David Blackburn

The man who wrote To His Coy Mistress

As Austen notes in this week’s discovering poetry blog, Andrew Marvell was highly political. The eroticism of To His Coy Mistress is anomaly in a largely political canon, founded in a political life. Marvell was a professional protégé of Milton, Secretary to the Republic, and he was a potent though anonymous critic of the Restoration monarchy; his longest poem, Last Instructions to a Painter (1667), is a satire on fetid Caroline corruption, which he perceived to be polluting the body politic. 

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