Structure and versification in The Garden

Very ordered verse

The metre he uses in The Garden is Marvell's favourite, the iambic tetrameter arranged as couplets. Here the couplets sit in octaves, but typically the couplets carry the units of sense, whilst the stanzas act as paragraphs. It is a very ordered verse, and reinforces the sense of order within the garden and in Marvell's life itself. Whatever crazy energy he once had (stanza one), it is all well under control now. The couplet form allows these marvellously succinct, epigrammatic statements to be made, as in ll.47-48 or in stanza eight. Marvell has learned from the disciplines of classical verse, but the terseness is mitigated by the sensuousness of description. It must be one of the most perfectly controlled and ordered poems in the English language.

Investigating The Garden
  • What do you find particularly effective about The Garden?
  • How does Marvell draw the reader in?
  • What is the difference between pastoral poetry and nature poetry?
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