The Downlow

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austin, texas, United States
aspiring writer, English and journalism student, hails from Texas. likes include writing, coffee, books, whisky and people.

Friday, February 18, 2011

hide your ring

A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body
Andrew Marvel


          O Who shall, from this Dungeon, raise
     A Soul enslav'd so many wayes?
     With bolts of Bones, that fetter'd stands
     In Feet; and manacled in Hands.
     Here blinded with an Eye; and there
     Deaf with the drumming of an Ear.
     A Soul hung up, as 'twere, in Chains
     Of Nerves, and Arteries, and Veins.
     Tortur'd, besides each other part,
     In a vain Head, and double Heart.


          O who shall me deliver whole,
     From bonds of this Tyrannic Soul?
     Which, stretcht upright, impales me so,
     That mine own Precipice I go;
     And warms and moves this needless Frame:
     (A Fever could but do the same.)
     And, wanting where its spight to try,
     Has made me live to let me dye.
     A Body that could never rest,
     Since this ill Spirit it possest.


          What Magick could me thus confine
     Within anothers Grieg to pine?
     Where whatsoever it complain
     I feel, that cannot feel, the pain.
     And all my Care its self employs,
     That to preserve, which me destroys:
     Constrain'd not only to indure
     Diseases but, whats worse, the Cure:
     And ready oft the Port to gain,
     Am Shipwrackt into Health again.


          But Physick yet could never reach
     The Maladies Thou me dost teach;
     Whom first the Cramp of Hope does Tear:
     And then the Palsie Shakes of Fear.
     The Pestilence of Love does heat:
     Or Hatred's hidden Ulcer eat.
     Joy's chearful Madness does perplex:
     Or Sorrow's other Madness vex.
     Which Knowledge forces me to know;
     And Memory will not forgoe.
     What but a Soul could have the wit
     To build me up for Sin so fit?
     So Architects do square and hew
     Green Trees that in the Forest Grew.

I feel like this is probably the most interesting poem we've read during class, and one of the few that doesn't have anything to do with social status, arguing about writing or whatever else, being pompous, or trying to get into someone's pants, although thinking you can predict what a soul and body might say to each other could be construed as a bit self-important if it isn’t done well. However, I don't disagree with anything that Marvel is saying and I think the idea that a mind and body are actually detrimental to each other's health is really fascinating because it’s so unusal. There's a lose-lose situation that isn't really presented in many other texts or ways of thinking. Typically, in religion especially and in a lot of classic literature, the soul is seen as being all-good and the body as its vessel, but adding a negative connotation to either, and particularly to the soul, provides a completely different dimension to the situation.
The back and forth is also really interesting because you don’t usually see personification of a body or of a soul, since they’re kind of part of a person anyway, so you don’t usually think about what they might discuss if given the chance. The two, in my mind at least, don’t separate from one another that often, and the soul is something really abstract that it would be difficult to place a personality on, but Marvel manages to do it really well in a Dialogue between the Soul and Body. I thought the poem was really fascinating.
PS. This is for a class.

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