The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, April 1999 v98 i2 p193

The Slain Deer and Political Imperium: As You Like It and Andrew Marvell's "Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn". Fitter, Chris.

Abstract: William Shakespeare and Andrew Marvell demonstrated sympathy for cruel treatment toward animals in their work. Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' and Marvell's poem "Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn" protested the noble privilege of deer hunting. Shakespeare had to carefully construct his lament to pass the censor while remaining political protest, and Marvell showed his opposition to the new Stuart hunting legislation.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1999 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Levi-Strauss argued long ago in his celebrated Savage Mind that, for humanity, animals constitute bons a penser: that by preliterate mind and modern alike they are apprehended primarily not in terms of whether they are good to eat but as "food for thought." Human classification of animal types and of the structural relations between them, that is to say, functions as a symbolic field of cultural self-definition and self-meditation. In the English Renaissance, so strong a sense of affinity prevailed that animals might sometimes be put on trial. As Keith Thomas points out in his fascinating study Man and the Natural World, English settlers in Massachusetts executed dogs involved in cases of bestiality; dogs caught "poaching" were hanged; Elizabethan sailors took revenge for injuries received from sharks by catching and torturing shoals of fish.(1) Animals whose lives interweave closely with human ones at the physical level may even become, in Levi-Strauss's phrase, "metonymic humans";(2) and thus select animals in Renaissance England received human names.(3) Curiously, however, while dogs and cats were given only semi-human names, and the case varied with horses, creatures cast in roles of heroic dominion such as falcons, and bears featured in baiting, were given fully human ones. Given, then, humanity's deep-seated drive toward mapping human relations onto the animal kingdom, it is scarcely surprising to find that in late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, as widespread reaction grew against an increasingly absolutist monarchy and its doctrine of unmitigated sovereignty by "divine right," anti-authoritarian sentiment emerged also in contemplation of human relations with animals. A new sensitivity toward "tyrannical" dominion over "inferior creatures" was articulated above all in relation to the traditional "royal" pastime: hunting.

At length for glutton taste he did them kill: At last for sport their sillie lives did spill. But yet o man, rage not beyonde thy neede: Deeme it no gloire to swell in tyrannie. Thou art of blood;joy not to make things bleede: Thou fearest death; thinke they are loth to die. A plaint of guiltlesse hurt doth pierce the skie.(4)

Upon the pathos of abused animal innocence there came to settle political connotation; and we shall see that both Shakespeare's treatment of the "gored native burghers" of Arden in As You Like It and Andrew Marvell's "Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn," by addressing the victims of hunting, the traditional aristocratic addiction par excellence, summon critique of political imperium. Fastidious lyric feeling for violated animal innocence contradicted, however, that suppressed and restless urge to enjoy the hunt oneself, which had for centuries been the commoner's perspective on this seigneurial monopoly, and which had long issued in the running class warfare of deer poaching. Both perspectives in this deepening Renaissance ambivalence toward deer slaying were thus political. In the domain of hunting, both antipathy and popular engagement, both pathos and poaching, afforded a coded language of political protest, since both perspectives challenged the structure of power by which an elite reserved right of huntsman slaughter. As You Like It, we shall see, dramatizes both perspectives--elegiac tones of protest, along with exultation in outlaw hunting--perceiving the tactical potential of each for smuggling oppositional allusion and feeling past the Elizabethan censor. As an exclusive seigneurial ritual, the pursuit and slaying of deer by lords may easily become, in the imagery of commoners, a language of oblique commentary on the use and abuse of power; and Jaques's lengthy lament on the dying deer in As You Like It generates allusion, we shall suggest, to the recent violence of the authorities against satire and satirists, and even perhaps evokes the fate of Thomas Nashe. Marvell's densely evocative narrative of stricken fawn and gratuitous kill draws on many sources, but derives its key symbolic structure from the sharpened meanings and escalating backlash produced by aggressive new hunting legislation imposed by the Stuarts. It creates from such symbolicity a major political poem, one which, wreathing ironies around regicide as its primary symbolic ground, emerges in many respects companion to the Horatian Ode.

If we would read literary treatments of the slain deer theme as contemporaries did, we must therefore regain sensitivity to the political significations of the chase. This article will thus open with a brief survey of Renaissance hunting culture, and the novelty of compassionate aversion.

