Varieties of metamorphosis: Andrew Marvell's the Nymph Complaining for the death of her fawn

A. D. Cousins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The girl who complains at the death of her fawn confronts a violent and iterated dispossession that has therefore twice disrupted her security amidst familiar surroundings. To read her complaint is to watch her as in effect she fashions, with all the desperate ingenuity at her command, a naive yet astute myth of self-transformation - of selfhood made anew. Through that mythmaking, she tries to re-position herself in what was once almost a domestic environment: to make for herself if not a home at least fixture of both place and identity. She seeks half-knowingly to create the encompassing myth of herself as the new Niobe of a new dispensation. She could almost say, with Ovid: 'In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas / corpora'. Through her complaint, of course, Marvell himself obliquely does say as much by way of metamorphic play with myth and mythmaking. He emulously reworks Ovidian materials in The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn and he initiates that reworking by metamorphosis of a much more recent literary text, Sir Richard Fanshawe's translation of Guarino's Il Pastor Fido (1647).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
Issue number237
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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