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Poetry and Allegiance in the English Civil WarsMarvell and the Cause of Wit$
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Nicholas McDowell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278008

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278008.001.0001

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(p.259) Conclusion
Poetry and Allegiance in the English Civil Wars

Nicholas Mcdowell

Oxford University Press

The concluding chapter focuses on Marvell's satire ‘Tom May's Death’, the allegiance which has long puzzled scholars given its apparently royalist sentiment but date of composition after the ‘Horatian Ode’. It is argued that the poem is written in the cause of wit, rather than royalism or republicanism, and so appropriate for an audience composed of former members of the Stanley circle. May's betrayal is of the muses; Marvell fears the same charge may be levelled at him. The echoes of the poem in the 1650s verse of Lovelace and Alexander Brome, another ‘Cavalier’ poet involved with the Stanley circle, offer suggestions as to how ‘Tom May's Death’ was read by royalist contemporaries, and how they reacted to Marvell's own pro-Cromwellian verse.

Keywords:   Marvell, Thomas May, Richard Lovelace, Alexander Brome, satire, allegiance, betrayal, wit, Cromwell

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