The emergence of verse on the pathos of the beasts is a striking development, given the "breathtakingly anthropocentric spirit" (as Thomas rightly calls it)(5) of medieval attitudes to the natural world. Christianity, indeed, has been described as "the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen," though debate on the claim still rages.(6) For most people in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, moral consideration was simply inapplicable to beasts. In the seventeenth century, as Thomas relates, country gentlemen would entertain guests by throwing chickens into pike-infested ponds to enjoy their shrieking struggles; or might tie a dog to a bush and hack it to pieces to demonstrate the quality of their swords. Country fairs set up contests in biting off the heads of live chickens and sparrows.(7) Into the eighteenth century, Matt Cartmill has noted, commoners amused themselves in "riding for geese" (seeking at a gallop to pull the head off a greased goose dangling from a tree), or in hanging up cats in bags to smash their convulsing bodies with clubs. At court, aristocrats formed rings to toss small animals to and fro in nets until they died of shock, concussion, or accumulated fractures. (At one festival in the court of Dresden in 1747, 414 foxes, 281 hares, 32 badgers and 6 wild cats were thus tormented to pleasure ladies and gentlemen who liked to call themselves "noble.")(8)

Stuart England, by contrast, saw the development of vegetarianism, particularly among religious reformers. Some people, not all of them Puritans and Levellers, even claimed that animals would enjoy, like humans, an immortal afterlife.(9) We shall find this belief clutched desperately by Marvell's Complaining Nymph. There are records of tender-heartedness toward animal suffering expressed in the Renaissance not only by men of moral genius like Montaigne ("If I see but a chicken's neck pulled off or a pig sticked, I cannot chose but grieve; and I cannot well endure a silly dew-bedabbled hare to groan when she is seized upon by the hounds") and Shakespeare, but also by common people putting creatures out of their misery or sympathizing with animals kept in Elizabethan battery-farm conditions. ("They feed in pain, lie in pain and sleep in pain" wrote one commentator.)(10) But condemnation of animal cruelty and sympathy for dying beasts was expressed most frequently and most poetically in Renaissance literature in reference not to slaughtered cattle or maltreated dogs but to "the sobbing deer," a Renaissance topos in which revulsion from abusive power acquired inevitable political overtone.(11)

"He cannot be a gentleman which loveth not hawking and hunting" ran the Tudor proverb. Hunting, according to Gervase Markham, was "compounded ... of all the best parts of most refined pleasure."(12) Typifying an absolute unconcern for the animals' feeling, The Gentleman's Recreation (1674) recommended cutting off one foot of a captured hart, then releasing it to be pursued afresh by bloodhounds; and even so reflective a monarch as Queen Elizabeth took pleasure in animal-baiting and the hunt. At Cowdray in 1591, when she was too old for the chase, a herd of deer was driven for her into an enclosure, so that she was able to amuse herself by picking them off at leisure with a crossbow, to the accompaniment of musicians. James I, who was accused of loving his dogs more than his subjects, was so obsessive a hunter that he would have his weak legs tied to his mount, and formed the habit of urinating in the saddle rather than dismounting. He delighted in personally slashing the throat of captured deer, plunging his hands into their entrails, and daubing with the blood the faces of his courtiers. (They were not allowed to wash this off.)(13) "I have passed much time in seeing the royal sports of hunting and hawking," remarked Sir John Harington of James's court, "where the manners were such as made me devise the beasts were pursuing the sober creation, and not man in pursuit of exercise or food."(14)

Yet the association of the hunt with aristocratic prerogative and militarism was ancient and ran deep. One third of England had become forest land set aside for hunting under the Angevin kings; and well into the English Renaissance, manuals on education for the aristocracy (such as Elyot's Book of the Governor, Ascham's Toxophilus, and Johnson's Essaies) continued to commend hunting for physical and intellectual training.(15) Hunting was "the very imitation of battle," declared Elyot, teaching men and mounts to negotiate difficult terrain, surmount hardships, and think tactically. Indeed Sir Thomas Cockaine, the Elizabethan author, listed several military commanders who had, he believed, learned their skills from the chase. As Keith Thomas notes, "like riding the great horse, the sport was in itself an assertion of social superiority" (p. 183); and as Matt Cartmill's recent study of hunting through history records, the exclusive aura of this blood-sport exacted, from the Middle Ages on, a large and arcane erudition. It came suitably replete with complex taboo and ceremonial, as well as a vast terminology, all formalized in thirteenth-century France, designed to display true breeding on the part of the exponent. "Why you know," preens a rustic snob in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour (1598), "an a man have not skill in the hawking and hunting languages now-a-days, I'll give not a rush for him. They are more studied than the Greek, or the Latin. He is for no gallant's company without them."(16)

