Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Marvell's Triffid

I can't be the only reader to be struck by how sinister is the supposedly-paradiscal horn-of-plenty eagerness to please of the vegetation in Marvell's Garden:
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,
Insnared 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.
There's no positive gloss I can see on that 'annihilation': it (surely!) can only convey a kind of rural carthago delenda est with respect not only to cities but to human consciousness. Ugh!

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