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Poem by Andrew Marvell

Upon the Hill and Grove at Bill-borow

To the Lord Fairfax.

See how the arched Earth does here
Rise in a perfect Hemisphere!
The stiffest Compass could not strike
A line more circular and like;
Nor softest Pensel draw a Brow.
So equal as this Hill does bow.
It seems as for a Model laid,
And that the World by it was made.

Here learn ye Mountains more unjust,
Which to abrupter greatness thrust,
That do with your hook-shoulder'd height
The Earth deform and Heaven frght.
For whose excrescence ill design'd,
Nature must a new Center find,
Learn here those humble steps to tread,
Which to securer Glory lead.

See what a soft access and wide
Lyes open to its grassy side;
Nor with the rugged path deterrs
The feet of breathless Travellers.
See then how courteous it ascends,
And all the way ir rises bends;
Nor for it self the height does gain,
But only strives to raise the Plain.

Yet thus it all the field commands,
And in unenvy'd Greatness stands,
Discerning furthe then the Cliff
Of Heaven-daring Teneriff.
How glad the weary Seamen hast
When they salute it from the Mast!
By Night the Northern Star their way
Directs, and this no less by Day.

Upon its crest this Mountain grave
A Plum of aged Trees does wave.
No hostile hand durst ere invade
With impious Steel the sacred Shade.
For something alwaies did appear
Of the Great Masters terrour there:
And Men could hear his Armour still
Ratling through all the Grove and Hill.

Fear of the Master, and respect
Of the great Nymph did it protect;
Vera the Nymph that him inspir'd,
To whom he often here retir'd,
And on these Okes ingrav'd her Name;
Such Wounds alone these Woods became:
But ere he well the Barks could part
'Twas writ already in their Heart.

For they ('tis credible) have sense,
As we, of Love and Reverence,
And underneath the Courser Rind
The Genius of the house do bind.
Hence they successes seem to know,
And in their Lord's advancement grow;
But in no Memory were seen
As under this so streight and green.

Yet now no further strive to shoot,
Contented if they fix their Root.
Nor to the winds uncertain gust,
Their prudent Heads too far intrust.
Onely sometimes a flutt'ring Breez
Discourses with the breathing Trees;
Which in their modest Whispers name
Those Acts that swell'd the Cheek of Fame.

Much other Groves, say they, then these
And other Hills him once did please.
Through Groves of Pikes he thunder'd then,
And Mountains rais'd of dying Men.
For all the Civick Garlands due
To him our Branches are but few.
Nor are our Trunks enow to bear
The Trophees of one fertile Year.

'Tis true, the Trees nor ever spoke
More certain Oracles in Oak.
But Peace (if you his favour prize)
That Courage its own Praises flies.
Therefore to your obscurer Seats
From his own Brightness he retreats:
Nor he the Hills without the Groves,
Nor Height but with Retirement loves. 

Andrew Marvell

Andrew Marvell's other poems:
  1. To Christina, Queen Of Sweden
  2. Fleckno, An English Priest At Rome
  3. Daphnis and Chloe
  4. Johannis Trottii Epitaphium
  5. Blake's Victory

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