Notes on Marvell

Book list (bibliography):

I used this edition of Marvell’s poems, because it is new and has lots of useful notes: Andrew Marvell, Poems, edited by Nigel Smith (London, 2003). The place and date in brackets after the title of a book show you when and where it was published, which help to find the book in a library or at the enquiries desk of a bookshop. However, it’s too expensive to buy – I used the copy from the University English library. If you want to buy some Marvell to read, the one I bought myself is:

Andrew Marvell, The Complete Poems, edited by George de F. Lord (Everyman’s Library: London, 1993).

Finding Marvell’s Sources

When I did an MPhil essay about ‘Bermudas’ I tried to find out as much as I could about Marvell’s sources for the poem. ‘Sources’ are texts – books, letters, plays, other poems, newspapers – anything – that a writer uses to get ideas or words for his or her writing. As we’ve seen with Marvell’s ‘Bermudas’, looking at the sources of a piece of writing can be a fascinating way of finding out more about what is really going on in the text, and also about what it might have meant to contemporary readers – readers who read the poem at the time it was written.

Don’t buy these! You can only get them in university libraries – I just want to give you an idea of the things you can read if you’re doing English at university and want to know more about a poem. In the online seminar we looked at bits of these accounts of the Bermuda islands, written in the early 1600s:

Lewes Hughes, A Letter from the Summer Ilands, London, 1615 (Amsterdam, 1971).

John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and The Summer Isles, Together with The True Travels, Adventures and Observations, and A Sea Grammar (Glasgow, 1907).

Did you know?

If you’ve read Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, you’ll know it’s set on a strange island somewhere. Guess what: Shakespeare probably read the same accounts of the Bermuda islands that Marvell did, and used them to create the island in his play.