Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Winter 1996 v36 n1 p171(42)

Marvell's metamorphic 'Fleckno.' Hartwig, Joan.

Abstract: Andrew Marvell's 'Fleckno, an English Priest at Rome' incorporates the author's noted poetic technique of blending serious and comical elements. The poem's central character, Fleckno, undergoes a continuing transformation throughout the poem. Marvell demonstrates his playful transforming of metaphor into metamorphosis, while Fleckno metamorphoses into metaphor. Marvell invites the reader to examine the reader's judgements by following the narrator's experiences.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1996 Rice University

While the narrator of Andrew Marvell's "Fleckno, an English Priest at Rome," progresses through his encounter with the "Priest, Poet, and Musician," the poem's "Chamelion" figure--Fleckno--undergoes a continuing metamorphosis.(1) This early poem is a remarkable example of what readers have come to recognize as Marvell's characteristic poetic technique: a hovering between the serious and the comic. The interpenetrating elements of Marvell's oxymoronic style in this poem derive from dually allusive references to specific emblematic attributes, to biblical events and sacraments, and to literary styles and genres.

Marvell's use of the "sad Pelican; Subject divine / For Poetry" (lines 6-7) is one of many playful emblematic and symbolic allusions that expand the poem's referential copiousness. Particularly interesting about Marvell's deployment of the emblematic pelican, especially in the second reference--

And so the Pelican at his door hung

Picks out the tender bosome to its young (lines 127-8)

--is the ambiguous application of its associiations with martyrdom. The two references punctuate the action of the satiric narrative, but at neither point is it entirely clear who is the martyr of the poem. At first, Fleckno seems to be a martyr in his narrow room and spare living style; yet, before long, it becomes clear that the narrator, by visiting his fellow Englishman, is going to his "Martyrdom," is making a spiritual "progress" in a sense--a parodic "passion"--and he suffers tortures of a particularly painful kind while listening first to the "Tyrant"'s verse and then to his music. By combining the episodic nature of the emblem book and of the "progress of the soul" narrative, Marvell's presentational techniques in this poem parody given poetic genres in order to satirize the subject.(2)

The "progress" poem appears frequently enough in the literature of the period but is not often defined. It depicts some kind of transition for the narrator from one state of mind/soul to another. Wyman Herendeen views Donne's "Metempsychosis: The Progresse of the Soule" as marking the "end of his [the narrator's] profane progress into the beginning of a spiritual triumph"; it participates, he says, in the "literature of metempsychosis," which traces the movement of the soul from mortal body to mortal body (as in Ovid's Metamorphoses).(3) Metamorphosis and metempsychosis "have similar formal and thematic elements," Herendeen continues; "metamorphosis emphasizes the disembodiment of the soul, and conversely metempsychosis emphasizes its serial reimbodiment; both turn on the same paradox of incarnation and the interpenetration of spirit and matter." Similarities between metamorphosis, metempsychosis, and Marvell's poem "Fleckno" abound. Whether or not Marvell had Donne's "Metempsychosis" in mind while he was composing "Fleckno," he knew of Donne's poem and "admired its `witty fable.'"(4) Years later, John Dryden developed the metempsychotic potentialities of the poet/priest with his imitation, "MacFlecknoe" (1682),(5) transferring not only the "dullness" of mind from one mortal body to another, but also adding a different country (Ireland) for its origin.(6)

The "progress" of the narrator in Marvell's "Fleckno" develops simultaneously with the unfolding of emblematic allusions. The pelican references form parentheses around the specifically emblematic icons of the lute, the frog/toad, and the chameleon. As Peter Daly has pointed out, the pelican with her piety derives from the Physiologus, the medieval bestiary based in part upon the descriptions in the Horapollo.(7) Geffrey Whitney's emblem (Leyden, 1586) expresses her selfless nature (fig. 1).(8) An extension of the emblem appears in George Wither's A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne (London, 1635), with the engraving of Crispin van de Passe (fig. 2). Rosemary Freeman finds, in comparing Wither's to Whitney's emblem, a "greater elaboration [in] van de Passe's engraving. In the foreground they are very much alike, but van de Passe has added significant background. He shows streams of Christ's blood spewing on His worshipers below. Here is poignant human extension of the bare symbolic picture found in Whitney."(9)


The Latin motto that frequently accompanies the pelican emblem, "pro lege et pro grege" [for the law and for the people], is more fully developed in the emblem's verses in Gabriel Rollenhagen's Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum, Wither's source for the engravings of his emblem collection:

Dux, Vitam, bonus, et pro lege, et pro grege ponit,

Haec veluti pullos sanguine spargit avis.

[A good ruler lays down his life for the law and for the people,

just as the bird sprinkles her blood upon her children.](10)

The famous portrait of Queen Elizabeth I at Liverpool showsher with a pendant at her breast depicting a pelican--the monarch restoring life to her subjects (fig. 3).(11)


Richard Jugge, an English printer, often used the device of "a pelican .n her piety" as frontispiece to his biblical and religious publications, and he passed the device on to other printers (such as Andrew Maunsell, William White, Thomas Dawson, and Alexander Arbuchnet [of Edinburgh]) (fig. 4).(12) In an early fictional biography, The pleasant Historie of Iohn Winchcomb, In his yonguer yeares called Iack of Newbery, Thomas Deloney has the formerly shrewish wife of the titular hero state in conciliatory tones that "the noble nature of a woman is such, that for their louing friends they will not sticke (like the Pellican) to pierce their owne hearts to doe them good."(13)


So much had been made of the pelican emblem that Sir Thomas Browne in Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646) tried "to expose the . . . ornithological inaccuracies" of its use.(14) Browne allows that "we may more safely conceive therein some Emblematical than any real Story: so cloth Eucherius confess it to be the Emblem of Christ. And we are unwilling literally to receive that account of Jerom, that perceiving her young ones destroyed by Serpents, she openeth her side with her bill, by the blood whereof they revive and return unto life again . . . A possibility there may be of opening and bleeding their breast; for this may be done by the uncous and pointed extremity of their bill: and some probability also that they sometimes do it, for their own relief, though not for their young ones; that is by nibling and biting themselves on their itching part of their breast, uponfullness or acrimony of blood" (fig. 5).(15) These examples (many more could be cited) demonstrate how pervasive was-the awareness of the pelican's emblematic power to signify self-sacrifice in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. No wonder then that Marvell chooses to emphasize it in his hovering approach to satire on the apparently self-sacrificing Richard Flecknoe.(16)


The first verse paragraph clearly positions Fleckno as a bore and the narrator ("Oblig'd by frequent visits of this man" [line 1]) as a polite but unenthusiastic caller at his lodging. Nonetheless, emblematic allusions weigh on the side of Fleckno as martyr. His lodging "is at the Sign / Of the sad Pelican" (lines 5-6); his chamber "seem'd a Coffin" (line 10) without the "Seeling . . . Sheet" (line 12); and his "Cell so narrow pent" (line 17) is hardly large enough to entertain anyone. Marvell's pun on the Italian word "stanza," which means "rooms" or "apartment," and Fleckno's prolific poetic stanzas readies us for the wry comparison in Fleckno's attack upon the narrator/visitor:

Straight without further information, In

hideous verse, he, and a dismal tone, Begins

to exercise [exorcise]; as if I were Possest;

and sure the Devil brought me there. (lines 19-22)

Details of the narrator's martyrdom then proliferate: his "last Tryal" (line 24), the playful echo of Milton's "Lycidas" in hoping that his silent endurance will somehow be reported to "future Ages" (line 30),

Only this frail Ambition did remain,

The last distemper of the sober Brain, (lines 27-8)(17)

and, after suffering deafness in one ear, his turning the ether to receive more punishment. The process of self-sacrifice upon the altar of Fleckno's dullness parodically imitates the self-sacrifice of the saints and the emblematic pelican in their martyrdom.

