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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 in 1650

Marvell in 1650

(p.82) 4 Marvell in 1650
Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England

Blair Worden

Oxford University Press

If the occasions that prompted Andrew Marvell's two political poems of 1650 had happened in the reverse order—if Tom May had died before Oliver Cromwell's return from Ireland—the opposition between ‘An Horatian Ode’ and ‘Tom May's Death’ could be given a simple explanation. The May poem would be the last of Marvell's royalist poems, and the ode to the first of his Cromwellian ones. One could read the ode as a testament to a conversion from one position to an exactly contrary one. That change was duly followed, by the poem, in 1651, in support of the republic's embassy, led by Cromwell's cousin and intimate ally Oliver St John, who went to The Hague in March of that year with the purpose of undermining the Stuart cause. Instead, the May poem comes between the occasions that produced the ode and the poem on the embassy.

Keywords:   Andrew Marvell, political poems, Tom May, Oliver Cromwell, ode, Oliver St John

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