hope, He wove a net of such a scope That Charles himself might chase To Caresbrooke's narrow case; That thence the Royal actor borne The tragic scaffold might adorn: While round the armèd bands Did clap their bloody hands. He nothing common did or mean Upon that memorable scene, But with his keener eye The axe's edge did try; Nor call'd the gods, with vulgar spite, To vindicate his helpless right; But bow'd his comely head Down, as upon a bed. This was that memorable hour Which first assured the forcèd power: So when they did design The Capitol's first line, A Bleeding Head, where they begun, Did fright the architects to run; And yet in that the State Foresaw its happy fate! And now the Irish are ashamed To see themselves in one year tamed: So much one man can do That does both act and know. They can affirm his praises best, And have, though overcome, confest How good he is, how just And fit for highest trust. Nor yet grown stiffer with command, But still in the republic's hand— How fit he is to sway That can so well obey! He to the Commons' feet presents A Kingdom for his first year's rents, And, what he may, forbears His fame, to make it theirs: And has his sword and spoils ungirt To lay them at the public's skirt. So when the falcon high Falls heavy from the sky, She, having kill'd, no more doth search But on the next green bough to perch; Where, when he first does lure, The falconer has her sure. What may not then our Isle presume While victory his crest does plume? What may not others fear, If thus he crowns each year? As Cæsar he, ere long, to Gaul, To Italy an Hannibal, And to all States not free Shall climacteric be. The Pict no shelter now shall find Within his particolour'd mind, But, from this valour, sad Shrink underneath the plaid; Happy, if in the tufted brake The English hunter him mistake, Nor lay his hounds in near The Caledonian deer. But thou, the war's and fortune's son, March indefatigably on; And for the last effect, Still keep the sword erect: Besides the force it has to fright The spirits of the shady night, The same arts that did gain A power, must it maintain. Published in The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250-1900 1919.
Next: The Definition of Love
Find out more information about this poem and read others like it.
Metaphysical, 17th Century