In the emblematic tradition, however, the pelican signifies not only self-sacrifice and martyrdom; it also connotes garrulity and gluttony, as emblems from Alciati show (figs. 6, 7, 8). This second emblematic text is not so familiar as the more pious one, but it was at least as prominent in the early emblematic tradition (fig. 9),(18) and Marvell seems to be aware of it as the poem continues. He depicts Fleckno in such away that garrulity, in the interminable reading of his stanzas, and gluttony, as he breaks Lent in order to dine with the narrator and the sycophantish second guest, become two of Fleckno's notable attributes. The mixed quality of the poem's tone appropriately but enigmatically combines the sacred and the profane values from a familiar and ambivalent emblem.


When Fleckno, now "the Tyrant," leaves off reading his poetry and turns to playing his lute "t' allure" the speaker (lines 35-6), another emblem of spiritual and natural harmony emerges (figs. 10, 11). The lute often is used as an instrument of seduction while it accompanies the would-be seducer's song (fig. 12). Marvell includes this potentiality at the same time that he employs the lute's referential power to signify earthly music's potentiality to achieve a kind of suprahuman harmony with the unseen motions of the elements, a proposition considered quite seriously by many philosophers of the age.


Now as two Instruments, to the same key

Being tun'd by Art, if the one touched be

The other opposite as soon replies, Mov'd

by the Air and hidden Sympathies. (lines 37-40)

The scientific curiosity about the manner in which sound, particularly musical sound, was produced and carried was the subject of many essays in the Renaissance.(19) The relationship between human and cosmic music and their responsive harmony is an area of vast range and interest as well.(20) Marvell's first four lines of the comparison seem to set up the conventional admiration for the power of human music, musica mundana (fig. 13), to create mysterious harmony beyond its control. As is usual in the "mock epic" manner, with which this satire is shaped, the sublime is the ground for the bathetic drop.

So while he with his gouty :Fingers craules Over the

Lute, his murmuring Belly calls, Whose hungry Guts

to the same straightness twin'd In Echo to the

trembling Strings repin'd. (lines 41-4)

Yet even in this gross literalization of the cosmic potentiality suggested by the earlier four lines, Marvell employs technical knowledge of the lute's structure and creates delightful conceptual puns that contain the bathetic impact.(21)

The lute is an ancient instrument, Eastern in origin and adapted by Western culture in Medieval and Renaissance times. One of the great characteristics of lute music is its "contrapuntal" nature, and until the end of the seventeenth century the lute itself had strings entirely of catgut, a tough cord made from the intestines of animals, usually sheep.(22) The strength of the catgut frets, if they were kept in tune, was enough to sink the belly of the frame of the lute within a year or two.(23) Flec-kno's "hungry Guts" are twined to the "same straightness" as a lute is strung with the gut strings of another animal, and thus they respond in kind, seemingly to the same "hidden Sympathies" that caused the two instruments of the preceding lines to reply to each other. Marvell here is playing with a philosophical/ quasi-religious concept in order to create a metaphysical pun--the identification of the man with the musical instrument upon which he plays--an analogy of literal definition that moves the mind beyond the literal terms that define it. The metaphysical identification immediately drops into its gross physical limits as the narrator realizes that Fleckno is hungry--

I, that perceiv'd now what his Musick meet,

Ask'd civilly if he had eat this Lent. (lines 45-6)

The moment,playfully brought to its artistic, poetic, and philosophical climax in a conflation of several complex systems of thought, is fully realized and articulated by the narrator's tongue-in-cheek naivete as he witnesses the extraordinary phenomenon.

This hovering between sacred seriousness and profane "mocking" or imitation characterizes not only this poem but Marvell's entire poetic canon, albeit in different degrees. Precisely this teasing aspect of his "voice" entices the reader to expend tremendous energy in attempting to resolve the balance by weighting it on either side, inevitably without conviction that the "answer" will hold.

The analogies, allusions, and emblematic references that follow the lute-playing episode all suggest that Fleckno's lack of "body" allows a kind of miraculous metamorphosis into other forms, a process that may be intended to parody the examination of miracles in the lives of saints who are being considered for canonization. The hint of "bodilessness" first occurs in the reference to "Melchizedeck" of line three: "[Whom] I for some branch of Melchizedeck took." Melchizedeck, "king of Salem . . . priest of the most high God," met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham tithed to, him (Gen. 14:18-20).(24) In Hebrews 7:3 Melchizedeck is described as "Without father? without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." Because of his apparent lack of physical origins, Melchizedeck was thought to be a type of Christ, or a theophanic pre-incarnation--the bodily appearance of the Lord on earth (Heb. 7:4-17). Fleckno's making up his own body from the papers of his poems (line 58) parodically imitates the appearance of Melchizedeck, "Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life" (Heb. 7:16). Fleckno's priesthood, the narrator wittily speculates, is as mysterious as the origins of the "order of Melchisedec" (Heb. 7:17). The parenthetical recognition of line four "(Though he derives himself from my Lord Brooke)" is only one of many bathetic drops into actual context from allusions to the sacred and sublime.(25)

The metamorphic potentiality of FIeckno's body (or bodilessness) shifts into another image--


He never feeds; save only when he tryes

With gristly Tongue to dart the passing Flyes (lines 48-50)

--which recalls a different emblematic compllex of associations. Doris Adler points out, in her detailed study of the frog/toad as it pertained to the unpopular suit of the Duc d'Alencon for Queen Elizabeth's hand in marriage, that "pestilential irritation or destruction," "the reprehensible dark arts of witchcraft and conjury," and "the devil himself" were represented by this image.(26) According-to Adler, the most trusted sixteenth-century handbook of iconography, Giovanni Valeriano's Hieroglyphica (1550), suggests that the image of the frog can be used to represent nine human states, one of which is "Imperfectus," and another of which is "Poetae" (fig. 14). Particularly interesting for Marvell's evocation of the image is Aristotle's description (in Historia Animalium, book 4, chap. 9) of the frog's incompletely formed tongue as a basis for the belief that the frog could signify the "imperfectly formed man [Imperfectus], one who is in a sense half man, half mire"--a description befitting Fleckno's ambiguous physical nature. The second association relevant to Marvell's treatment of Fleckno derives from the frog's song: "The song of the frogs like the song of the poets--Poetae--may sometimes be meaningless and sometimes arcane, accessible only to those who can understand their secrets."(27) Certainly, the narrator's reactions to Flec-kno's recitals of his poems establish the "meaningless" and "arcane" nature of Fleckno's words. Other more negative associations of the frog/toad image with "Envy" can be seen in Whitney's emblem, lnuidia integritatis assecla [Envy is the attendant of integrity] (fig. 15), which he copied from Hadrian Junius's Emblemata (1565):


