The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn

Original Text: 
Andrew Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems, ed. Mary Marvell (1681). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 3546 A1 1681A ROBA.
1The wanton troopers riding by
2Have shot my fawn, and it will die.
3Ungentle men! they cannot thrive
4To kill thee. Thou ne'er didst alive
5Them any harm, alas, nor could
6Thy death yet do them any good.
7I'm sure I never wish'd them ill,
8Nor do I for all this, nor will;
9But if my simple pray'rs may yet
10Prevail with Heaven to forget
11Thy murder, I will join my tears
12Rather than fail. But oh, my fears!
13It cannot die so. Heaven's King
14Keeps register of everything,
15And nothing may we use in vain.
16Ev'n beasts must be with justice slain,
18Though they should wash their guilty hands
19In this warm life-blood, which doth part
20From thine, and wound me to the heart,
21Yet could they not be clean, their stain
22Is dyed in such a purple grain.
23There is not such another in
24The world to offer for their sin.
25     Unconstant Sylvio, when yet
26I had not found him counterfeit
27One morning (I remember well)
28Tied in this silver chain and bell,
29Gave it to me; nay, and I know
30What he said then; I'm sure I do.
31Said he, "Look how your huntsman here
32Hath taught a fawn to hunt his dear."
33But Sylvio soon had me beguil'd,
34This waxed tame, while he grew wild;
35And quite regardless of my smart,
36Left me his fawn, but took his heart.
37     Thenceforth I set myself to play
38My solitary time away,
39With this, and very well content
40Could so mine idle life have spent;
41For it was full of sport, and light
42Of foot and heart, and did invite
43Me to its game; it seem'd to bless
44Itself in me. How could I less
45Than love it? Oh, I cannot be
46Unkind t' a beast that loveth me.
47     Had it liv'd long, I do not know
48Whether it too might have done so
49As Sylvio did; his gifts might be
50Perhaps as false or more than he.
51But I am sure, for aught that I
52Could in so short a time espy,
53Thy love was far more better then
54The love of false and cruel men.
55     With sweetest milk and sugar first
56I it at mine own fingers nurst;
57And as it grew, so every day
58It wax'd more white and sweet than they.
59It had so sweet a breath! And oft
60I blush'd to see its foot more soft
61And white, shall I say than my hand?
62Nay, any lady's of the land.
63     It is a wond'rous thing how fleet
64'Twas on those little silver feet;
65With what a pretty skipping grace
66It oft would challenge me the race;
67And when 't had left me far away,
68'Twould stay, and run again, and stay,
69For it was nimbler much than hinds,
70And trod, as on the four winds.
71     I have a garden of my own,
72But so with roses overgrown
73And lilies, that you would it guess
74To be a little wilderness;
75And all the spring time of the year
76It only loved to be there.
77Among the beds of lilies I
78Have sought it oft, where it should lie;
79Yet could not, till itself would rise,
80Find it, although before mine eyes;
81For, in the flaxen lilies' shade,
82It like a bank of lilies laid.
83Upon the roses it would feed
84Until its lips ev'n seemed to bleed,
85And then to me 'twould boldly trip
86And print those roses on my lip.
87But all its chief delight was still
88On roses thus itself to fill,
89And its pure virgin limbs to fold
90In whitest sheets of lilies cold.
91Had it liv'd long it would have been
92Lilies without, roses within.
93     O help, O help! I see it faint,
94And die as calmly as a saint.
95See how it weeps! The tears do come,
96Sad, slowly dropping like a gum.
97So weeps the wounded balsam, so
98The holy frankincense doth flow;
100Melt in such amber tears as these.
101     I in a golden vial will
102Keep these two crystal tears, and fill
103It till it do o'erflow with mine,
104Then place it in Diana's shrine.
105     Now my sweet fawn is vanish'd to
107In fair Elysium to endure
108With milk-white lambs and ermines pure.
109O do not run too fast, for I
110Will but bespeak thy grave, and die.
111     First my unhappy statue shall
112Be cut in marble, and withal
113Let it be weeping too; but there
114Th' engraver sure his art may spare,
115For I so truly thee bemoan
116That I shall weep though I be stone;
117Until my tears, still dropping, wear
118My breast, themselves engraving there.
119There at my feet shalt thou be laid,
120Of purest alabaster made;
121For I would have thine image be
122White as I can, though not as thee.


17] deodands. Personal chattels immediately instrumental in causing the death of a person were forfeited to the crown for pious uses. Back to Line
99] Heliades: the daughters of Helios (the sun) who wept so bitterly for the death of their brother Phaethon that they were changed into poplars and their tears hardened into amber. Back to Line
106] turtles: turtle doves. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.355-58.