The ferocious forest laws, which reserved rights of hunt to the ruling class, were profoundly resented. Medieval peasants accused of poaching were liable to castration, blinding, staking out to die in freezing waters, or even to being sewn into a deerskin and hunted down by hounds themselves. Further, peasants were obliged to mutilate ("expediate") the feet of their own dogs (to prevent their chasing forest prey) while rearing and maintaining hunting dogs for the use of their overlords.(17)

In Medieval and Renaissance thought, animals were indeed often bracketed with the lower classes. The dominion over the animals given Adam by God meant, said one Jacobean commentator, "such a prevailing and possessing as a master hath over his servants." The poor were often seen as beastlike since they lacked the educated accomplishments regarded as distinctively human, and were fated to toil like beasts. Beggars, too, were brutish, for they spent all day seeking food.(18) Yet the fact was that, as late as the seventeenth century, "Hounds were often better fed than the servants, and they were sometimes better housed.... As was repeatedly pointed out, hounds consumed food which could have been used to relieve the poor."(19)

Given such facts and perspectives, social reformers were frequently critics also of blood-sports. Puritans, Levellers, Quakers, and Dissenters often condemned animal cruelty, negro slavery, public execution, and torture alike;(20) and indictment of hunting carried overtones of political critique. The widespread European debate on the moral status of hunting (to which Erasmus, Montaigne, Moore, Cervantes, and Durer, among others, contributed: by the late sixteenth century there were anti-hunting poems written even in hunting manuals)(21) thus often implied repugnance for aristocratic authoritarianism. Hunting, to sum up, was indissociably identified with the rule of the aristocracy: their wealth, exclusiveness, ceremonialism, military force, and juridical harshness. As an activity that had always both symbolized and enacted prerogatived violence and seigneurial jurisdiction over life and death, hunting now resonated for many with the implied brutalities of a "predatory" social class.


But if the emerging minority response to the throes of a slaughtered deer was the arousal of pity, for the majority of contemporaries, the reaction remained one of hard-eyed envy: most people longed not for the abolition of deer hunting but for freedom to pursue it themselves. Both reactions were political. If compassion for butchered "inferior creatures" could encode empathy for victims of seigneurial power, deer hunting when practiced by the common man enacted spirited retaliation against that power, which had sought over centuries, with dubious legality, to monopolize the chase. In common law, wild animals had been classified from pre-Norman times as natural bounty free to all (ferae naturae), yet Game Laws from the late fourteenth century had sought to restrict the chase to the gentlemen and nobility. Prosecution of poaching was therefore forced to the dishonest expedient of punishing not hunting but its circumstances: commoners were indicted for night-walking, fence-breaking, possessing hunting weapons and the like. "Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, Parliament made every conceivable circumstance in which an unqualified person might hunt a crime."(22) In consequence, "Eating venison is what many Englishmen imagined they would do if they could turn the world upside down."(23)

As Roger Manning's important recent study has shown, deer hunting culture was accordingly saturated in political symbolism. At all social levels, deer hunting spoke a tense symbolic language of contention and justice. Simulating warfare in a century of peace, deer hunting disrupted Tudor England, to a degree which previous historians have not appreciated, with an endless gentry violence centered on ransacking one another's deer parks, destroying gates and palings, assaulting, even murdering keepers, and slaughtering deer en masse ("havocking") (p. 48). As Star Chamber Court records reveal, such poaching raids, conducted against one another by gentlemen or aristocrats leading heavily armed bands of a dozen to thirty or more men, could articulate challenge to honor, pragmatic domination in local power-struggles, and even rebellion, giving rise to vendettas that could last generations. Royal hunts, likewise, with their climactic slashing of a captured deer's throat accompanied by ritual "blooding" of courtiers, were a kind of theater or masque, suggests Roger Manning, promoting regal mystique and symbolically enacting its powers of punishment.(24) Commoners, too, used hunting symbolism, resorting on occasion to mass illegal hunts as a form of popular justice (somewhat like a skimmington), organized in revenge against a lord who had violated decency through enclosing common land, levying excessive taxes, or failing in hospitality.(25) "The symbolism and imagery of hunting are very rich; there was a covert language spoken in these rituals which was widely understood by contemporaries, although it is not always easy for us to decipher," concludes Manning. Indeed (although he does not himself apply this recognition to contemporary literature), "unlawful hunting could ... be a form of political protest and covert discourse couched in symbolic terms which evaded the legal definitions of sedition and treason" (pp. 3, 236).