[A]t the foote [of the gallant Palme] the frogges, and

septentes crall,

With ercksome noise, and eke with poison fell.(28)

Marvell's fleeting evocation of an unnamed image, signified only by his "gristly Tongue" that darts "the passing Flyes," calls into play various pointed emblematic associations.(29)

After the narrator invites Fleckno to dine, Fleckno dresses himself. At the conclusion of a playful series of parodic allusions to the Incarnation and Eucharist, the narrator observes that

were he not in this black habit deck's,

This half transparent Man would soon reflect

Each colour that he past by; and be seen, As

the Chamelion, yellow, blew, or green. (lines 79-82)

In Alciati the chameleon is associated with flattery (fig. 16), and, in the emblem books of Philip Ayres (Emblemata Amatoria) and Otto Van Veen (Amorum Emblemata, fig. 17), Cupid holds a chameleon cannoting that the lover has no fixed identity but changes according to the will of the beloved.(30) In both sets of associations the chameleon's changeable visible identity is not a laudable asset.(31) In Marvell's poem Fleckno's changeability implies not only that he has no fixed identity of his own and changes with each moment, but also that his lack of a physical body limits as it parodiesthe life of his spirit. The invisible man can take on and put off any number of religious attitudes without accountability.(32)


A further observation in Alciati's emblem is that the chameleon "takes on different colours, except for red and white," and Jehan Lefevre's French translation adds: "The chameleon breathing ceaselessly, living on air, does not have fixed colours. It is now blue, now green, now yellow, but never red or white, hues of great value." In Alciati's emblem "In colores" (#118) he specifies that "a white robe is the sign of a sincere spirit and a pure mind."(33) More specific Christian symbolism associates the colors white and red with the Eucharist.(34) Whether Marvell was consciously alluding to all of these emblematic attributes is uncertain; nonetheless, from an emblematic point of view, Fleckno's putative ability to change colors like the chameleon only to "yellow, blew, or green" implies that Fleckno's spiritual dimension is, like his body, transparent and metamorphic, but not of great value.

Sir Thomas Browne, in challenging the general opinion that the chameleon "liveth only upon air, and is sustained by no other aliment," points to the evidence of "the guts, the stomack, and other parts official unto nutrition; which were its aliment the empty reception of air, their provisions had been superfluous." After a long discussion of the impossibilities of air's being transmuted into a physical nutrient, Browne observes that the chameleon seems to live a long time without taking in any "visible food" and that three characteristics have led opinion to conclude that the chameleon feeds upon air:

[T]he first observed by Theophrastus, was the inflation or swelling of the body, made in this Animal upon inspiration or drawing in its breath; which people observing, have thought it to feed upon air . . . A second is the continual hiation or holding open its mouth, which men observing, conceive the intention thereof to receive the aliment of air; but this is also

occasioned by the greatness of its lungs . . . The third is the

paucity of blood observed in this Animal, scarce at all to be found but in the eye, and about the heart; which defect being observed, inclined some into thoughts, that the air was

a sufficient maintenance for these exanguious parts . . . The last and most common ground which begat or promoted this opinion, is the long continuation hereof without any visible food, which some observing, precipitously conclude they eat not at all. It cannot be denied it is (if not the most of any) a

very abstemious Animal, and such as by reason of its frigidity,

paucity of blood, and latitancy in the winter (about which time

the observations are often made) will long subsist without a visible sustentation.(35)

Browne's insistence that the actual chameleon's alimentary provisions defy commonplace notions of its ability to live on air, analogous to his denial of the real pelican's opening its breast to feed its young, affirms the pervasiveness of entrenched emblematic readings. Marvell's depiction of Fleckno's body as being composed of air likewise draws upon such commonplace associations.

What Marvell seems to be evoking in his series of emblems and their allegorical associations--as well as in his ambivalent implications about martyrdom (is it FIeckno or the narrator who is to be considered like the emblematic pelican who sacrifices itself?)--is a "progress of the soul" in parody, much like what Donne describes in his "Metempsychosis." Barbara Lewalski observes that "the progress of the soul" is a "favorite seventeenthcentury theme," and she further defines "the emergence in seventeenth-century Protestant England of some special uses of this time-honored symbol system [typology]--to examine personal experience and the human condition in relation to certain recognized typological paradigms; to bare the `progress of the soul' of a particular speaker, or contemporary Christian individual, or historical personage; to probe the question of how to write worthy Christian poetry."(36) Although Lewalski's list of special uses summarizes more serious "progress of the soul" poems, it applies equally well to Marvell's poem as a parody of this sub-genre. His poem examines-the narrator's personal experrence m relation to a Fleckno who stands as a parody of Melchizedeck's typological paradigm; it traces the "progress of the soul" of a "contemporary Christian individual [and] historical personage "; anrd it "probe [s I the question of how to write worthy Christian poetry."(37)

Marvell's jesting referenre to Melchizedeck (who, incidentally, appears in Andrew Willet's Sacrorum emblematum centuria una, no. 63, as "a type of Christ"(38)) begins a series of biblical allusions to significant persons, events, symbols, and sacraments. Melchizedeck, the Priest and type of Christ, sets a typological paradigm for Fleckno, whose lodging is at the sign of the pelican (an image associated with Christ's sacrifice). The "three Stair-Cases high, / Which signifies his triple property" (lines 7-8; an echo of Christ's trinal role as Priest, Poet, and Musician)(39) and Fleckno's coffin-like chamber, seven by three feet, play with numerological significances of two of the most sacred numbers, three and seven.(40) The small room's grave-sized space has no bed for entertaining ("none I think do there embrace", therefore no one can complain of Fleckno's "State" [line 151 of celibacy[?]). The door turns in and becomes a "Wainscot" (line 14) for half of the tiny room; the room's lack of space like Fleckno's lack of body is clothed into substance.

The narrator's "last Tryal" and "Martyrdom" for which he prepares may allude to Paul's last trial in Jerusalem by Agrippa before he is sent to Rome (Acts 26), as well as to Christ's Passion and Crucifixion. The narrator's "burning ear" that goes deaf under the assault of Fleckno's verses and his turning the other ear for more punishment is a clear parody of Christ's advice to love one's enemy: "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39). There also may be in the deafened ear an inverted echo of Proverbs 2:2, "incline shine ear unto wisdom, and apply shine heart to understanding." Fleckno, who deafens the ears of his listener, inverts the role of priesthood: "For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding" (Prov. 2:6).

The part-song between the lute and Fleckno's belly leads the narrator to inquire whether the "musician/priest" has eaten "this Lent." Fleckno's reply that he has eaten only in company implies that he never pays for his own meals; thus, he observes the Lenten fasting only insofar as he pays for no food of his own. Furthermore, he would plead sickness to avoid the "Ordinance" against eating meat during Lent even should he be about to say Mass. The narrator loses no time inviting Fleckno to dine, hoping thereby to "make him Protestant, / And Silent."

The lines in which the narrator describes Fleckno's body suggest that Fleckno is literally incarnating himself as he

circumscribes himself in rimes; And

swaddled in's own papers seaven times, Wears a

close Jacket of poetick Buff, With which he cloth his

third Dimension Stuff.

