ANDREW MARVELL is the most enigmatic of English writers. Aubrey tells us that he was merry and cherry-cheeked, but that he would not drink in company, keeping, nevertheless, some bottles of wine in his lodgings 'to refresh his spirits and exalt his muse'. Nearly all the poems on which his fame depends were not published until after his death, and, if they circulated in manuscript during his lifetime, they made nothing like the impression that Donne's Songs and Sonnets did. Even when they were published posthumously in 1681, Marvel's poetry met, as far as we can tell, with indifference. The fact that so many extant copies of the folio lack the portrait suggests that interest in Marvell was confined to the political figure and not the poet.
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