A Dialogue between the Soul and the Body

Original Text: 
Andrew Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems, ed. Mary Marvell (1681). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 3546 A1 1681A ROBA.
1O who shall, from this dungeon, raise
2A soul enslav'd so many ways?
3With bolts of bones, that fetter'd stands
4In feet, and manacled in hands;
5Here blinded with an eye, and there
6Deaf with the drumming of an ear;
7A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains
8Of nerves, and arteries, and veins;
9Tortur'd, besides each other part,
10In a vain head, and double heart.
11O who shall me deliver whole
12From bonds of this tyrannic soul?
13Which, stretch'd upright, impales me so
14That mine own precipice I go;
16(A fever could but do the same)
17And, wanting where its spite to try,
18Has made me live to let me die.
19A body that could never rest,
20Since this ill spirit it possest.
21What magic could me thus confine
22Within another's grief to pine?
23Where whatsoever it complain,
25And all my care itself employs;
26That to preserve which me destroys;
27Constrain'd not only to endure
28Diseases, but, what's worse, the cure;
29And ready oft the port to gain,
30Am shipwreck'd into health again.
31But physic yet could never reach
32The maladies thou me dost teach;
33Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
34And then the palsy shakes of fear;
35The pestilence of love does heat,
36Or hatred's hidden ulcer eat;
37Joy's cheerful madness does perplex,
38Or sorrow's other madness vex;
39Which knowledge forces me to know,
40And memory will not forego.
41What but a soul could have the wit
42To build me up for sin so fit?
43So architects do square and hew
44Green trees that in the forest grew.


15] needless: needing nothing, i.e., not needing the soul. Back to Line
24] that cannot feel: i.e., the soul not having senses. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.354-55.