Marvell’s double negatives: Oliver Cromwell and “An Horatian Ode”. ELH 85(3), 631-667. doi:10.1353/elh.2018.0023.
Abstract: This essay seeks to establish the relation between a seldom recognized register of non-erotic yet sexual language within Andrew Marvell’s poem “An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland” (1650) and two fresh contexts: first, Ben Jonson’s Cary-Morison Ode (1629-30), and second, grotesquely sexualized depictions of Cromwell in ephemeral Civil War propaganda produced between 1645-1650. I argue that Jonson’s doubled Pindaric poetics, as well as the shadow of anti-Cromwellian satire, shape a consistent vein of innuendo running through Marvell’s masterpiece. These analyses suggest that Marvell’s famously divided praise for Cromwell in “An Horatian Ode” is more sharply ironic than has recently been thought, and form the basis for a larger argument concerning Marvell’s disruptive, double negative, or queer episteme in both poetry and politics.
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