Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Andrew Marvell. 1621–1678
  
355. 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,         5
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,  10
    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  15
    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.  20
 
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  25
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  30
    (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  35
    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—  40
 
Nature, that hateth emptiness, 
Allows of penetration less, 
    And therefore must make room 
    Where greater spirits come. 
 
What field of all the civil war  45
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  50
    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  55
    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;  60
 
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  65
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;  70
    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  75
    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.  80
 
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  85
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.  90
    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,  95
    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? 100
 
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 105
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, 110
    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, 115
    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. 120
 
 
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