(lines 69-72)

By making his body and swaddling it in papers Fleckno parodies the incarnation and the nativity scene, with a jest at transubstantiation when the narrator describes the Host as having more flesh and blood than Fleckno's body. He is so thin that his body, tall as a camel, can nonetheless thread the eye of a needle, alluding to the biblical passage in which Christ tells his disciples that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:24). Marvell's "Basso Relievo of a Man" (line 63) literalizes the story's analogy, with one reservation: "(His only impossible is to be rich)."(41) He further extends the image of Fleckno's body's threading the needle to sew his self into substance so that his "Soul" will have a place to anchor:

Lest his too suttle Body, growing rare, Should

leave his Soul to wander in the Air.

(lines 67-8)

Clothing then layers Fleckno's "rime"-incarnated form. First he dons a "primitive Sotana," a cassock worn by Roman Catholic priests, and then "an antick Cloak / Worn at the first Counsel of Antioch" (lines 74-6). Both adjectives, "primitive" and "antick" (or "antique"), emphasize that Fleckno's shaping of his priestly exterior reverts to the earliest days of the Church instead of having adjusted to changes. The "first Counsel of Antioch" took place in the third century A.D. The most noted early council of Antioch was a council of bishops that met in 269 A.D. and condemned Paul of Samosata of heresy because he emphasized the humanity of Christ rather than his divine nature.(42) Marvell's lines following the "antick Cloak, / Worn at the first Counsel of Antioch," say that Fleckno is reviving something "by the Jews long hid, and Disesteem'd" with a rationale based on the authority of "Tradition" (lines 77-8).(43) A cloak worn by a bishop at the first council of Antioch would thus signify the party who believed in Christ's divinity from his inception, a metaphysical miracle, rather than the heretical view that Christ was a historical figure who learned his moral nature as he matured. Fleckno, a historical figure, is shaping his own improbable and metamorphic body under the cloak of Roman Catholic non-scriptural tradition, imitating the miraculous nature of Christ without the divinity.

Having dressed, Fleckno is "ready to disfurnish now / His Chamber" (lines 83-4), his and his guest's bodies more than filling the tiny room. With no space in which to change places and thus no way to hesitate ("doubt" [line 85]) and allow Fleckno to precede him down the stairs, the narrator "who came last is forc'd first to go out" (line 86). This line parodically echoes the one in the gospels that concludes the story of the rich young ruler who cannot give up his possessions to follow Christ--the story that contains the analogy of the camel and the needle's eye--"But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first" (Matt. 19:30). Marvell is again playing with biblical allusion, and now the pattern emerges. The remarkable consistency and cumulative effect of all the biblical allusions place Fleckno in the parodic position of God, and subsequently require the narrator to act in the stance of the mediating Christ. So it falls out in the anecdote of the "roaring boy," as Warren Chernaik calls him.(44) The admirer who comes to visit Fleckno is reminiscent of Ben Jonson's Kastril in The Alchemist, who seems to have "heard some speech / Of the angry boys . . . And I would fain be one of 'em."(45) He demands to see Fleckno, but the narrator tells him that he "cannot pass to him but thorow me" (line 90), imitating Christ's statement to his disciples: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). "Affronted" (line 91), the young visitor informs the narrator that he has never been refused at the "Pallace" (line 92) and will not be prevented entering here. Despite the placating response of the narrator, who wishes to leave, the third party tries to draw his sword, but finds the passage too narrow. This prompts the narrator to exclaim, delightedly,

there can no Body pass Except by

penetration hither, where Two make a crowd, nor

can three Persons here Consist but in one


(lines 98-101)

Several punning allusions operate in this passage. The question of whether two bodies could occupy the same space simultaneously was a current philosophical dispute and one that Marvell refers to in "An Horatian Ode upon Cromwel's Return from Ireland"--

Nature that hateth emptiness

Allows of penetration less

(lines 41-2)

--in order to explain the inevitability of CCromwell's replacement of Charles I as ruler of England.(46) In "Fleckno" the lines not only recall the apparent bodilessness of Fleckno but also lead the narrator into further witty parodies of biblical passages and concepts as well as of numerological values. When Christ advises his disciples how to deal with "thy brother [who] shall trespass against thee," he concludes by reassuring them, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:15, 20). In Fleckno's passageway there is so little space that "two make a crowd" and three can exist only by becoming "one substance." While this is an obvious allusion to the concept of the Trinity, announced in 1 John 5:7 ("For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one"), the lines also may be playing with the numerological values of "two" as the number of excess and defect and "three" as the number of reconciliation.(47) The lines imply the impossibility of the Priest, the narrator, and the angry boy's ever becoming "one substance," but even as the lines jest at that notion, they evoke the previous suggestions that Fleckno himself is metamorphic. Fleckno compliments the narrator on his "wit" (line 102) and the narrator in turn invites the angry suitor "to unite" (line 104). Thus, at least in terms of social spirit and behavior, they fulfill the possibility of three becoming one. Marvell's wit simultaneously reduces the metaphorical implications of the allusions to a common-sense recognition that this metaphysical fusion cannot take place while it stretches the literal situation back toward the metaphorical terms that make such a metamorphosis possible.

When they reach the bottom of the stairs,

the propitiatory Priest had straight

Ohlig'd us, when below, to celebrate

Together our attonement: so increas'd

Betwixt tlS two the Dinner to a Feast.

(lines 107-10)

The biblically powerful word "attonement" recalls Christ's ultimate sacrifice as expressed in Paul'-s letter to the Romans: "we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5:11). This echo extends the earlier hints at the narrator's fulfilling the mediating figure of Christ, and, as this Feast of Atonement proceeds, Fleckno returns to the Old Testament God of Wrath while the narrator continues to suffer from the "Tormentor"'s (line 117) poetry reading. Marvell may be parodying the Homeric feast where the bard brea-ks his customary recital of heroic episodes to insert mocking tales of the gods.(48) "More strict" than the Assizes Judges, who after a good meal lessen their sentences on offenders, Fleckno "renew[s]" the narrator's "sentence" by drawing out the "Ten quire of paper in which he was drest" (line 124).(49) As Fleckno's captive audience, the narrator likens his position to that of Nero's audience recorded in Suetonius: while Nero read his poetry no one was allowed to leave the theater for whatever reason, even childbirth.(50) The narrator calls his captivity for Fleckno's reading "a greater cruelty / Then Nero's Poem," yet Fleckno calls it "charity." The martyrdom here is obviously that of the tortured listener even-though the simile,

And so the Pelican at his door hung licks out

the tender bosome ton's young,

implies that Fleckno, by sacrificing his body (of papers), is giving his life as sustenance to the young (lines 125-8). Typically, Marvell's use of the emblematic allusion has it both ways at the same time. Fleckno, literally disembodying himself, is like the emblematic pelican, giving up his life's blood to feed its young; but spiritually the martyrdom is suffered by the narrator as captive listener to this poet's song. No reader would assume that Fleckno, out of selflessness, peeled off all his poems leaving himself "ungirt / Save only two foul copies for his shirt" (lines 129-30), because clearly, from the narrator's perspective, Fleckno's act of reading his verses expresses self-love rather than compassion.

