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Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England$
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Blair Worden

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199230822

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199230822.001.0001

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Marvell and Nedham

Marvell and Nedham

(p.54) 3 Marvell and Nedham
Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England

Blair Worden

Oxford University Press

Like John Milton, Andrew Marvell can seem a spokesman for solitariness. Though he ‘would drink liberally by himself’, to ‘refresh his spirits and exalt his muse’, he would—unlike Marchamont Nedham—‘never drink hard in company’ or ‘play the good-fellow in any man's company’. Marvell's writing, like Milton's, makes a virtue of single-handedness. Like Milton's solitary heroes, Marvell's Oliver Cromwell, who in the poem on ‘The First Anniversary’ of the protectorate moves ‘in dark nights, and in cold days alone’, never seems to need a friend or counsellor, and would be a less imposing force beside one. Marvell himself can be vividly alone in his verse. If the later Marvell is a lyrical writer as well as a political writer, the earlier one proves to be as much a political animal, and as close to the world of public satire and polemic, as his successor.

Keywords:   John Milton, Andrew Marvell, solitariness, Marchamont Nedham, Oliver Cromwell, satire, polemic

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