Structure of Ode to Cromwell | Ode to Cromwell by Andrew Marvel

Andrew Marvel's literary reputation mainly rest in his poems and our present poem, Ode to Cromwell  is among the finest of them.  This poem is a manifestation of simple dignity and classical restraint in the treatment of a political theme.  

Marvel's poetic genius is evident in every aspect of the poem.  When studied from the technical standpoint,  with regard to its structure,  it is an excellent composition. 

Ode to Cromwell by Andrew Marvel | Structure of Ode to Cromwell

As the title suggest, this poem narrates the historical events related to a great political personality,  Cromwell,  who serves as the central subject of the poem.   In the guise of the events described Marvel has vividly depicted Cromwell's character as well as his potentialities and achievements.  But in between them he has given due praise to King Charles I as, 
                      "Nor call'd the Gods with vulgar spright 
To vindicated his helpless Right, 
             But bowed his comely Head, 
Down as upon a Bid "

Moral reflections in Ode to Cromwell 

Furthermore,  a few moral reflections,  arising from the course of events,  are also interspread in the poem. 

One main moral comment by the poet is that men can retain their rights only if they are strong enough, that Nature doesn't allow same position for two persons, and that when a great man appears on the scene, the previous occupant must vacated the seat. 

Thus, the three ingredients composing the poem- a chronicle of events, character portrayal and moral reflection are skillfully fused in the poem to form a whole content which strikes us by its unity of concentration.

Use of metaphors and similes in Ode to Cromwell

Ode to Cromwell is remarkable for its compactness and for the singleness of impression, through a well knit composition. 

Within the structure of the poem, Marvel has very skillfully used the various similes and metaphors through a number of figurative lines. 

Thus, Cromwell is compared to the" three forked lighting" which breaks the clouds where it was nursed. This simile is developed into a metaphysical conceit when we are told that Cromwell went burning through the air and that it is madness to resist or blame the force of angry Heaven's flame.

There is another striking simile when Cromwell is compared to a falcon which, inspite of it's fierceness obeys its trainer or owner.

All these similes and metaphors serves to create a dramatic effect in the poem.

The meter used in the poem is iambic throughout- it is composed in the short lines of the octosyllabic couplet followed by a shorter hexadyllabic one.

Use of language in Ode to Cromwell

Ode to Cromwell is notable for its concentration of meaning and economy of language. As the lines are loaded with meaning, there is a marvellous economy in the use of words. 

A large number of historical events have been compressed and the salient points of the character of Cromwell and King Charles I have been packed into just one hundred and twenty lines.


 Our above discussion throws much light on the structure of the poem. It entertains no superfluity, no excess, no degression and no deviation from the theme. Thus, we may conclude that the structure of this famous Ode by Marvel is an admirable one.

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