An additional level of playfulness may exist in Marvell's choice of the word "ungirt." Sir Thomas Browne observes in Pseudodoxia Epidemica of the saying, "ungirt unblest": "For by a girdle or cincture are symbolically implied Truth, Resolution, and Readiness unto action, which are parts and vertues required in the service of God . . . So runneth the expression of Peter, Gira up the loins of your minds, be sober and hope to the end: so the high Priest was girt with the girdle of fine linnen: so is it part of the holy habit to have our l[o]ines girt about with truth; and so is it also said concerning our Saviour, Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins."(51) Marvell's image of Fleckno, standing "ungirt" after he peels off the pages of his poems, while inverting the value of one conventional association (the pelican's self-sacrifice), may be drawing upon this image of the high priest. Fleckno in the dispersing of his poems loses his girdle of "Truth." At the same time, Marvell inverts this association as well. The poems are not truth with which Fleckno is girt, nor is he giving away truth when he takes them from his bosom. Nonetheless, in a very direct application, Fleckno stands, "ungirt unblest."

The metamorphosis of Fleckno subsequently takes a more repugnant turn as the other guest worshipfully gathers the papers that Fleckno peels "from within / Like white fleaks rising from a Leaper's skin!" (lines 133-4). The narrator loathes the action and compares the papers, which the youth then kisses in reverence, to the "odious" rags the French youth show at inns after dinner as they compare their sores from vener-eal diseases As Chernaik points out, it is not the narrator's negative words that carry the satiric weight so much as the "visual evocation of the scene, the imaginative creation of a disordered-universe where poems are worn as clothing and diseases displayed as badges of honour."(52) This momentary glimpse of a visually repugnant scene suggests the serious critical underpinnings of Marvell's satiric attack on poetry not fit to be read, but he shifts rapidly to the comic undoing of the ignorant young man as he reads Fleckno's verse ineptly, making bad verses worse.

And how (impossible) he made yet more

Absurdityes in them then were before.

For he his untun'd voice did fall or raise

As a deaf Man upon a Viol playes,

Making the half points and the periods run

Confus'der then the atomes in the Sun.(53)

(lines 145-50)

Recalling the parody of musical harmony between Fleckno's empty belly and the lute strings, this simile reminds us that not only is Fleckno's poetry "ill made" but also that the one who admires it is both ignorant of the words' meanings and deaf to the verses' musical patterns, such as they are.

Fleckno's reaction to the poor reading of his verses is mighty, as befits the subject of this mock heroic poem:

Thereat the Poet swell'd, with anger full,

And roar'd out, like Perillus in's own Bull;

Sir you read false.

(lines 151-3)

This classical allusion to the ironic fate of the inventive artisan caught in his own torturous device engages the poem's allusive fabric in a pre-Christian context suitable after the careful deconstruction of Fleckno's Roman Catholic dogma, poetical ambition, and musical pretension. The legendary allusion also reiterates the inadvertent metamorphosis, so frequently invoked earlier in the poem, of human into beast.

Lucian's account of "Perilaus, a good metal-worker but a bad man," contains some musical details that continue the earlier references to Fleckno's perversion of musical harmony. Phalaris, the tyrant, speaks:

So he made the bull and came to me with it, a very beautiful thing to look at and a very close copy of nature; motion and voice were all it needed to make it seem actually alive. At the sight of it I cried out at once: "The thing is good enough for Apollo; we must send the bull to the god!" But Perilaus at my elbow said: "What if you knew the trick of it and the purpose it serves?" With that he opened the bull's back and said: "If you

wish to punish anyone, make him get into this contrivance and lock him up; then attach these flutes to the nose of the bull and

have a fire lighted underneath. The man will groan and shriek in the grip of unremitting pain, and his voice will make you the

sweetest possible music on the flutes, piping dolefully and lowing piteously; so that while he is punished you are

entertained by having flutes played to you." When I heard this I was

disgusted with the wicked ingenuity of the fellow and hated the

idea of the contrivance, so I gave him a punishment that fitted

his crime. "Come now, Perilaus," said I, "if this is not mere empty boasting, show us the real nature of the invention by getting into it yourself and imitating people crying out, so that

we may know whether the music you speak of is really made on the flutes." Perilaus complied, and when he was inside, I locked him up and had fire kindled underneath, saying: "Take the reward you deserve for your wonderful invention, and as you are our music-master, play the first tune yourself!"(54)

Lucian's account, which is a satiric "defense" of Phalaris, elaborates upon the musical intent and result of Perillus's torture, a point that other glosses of the line ignore. While it is true that Marvell uses the allusion primarily to jest at the would-be torturer's being tortured by having to hear his own verse read badly, the additional level of musical perversion also could have engaged his wit.

The story of Perillus, the inventor, caught in his own device of torture, the bull, in order to please a tyrant, is "historical," but it takes on the characteristics of myth by the time it reaches the seventeenth century and is used emblematically, as the Overburian Character, "A Distaster of the Time," illustrates.(55) Leonard Barkan says in his study of metamorphosis: "[I]n the image of magical transformation there is always the mystery of the divine embedded in the real, the natural, the quotidian . . . To believe in the lore of Arachne and Europa [a different bull in reference] . . . is to believe . . . in an antiheroic upside-down world of flux characterized by a reaction against the masculine-dominated world of stability. It is to believe in an aesthetic that is personal, nonlinear, and fluid."(56) Barkan directs his comments toward mythology, yet they are strikingly appropriate to Marvell's use of the Perillus allusion as well as to his earlier inversions of emblematic and biblical values. Marvell creates an "upside-down world of flux," especially in Fleckno's shifting forms, but this world is the presumed "masculine-dominated world of stability" of the Roman Catholic church. The attack appears in Marvell's insistence upon mocking the divine spark in the myth or legend with a literal presentation of the physical substance (or lack thereof) that limits Fleckno's capacity to embed the divine in the real.

The angry youth responds to Fleckno's reprimand, "Sir you read false," with a grudging defense: "That any one but you / Should know the contrary" (lines 153-4). The narrator finds himself in the role of "Mediator," this time defending Fleckno's judgment: "To say that you read false Sir is no Lye" (line 156). Apparently convinced by this combined censure, the "waxen Youth relented straight" (line 157), but not soon enough to delay Fleckno's angry retreat to his home, "his most furious Satyr to have fir'd / Against the Rebel" (lines 160-1). Seeming to have adopted the Roman practice of posting lampoons, or pasquils, in public places, Fleckno removes himself from the company in order to compose a satire against the young man who read his verses so badly.(57) The young man initially is crushed because now he will have no one to write verses commending him to his mistress or to the world. The narrator wryly remarks that such encomia would be "both difficult indeed to do / With truth" and then counsels him to "go in time, / Ere the fierce Poets anger turn'd to rime" (lines 164-6). The young man sees the wisdom in this advice and departs hastily, leaving the narrator alone:

He hasted; and I, finding my self free,

As one scap't strangely from Captivity,

Have made the Chance be painted; and go now

To hang it in Saint Peter's for a Vow.

