POETS Day! Andrew Marvell

Spudgun67, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Remember when you were a kid and every other kid in the neighborhood got a pony and you didn’t even know you wanted a pony but suddenly you had to have one? Everybody’s playing with ChatGPT. How did I make it all these years without a clockwork house elf serving uncanny valley made-to-order imitations of Metallica songs for my amusement? I asked it to do the Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday introductory paragraph for me this week. Courtesy of our soon to be overlord:

Write an intro paragraph like ordinary-times POETS Day.

Ah, finally it’s that time of the week again! It’s POETS Day, my friends! For those of you who may not know, POETS stands for “Push Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday.” It’s the day when the office clock seems to slow down to a crawl and everyone is counting down the minutes until they can head out and enjoy the weekend. Whether you’re planning on hitting the town or just relaxing at home, there’s no denying the excitement that comes with the start of the weekend. So, let’s wrap up those last few tasks and get ready to let our hair down – after all, it’s POETS Day!

Write an intro haiku like ordinary-times.com POETS Day.

POETS Day arrives,
A break from the daily grind,
Weekend, unbound joy.

Write an intro paragraph like ordinary-times.com POETS Day but add Batman.

Welcome to another exciting POETS Day here at Ordinary-Times.com, dear readers! As we prepare to bid adieu to the workweek and embrace the freedom of the weekend, we can’t help but think of one figure who truly embodies the spirit of POETS Day: the Dark Knight himself, Batman.

Like Batman, we all have our own unique battles to fight – whether it’s battling deadlines at work, juggling family obligations, or simply trying to navigate the complexities of daily life. But just as Batman knows the importance of taking time for himself and recharging his batteries, so too must we prioritize self-care and relaxation.

So, as we prepare to head into another weekend, let’s take a page out of Batman’s book and make the most of our POETS Day. Whether it’s indulging in a favorite hobby, spending time with loved ones, or simply taking a long nap, let’s make sure we’re giving ourselves the time and space we need to unwind.

And who knows? Maybe we’ll even feel a little bit like superheroes ourselves as we tackle whatever challenges the weekend throws our way. After all, if Batman can save Gotham, surely we can handle a little R&R, right?


The poet and critic Al Alvarez notes that Andrew Marvell and Philip Larkin, the two most famous poets from Hull were both confirmed bachelors, though without the connotations the phrase often carries. Mary Palmer, Marvell’s long-time housekeeper, made a valiant if self-serving effort to un-bachelor him posthumously, claiming she and Andrew were secretly married. She was reportedly trying to shield his estate from creditors by pretending to be his wife and she appears to have done a pretty good job of carrying on the ruse, at least for a time. The first collection of Marvell’s poetry was published three years after his death by a nephew. The preface was written by “Mrs. Marvell.”

Larkin’s solitary life seems to be impressed on him by temperament. He famously said, “Sex is much too wonderful an experience to share with anyone else.” Outside of his political satires, Marvell doesn’t seem so jaundiced, but despite a high profile public life his private affairs are little known.

In fact, until recently, Marvell was little known. His verse style fell out of fashion quickly. Shortly after a brief popularity his work faded to obscurity, despite occasional inclusion in various anthologies, by the early 18th century. It was T.S. Eliot, popularizer of so many of his contemporaries, that revived interest (Eliot insists his “is an act of piety, which is very different from the resurrection of a deceased reputation.”) in the poet on the three hundredth anniversary of his death with the publication of the essay “Andrew Marvell.”

Eliot compares this week’s featured poem, “To His Coy Mistress” by Marvell, to Shakespeare’s “Oh Mistress Mine,” Herrick’s “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time,” and Waller’s “Song: Go Lovely Rose.” All of them are pleas to immanentize the rosebud gathering and all of them make the case that time is fleeting and you won’t always be as young as you are right now, but Eliot notes these devastating lines from Marvell,

But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

as speaking to more than satisfaction of an immediate fancy. To Eliot, these lines put Marvell in the same sphere as Horace and Catallus. They may well do, but what gets lost in fun seduction poems that speak existential truths is that they are still fun seduction poems. It may have more heft to it than Jim Steinman’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” but “And while thy willing soul transpires / At every pore with instant fires,” and “We’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife,” speak to the same condition.

Comparing “To My Coy Mistress” to Horace’s “To Sestius (i.4)” Eliot singles out the line “Pale Death beats at the pauper’s door and palaces of kings, / the same for both.” to draw a connection with “Deserts of vast eternity.” There’s another connection between the two poems that I think is great. The personas or speakers of each is a goof. Neither is comfortable coming right out and saying what they mean to say. Horace starts out talking about the weather to build up courage and Marvell lists all manner of other things that they could be doing were it not for impending decrepitude nipping at their all to clothed ankles. Marvell’s is an endearing and well rendered exchange, even though we only get the one side.

More from Eliot: “The quality which Marvell had, this modest and certainly impersonal virtue–whether we call it wit or reason, or even urbanity–we have patently failed to define.” He tries to pin down Marvell’s wit by defining it’s products. He mentions “the proper degree of seriousness for every subject which he treats,” and lists poets that lack what he’s unable to adequately explain, but in the end settles with Justice Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it.”

It’s foolish to try to convey what Eliot could not, but to me Marvell’s wit stems from an understanding that in almost all things while our desires are direct, our methods are tortuous and so we’re always on the cusp of a misstep. But that’s not quite it.

To His Coy Mistress

Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678)

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Write an intro hiaku like ordinary-times.com POETS Day but add Batman.

Gotham City streets,
POETS Day arrives with grace,
Batman on patrol.

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