How vainly men themselves amaze To win the palm, the oak, or bays; And their uncessant labors see Crowned 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 hers exceed! Fair trees! wheresoe’er your barks I wound No name shall but your own be found. When we have run our passion’s 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, 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. 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 combs 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 walked 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 skillful gard’ner 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 reckoned but with herbs and flowers!
This poem is in the public domain.
A well-known politician, English poet and satirist Andrew Marvell held office in Oliver Cromwell's government and represented Hull to Parliament during the Restoration.
Date Published: 1681-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/garden