(lines 167-70)

In terms of narrative, the poem's ending may seem anticlimactic; however, in terms of the allusive pattern established throughout, the narrator's last act is parodically appropriate.(58) His miraculous release from "Capitivity," like the Apostle Peter's release from Iris chains (Acts 12:7), is of such magnitude that he has had it painted as a votive offering and goes to hang it in Saint Peter's cathedral in imitation of the Saint's own miraculous release.(59) Elsie Duncan-Jones comments on this "transposition into another art": "the events of Fleckno are to be made into an ex-voto painting, that primitive form of art, to be hung as a thank-offering in St. Peter's; a culmination both of the urbanities of the poem, to do in Rome as Rome does and of the undercurrent of mockery of the papistical (and, indeed, of the theological and scriptural) that runs through much of the poem."(60) The narrator, in an act that probably is self-mocking, realizes his "frail Ambition . . . to assure / The future Ages how I did indure" (lines 27-30) in this painting that will hang for others to see in St. Peter's (along with, perhaps, this poem). As in other mockepic schemes, the votive painting seems a very small fulfillment of a large ambition--to secure fame in future ages. It is precisely this technique that Marvell employs throughout the poem: he embeds allusions to larger contexts in the physical detail of this ordinary visit to an actual person. The allusive contexts are capable of evoking awe, but their application to the personal situation evokes laughter.

In a discussion of several other Marvell poems, Frank J. Warnke says: "At the heart of Marvell's achievement we find always the sportive elements of game, contest, and make-believe--the constituents of a play attitude which enables the poet to turn metaphor into metamorphosis."(61) In "Fleckno" Marvell shows us his playful turning of metaphor into metamorphosis with his interpenetrating allusions to emblematic attributes, biblical stories, and literary genres that create the figure of its central "Tyrant." Fleckno himself metamorphoses into metaphor as the narrator unremittingly exposes the flaws in this would-be leader of poets, musicians, and the spiritually aware; yet, at the end of the poem, Fleckno is still a powerful character. Unlike Dryden's Flecknoe, whose final act is a comic descent into a stage trap-door, Marvell's Fleckno remains a man of threatening power, unchanged from his experience except by anger.(62) The narrator's progress through this trial of courtesy results in his votive gift, presenting at least an exterior change from the physical to the spiritual level of action. His encounter with Fleckno's metamorphic nature and surroundings thus creates a parody of the "progress of the soul" narrative, through saintlike martyrdom, to miraculous release from captivity and observance of thanks to the benevolent power that allowed his survival.

Marvell devastates Fleckno for the reader, but we do not emerge from the poem without recognizing that Fleckno creates a field of energy even as he remains epically unmoved by others' responses. The reader also goes on a progress as we view the narrator, a young "dandy" on his "tour" of the continent, visiting a fellow countryman out of begrudged courtesy and perhaps discovering something more profound. His progress may be through the looking-glass into his own superficialities. Marvell asks the reader, as the satirist usually does, to go with the narrator and to experience the various dislocations of moral, emblematic, and religious commonplaces in order to examine our own easy judgments.


(1) Andrew Marvell, "Fleckno, an English Priest at Rome," in The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell, ed. H. M. Margoliouth, 3d edn., rev. Pierre Legouis and E. E. Duncan-Jones, vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 87-91. Further references to Poems will appear parenthetically in the text by line number and in the notes by page number.

(2) In the same way that a "mock-epic" does not ridicule the epic, the parodic imitation of a genre does not necessarily imply negative criticism of the genre; nonetheless, the imitation requires comparison of the original at its serious level and of the imitation at its "mocking" level. For Jacobean examples of the term "mock" as imitation not necessarily reductive, see Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, V.iii.68, and Pericles,V.i.143, 164 (William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, gen. ed. Alfred Harbage [Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1969]).

(3) Wyman H. Herendeen, "`I launch at paradise, and I sail towards home': The Progresse of the Soule as Palinode" (paper delivered at the Sixth John Donne Conference, Gulfport MS, February 1991).

(4) C. A. Patrides, ed., quoting Marvell in The Complete English Poems of John Donne (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1985), p. 402. See Andrew Marvell, "The Rehearsal Transpros'd" and "The Rehearsal Transpros'd: The Second Part," ed. D. I. B. Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 175-7.

(5) Although Marvell may have written "Fleckno, an English Priest at Rome" between 1645-7, sometime after his actual visit to Richard Flecknoe in Rome, it was not published until the Folio edition of 1681. This publication date immediately precedes that of Dryden's "MacFlecknoe" and may have freshened Dryden's interest in the subject. H. T. Swedenberg Jr. argues that Dryden probably completed his poem by 1678 (The Works of John Dryden, vol. 2 [Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: Univ. of California Press, 1972], pp. 299-300).

(6) Legouis comments, "Marvell knew better than to call the priest- poet an Irishman, as biographers and critics of Dryden, misinterpreting the title MacFlecknoe, go on doing" (Poems, p. 293 n. 4).

(7) See Peter M. Daly, Literature in the Light of the Emblem: Structural Parallels between the Emblem and Literature in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1979), p. 15. See also his comments on the pelican on pp. 98 and 152. On the latter page he quotes Deiter Mehl, "Emblems in English Renaissance Drama," p. 48: "One of the many `living emblems' in the dumb-shows before the final act [Thomas Hughes's The Misfortunes of Arthur] features a pelican pecking open its own breast; the motto reads `Qua foui perii,' and the stage-direction informs the reader that it signifies `Arthurs too much indulgencie of Modred, the cause of his death.'"

(8) Whitney's "Choice of Emblemes," ed. Henry Green, facsimile rprt. (London; Lovell Reeve and Co., 1866), p.87. In an unpublished essay, Lawrence J. Ross notes that in addition to the application of the pelican's self-sacrifice to Christ, secularized applicaticns developed, most particularly to kings ("The King's Clothes: Clothing end Nakedness in King Lear"). Ross points out also that in King Lear we find that the image of the life-rendering pelican has been turned around to describe children who have regally worn the life-blood of their parent with unnatural ingratitude: "'twas this flesh begot / Those pelican daughters" (III.iv.72-3).

(9) George Wither, A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne (1635), introd. and comm. Rosemary Freeman and Charles S. Hensley (London: Henry Taunton; rprt. Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1975), p. ix, n.7.

(10) Cited in George Wither, p. viii. Arthur Henkel and Albrecht Schone cite three pelican emblems with this motto (Emblemata [Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1967], colt 811-2).

(11) Ross emphasizes this portrait in his discussion of the pelican figure in King Lear. Elizabeth was fond of emblematic jewelry and ornamentation on her garments in her portraits; for examples, see Roy C. Strong, Portraits of Elizabeth I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, ]963), and The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry (London: Thames and Hudson, 1977).

(12) Ronald B. McKerrow, Printers' and Publishers' Devices in England and Scotland 1485-1640 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1949), devices #123, #125, #137, #165, #181, #225, #228. Elarry Morris reproduces a pelican misericord found in SS Peter and Paul, Lavenham, Suffolk (Last Things in Shakespeare [Tallahassee: Florida State Univ. Press, 1985], p. 149).

(13) Thomas Deloney, The pleasant Historie of John Winchcomb, In his yonguer yeares called lack of Newbery (1626), in The Works of Thomas Deloney, ed. Francis Oscar Mann (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), pp. 1-68, 19. Victor E. Graham points out a number of other literary allusions to the pelican, including commentaries on Psalm 101:7, Dante's Paradiso, Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear, and works by John Lyly, Robert Greene, and Thomas Nashe ("The Pelican as Image and Symbol," Revue de Litterature Comparee 36, 2 [April-June 1962]: 235-43).

(14) The phrase is that of R. I. V. Hodge, in Foreshortened Time: Andrew Marvell and Seventeenth-Century Revolutions (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1978), p. 41.

