Andrew Marvell's Mower poems and the pastoral tradition

A. D. Cousins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Marvell's Mower poems uniquely form a suite amidst his recurring essays in pastoral across the Folio of 1681. Scholarship on the Mower poems has sometimes suggested that they form not merely a suite but a sequence. It has likewise viewed the poems as undoubtedly associated, yet not as episodes in the cohesive fashioning of a characterization. This essay suggests that Marvell juxtaposes versions of a mower-persona in order to juxtapose the radically incommensurable or diverse discourses that, for him, now comprise or impinge upon the pastoral tradition. Displaying virtù in the virtuosity of his play with pastoral motifs and hence in the strength with which he reinvents what he has inherited from his predecessors, he engages with the pastoral tradition by way of authorial rivalry refigured as connoisseurship. The result is a suite of poems that explores the heterogeneity and divergences of pastoral in a late-Renaissance world, affirming almost nothing while elegantly and provocatively bringing almost all into question. The Mower poems examine not so much the displacement of a rustic persona as the diffusion of and discursive conflict within the pastoral mode itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-546
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of the Classical Tradition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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