(15) The Works of Sir Thomas Browne., ed. Charles Sayle, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: John Grant, 1927), 2:203-4.

(16) See also Poems, p. 293 nn. 6-7: "In a satire that mocks at transubstantiation Marvell may have in mind Saint Thomas Aquinas's Oratio in praesentia Corporis Christi: `Pie pelicane, Jesu Domine'" (Duncan-Jones).

(17) The line from "Lycidas" reads "[Fame is] (That last infirmity of Noble mind)" (line 71). In "Flecknoe's Cabinet and Marvell's Cankered Muse" (Essays in Criticism 40, 1 [January 1990]: 54-66), Christopher Martin sees "the complexity of the voice" (p. 56) of Marvell's narrator as insensitive and says that the narrator's "materialist's sensibility" (p. 60) is only one of many negatives that align him with Fleckno. In Martin's view, "a smug exhibitionism flavours" this echo of Milton's line (p. 61). My reading sees the narrator (and Marvell's manipulation of him) as more playful.

(18) Sir Thomas Browne discusses the Pelican's "chowle or crop adhering unto the lower side of the bill, and so descending by the throat: a bag or sachel very observable, and of a capacity almost beyond credit; which notwithstanding, this animal could not want; for therein it receiveth Oysters, Cochels, Scollops, and other testaceous animals; which being not able to break, it retains them until they open, and vomiting them up, takes out the meat contained. This is that part preserved for a rarity and wherein (as Sanctius delivers) in one dissected, a Negro child was found" (Works, 2:204). Perhaps too there is a connection between the gluttony of the pelican, thus described by Browne, and the later lines of Marvell's poem, which contrast Fleckno's pulling off his poems to read with the lenient sentences of the full-stomached Assizes Judges:

Yet he more strict my sentence cloth renew;

And draws out of the black box of his Breast

Ten quire of paper in which he was drest.

(lines 122-4)

The connection of the "black box" with the pelican's "chowle or crop" is persuasive because of the imminent reintroduction of the pelican emblem.

(19) In Theatre of the World, Frances A. Yates discusses the influence of Vitruvius on the work of John Dee and Robert Fludd regarding acoustics in theater architecture, as one particular instance (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1969).

(20) For some emblematic representations, see Whitney, "Industria naturam corrigit," p. 92; and Henry Peacham, Minerva Britanna (London, 1612; rprt. Amsterdam and New York: Da Capo Press and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1971), "Hibernica Respub: ad Iacobum Regem," p. 45. Particularly lucid accounts of such philosophical interests appear in Gretchen Ludke Finney, Musical Backgrounds for English Literature: 1580-1650 (New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1961); Lawrence J. Ross, "Shakespeare's `Dull Clown' and Symbolic Music," SQ 17, 2 (Spring 1966): 107-28; and S. K. Heninger Jr., Touches of Sweet Harmony: Pythagorean Cosmology and Renaissance Poetics (San Marino CA: Huntington Library, 1974).

(20) Edward J. Rielly says that Marvell illustrates in this early poem a deleveloping "skill and ingenuity with language which could transform even a pun into an ingeniously conceived metaphorical expression" ("Marvell's `Fleckno,' Anti-Catholicism, and the Pun as Metaphor," JDJ 2, 2 [1983]: 51-62, 51). Although Rielly does not consider the lute-string puns, his comment that Marvell "works not so much with a word as through it, and then through the line" (p. 59) is pertinent to my consideration of this passage.

(22) See The Oxford Companion to Music, 10th edn., s.v. "lute"; and Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 3d edn., s.v. "lute."

(23) Grove's Dictionary quotes Mattheson as saying, "a lutenist of eighty years old had certainly sperrt sixty in tuning his instrument, and that the cost in Paris of keeping a horse or alute was about the same" (pp. 253-4).

(24) All biblical quotations are from the authorized King James Version (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1938).

(25) The reference to "my Lord Brooke" has been glossed variously: (1) Margoliouth: "The nature, real or imaginary, of Flecknoe's connexion with Lord Brooke is unknown. He dedicated to Lady Nevill Brooke in 1640 The affections of a Pious Soule, unto our Saviour-Christ" (The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell, 2d edn. [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952], 1:235); (2) George deF. Lord, Andrew Marvell: Complete Poetry (New York: Modern Library, 1968) follows this in his note, p. 207; (3) Duncan-Jones and Legouis add in Poems, p. 293: "'Fleckno' is the name of a Warwickshire village near Lord Brooke's estates (Duncan-Jones). Fulke Greville,lord Brooke died unmarried in 1628, not too early to have begotten Flecknoe, born at Oxford; and he had been born early enough to have begotten one of Flecknoe's parents." (4) Elizabeth Story Donno says: "Fulke Greville, first Lord Brooke, `servant to Queen Elizabeth, councillor to James, andiriend to Sir Philip Sidney,' diea in 1628. Following the posthumous publication of Greville's Remains in 1670, Flecknoe was to include commendatory verses (On the Works of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke) in the 1671 edition of his Epigrams (pp. 10-11), and in 1675 he was to couple him with Sidney among `tile prime wits and gallants' of the times (A Treatise of the Sports of Wit, p. [8.sup.v])" (Anderw Marvell: The Complete Poems [New York: Penguin Books, 1983], p. 224 n. 4). (5) Frank Kermode and Keith Walker, Andrew Marvell (Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990) follow Donno's suggestion (p. 309). These references suggest that Flecknoe admired Fulke Greville, but the dates of publication are late fi'r Marvell's supposed composition of his poem.

None of these editors has mentioned the existence of the second Lord Brooke (1628-43), Robert Greville, who inherited the title and Warwick castle from his cousin Fulke Greville, who died unmarried in lfi28 and without children. Milton praises the second Lord Brooke, a dedicated republican, in Areopagitica; see John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (New York: Odyssey Press, 1957), p. 746. Marvell may have been continuing the allusion to Melchizedeck's miraculous origins in the recognition that Fulke Greville had no children and therefore for Flecknoe to be "derive[d]" from him is a secular parody of miraculous origins. The notion of metempsychosis (in parody) may also lurk behind the allusion.

Another level of satiric innuendo may exist in Marvell's awareness of Robert Greville as the second Lord Brooke. Greville was a Puritan and a republican whereas Marvell at this time was an Anglican and a royalist, and Flecknoe was a royalist but also a Catholic. John T. Shawcross suggests to me that Marvell may thus be lampooning Greville's rationalization in The Nature of Truth (1640) that the all-embracing reality of God and the harmony deriving from him (seen, for example, in the music of the spheres) resolve the great dilemma of the world's disunity and multiplicity of the soul and knowledge. Flecknoe, though a Catholic, espouses the same kind of idea, and it is so out of favor that he is like a martyr for holding such a belief in Rome.

(26) Doris Adler, "Imaginary Toads in Real Gardens," ELR 11, 3 (Autumn 1981): 235-60, 238. The terms "frog" and "toad" were interchangeable during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

(27) Adler, pp. 239-40.

(28) Whitney. p. 118.

(29) Adler notes as well the associations of the frog/toad with the anti-Christ and in anti-papal tracts: "Frogs and toads became every loathed threat of the papists . . . [Bernard] Carter's choice of the Catholic, toad-poisoning cause of the death of King John is in the best, vehement Protestant tradition." Given the choice of "various causes listed by Holinshed" for King John's death, Garter chose "the account used by those two archetypal anti-papists, John Bale and John Foxe" (pp. 248-9).

(30) Mario Praz observes that "the comparison of a flatterer to a chameleon goes back to Plutarch" and that "Alciati's emblem 53 derived from Plutarch" (Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery, 2d edn. [Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1964], p. 211). Ayres and Van Veen are listed in Huston Diehl, An Index of Icons in English Emblem Books 1500-1700 (Norman and London: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1986), p. 48.

(31) Cedric Watts cites the "Fleckno" reference to prove that Marvell was find of the image and that Marvell's transforming imagination, which imitates the chameleon's transformations, is "protective and salutary." Watts adopts the chameleon reference for his own argument without examining its pejorative power in Marvell's poem ("Andrew Marvell and the Chameleon," CritQ 25, 4 [Winter 1983]: 23-33, 24).

(32) The inability to maintain a single identity had long been considered a weakness, according to Stoic thinking. See The Workes of Lvcivs Annarvs Seneca, newly inlarged and corrected by Thomas Lodge (London: William Stansby, 1620), epistle 120, pp. 480-1: "Repute thou it to be a great vertue for a man to be one. But no man but a wise man cloth one thing, all the rest of vs haue many shapes."

(33) Translations are from Andreas Alciatus, ed. Peter M. Daly (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1985), I, emblem #53; II, emblem #53; I, emblem #118.

(34) See George Walton Williams, Image and Symbol in the Sacred Poetry of Richard Crashaw (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1963), p. 42: "It is only the whiteness of the broken body and the redness of the Redeemer's blood in the Eucharist which together can wash the scarlet sins of man and make him white as snow (Psalm 51.7)."

(35) Browne, Works, 2:50, 59-60.

(36) Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, "Typological Symbolism and the `Progress of the Soul' in Seventeenth-Century Literature," in Literary Uses of Typology from the Late Middle Ages to the Present, ed. Earl Miner (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1977), pp. 79-114, 79, 113-4.

(37) Warren L. Chernaik comments that "Fleckno is satirized in each of his functions, `Priest, Poet, and Musician,'" and that "in poetry and religion, Fleckno is presented as serving a false ideal" (The Poet's Time: Politics and Religion in the Work of Andrew Marvell [Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983], pp. 172-3)

(38) Diehl, p. 146.

(39) Marvell seems to be playing with the three offices of the Son as "Priest, Poet, and Musician." Fleckno offers a parody of the three types (or mediatorial offices) of Christ: Melchizedeck as Priest, Moses as Prophet/Poet (of the Pentateuch), and David asking and Musician.

(40) See Isabel Rivers, Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry (London and Boston: G. Allen and Unwin, 1979), chap. 13, for a summary of the Pythagorean, biblical, and temporal systems of numerology. For a more detailed examination of the relationship of the Pythagorean theory of numbers to arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy, see Heninger, pp. 71-145.

(41) See John Dixon Hunt, Andrew Marvell: His Life and Writings (Ithaca NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1978), p. 52, far a reproduction af Martin van Heemskerck's drawing of the Casa Galli sculpture garden in Rome (1630s) that shows a typical bas-relief on the wall.

(42) See The New Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Antioch" and "Christian Councils"; The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, s.v. "Antioch"; and The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, s.v. "Antiochene Theology." George deF. Lord and Frank Kermode gloss "the first cQunsel of Antioch" simply as having occurred in 264 A.D. Antiochene theology that developed later in the schools of the city countered the Alexandrian leaning toward allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures with a more scientific method.

(43) Kermode comments: "The authority of unwritten tradition, held by RQman Catholics to be equal to that of the Scriptures, was an important difference between Catholic and Protestant; it underlies this joke" (p. 310, n. 78).

(44) Chernaik (p. 167) is no doubt referring to Sir Thomas Overbury's "Character," "A Roaring Boy." See The Miscellaneous Works in Prose and Verse of Sir Thomas Overbury, Knt., ed. Edward F. Rimbault (London: Reeves and Turner, 1890), pp. 121-2.

(45) Ben Jonson, The Alchemist, ed. Douglas Brown, The New Mermaids (London: A and C Black, 1988), III.iv.21-4.

(46) See Donno, p. 225 nn. 98-101.

(47) See Rivers, p. 179.

(48) See George deF. Lord, Heroic Mockery: Variations on Epic Themes from Homer to Joyce (Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1977), pp. 20-1.

(49) Provided by the Magna Carta, assizes were "sessions held periodically in each county of England, for the purpose of administering civil and criminal justice, by judges acting under certain special commissions" (QED, "assize," def: 12).

(50) Donno quotes a translation of Suetonius, The History of the Twelve Caesars, 1672, ascribed to Marvell (p. 225 n. 126).

(51) Browne, Works, 2:269.

(52) Chernaik, p. 167.

(53) In at least two other instanees Marvell uses the "run/Sun" rhyme--one in the last couplet of "To His Coy Mistress" (lines 45-6) and the other, more like "Fleckno" in its meter, concludes "On a Drop of Dew": the Manna

Congeal'd on Earth: but does, dissolving, run

Into the Glories of th' almighty Sun.

(lines 39-40)

The echo of the latter suggests the ease of Marvell's shifting from the parodic mode to the sacred even within ttre same conceit of running in (to) the Sun.

(54) Lucian, trans. A. M. Harmon (London: William Heinemann, 1927), 1:17-9.

(55) Sir Thomas Overbury's Character "A Distaster of the Time" also alludes to the creator of "Phalaris Bull, [who] makes that a torment, first for himselfe, he prepared for others." Parts of this Character fit Fleckno well: "this sicknesse rises rather of selfe-opinion, or over-great expectation; so in the conceit of his own over-worthinesse, like a coistrell, he strives to fill himselfe with wind, and flies against it" (p. 127).

(56) Leonard Barkan, The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism (New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1986), p. 18.

(57) Steve W. May pointed out this association between Fleckno's "furious Satyr" and the "pasquil," for which the OED uses the following illustration under def. 2: "1542 St. Papers Hen. VIII, IX.12 Here hathe been also after the maner of Rome, a pasqual set up upon Sainct Marques day laste, tantynge thEmperour." Duncan-Jones comments on the "Romanness" of the poem in "Marvell: A Great Master of Words," Warton Lecture on English Poetry, Proceedings of the British Academy 61 (1975): 267-90, 276, 284.

(58) Compare the endings of John Donnet's Satire 1 and of Horace's Satire 1:9.

(59) "And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter an the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chaim fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision" (Acts 12:7-9).

(60) Duncan-Jones, "Master of Words," p. 284.

(61) Frank J. Warnke, "Play and Metamorphosis in Marvell's Poetry," SEL 5,1 (Winter 1965): 23-30, 30.

(62) Michael Wilding argues that Dryden's Flecknoe parodies Satan in Paradise Lost rather than God ("Allusion and Innuendo in MacFlecknoe," EIC 19, 4 [October 19691: 355-70, 360-2).

Joan Hartwig, professor of English at the University of Kentucky, is author of Shakespeare's Tragicomic Vision (1972), Shakespeare's Analogical Scene: Parody as Structural Syntax (1983), and several essays on Shakespeare, Donne, and Marvell. Her current work is on the significance of the horse in English Renaissance literature.