As You Like It, I would argue, deploys both modes of feeling offered by deer hunting culture--the pathos of slaughter, and the jubilation of unlawful hunting--for symbolic oppositional statement and arousal. The profoundly symbolic nature of deer hunting language, we shall see, facilitated allegoric implication, while the primordial heat that the chase entailed could generate ebullient moods of political defiance in the carnivalesque popular theater.


We have seen that the emergence of compassion for animal pain, combined with the close identification of hunting with gentility, produced anti-hunting sentiments capable of symbolic overtone. The famous lines on the dying deer moralized by Jaques are just such an instance, I would argue, of the language of animal suffering deployed as a notation for oppositional political thought. The context is an official crackdown on a popular pleasure: satire.

It was suggested long ago (by F. G. Fleay, in his A Chronicle History of the Life and Work of William Shakespeare, 1886) that behind Touchstone's lament on suppression of satiric wit ("The more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wisemen do foolishly"; yes, agrees Celia, "For since the little wit that fools have was silenced, the little foolery that wisemen have makes a great show") there lies the book-burning of June 1599.(26) Queen Elizabeth, who had personally ordered the torture of the publisher of the Marprelate tracts in 1589,(27) had long been pleased by the persecution of "seditious" satire by her appointee Archbishop Whitgift, despite protests over the years from Walsingham and Burghley. (The latter protested on one occasion, to no avail, that Whitgift's persecution of Protestants was worse than the Spanish Inquisition's.)(28) By Star Chamber decree of 1586, Whitgift, as Archbishop of Canterbury, enjoyed the power, shared with the Bishop of London, to licence all publications in Britain and thus to function as the realm's chief censor. On 1 June 1599 he called in by "commandment" a number of "unseemly satires and epigrams," which were then publically burned in the Stationer's Yard on June 4. The bonfire included Marlowe's translation of Ovid's Amores, and as much of Thomas Nashe's work as could be found. Nashe's writings, it was decreed, should be taken wherever they could be laid hand on, and never after imprinted. This was the end for Nashe. Within two years, at the age of thirty-three, the satirist was dead.

As You like It, written in the succeeding months, frequently deplores the silencing of "fools" and satirists. The play's plot, of course, opens with a tyrannical court that has driven into exile not one satirist, but two. Touchstone and Jaques each criticize explicitly the muzzling of satire (see I.ii.80-84; II.vii.42-87); and the exiled Duke gives thanks that the woods and the seasons do not cocoon him among flatterers but provide him with "counsellors / That feelingly persuade me what I am" (II.i.10-11). Such elements appear to link the play's championing of satire to Shakespearean glee in insuppressible outlaw energies elsewhere, as over erotic freedom in Measure for Measure, for instance, written at most four years later.

It is directly following these words of Duke Senior, honoring the prerogative of "speaking truth to power" ("counsellors / That feelingly persuade me what I am" etc.), that the passage on the gored, sobbing deer ensues. There is far more to this passage than that participation, which Claus Uhlig has well documented, in a "literary topos"; for it is at pains, I suggest, both to enunciate through the wounded deer motif the usual anti-authoritarian sentiments against abusive imperium that we have seen attaching to criticism of hunting, and further, to infuse into such oppositional sentiments specific overtones of the recent literary executions in the Stationer's Yard.

"Come, shall we go and kill us venison?" asks Duke Senior. And yet it irks me the poor dappled fools, Being native burghers of this desert city, Should in their own confines with forked heads Have their round haunches gor'd. First Lord Indeed my lord, The melancholy Jaques grieves at that, And in that kind swears you do more usurp Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you. Today my Lord of Amiens and myself Did steal behind him as he lay along Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out Upon the brook that brawls along this wood, To the which place a poor sequester'd stag, That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt, Did come to languish; and indeed my lord, The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat Almost to bursting, and the big round tears Cours'd one another down his innocent nose In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool, Much marked of the melancholy Jaques, Stood on th'extremest verge of the swift brook Augmenting it with tears. Duke Senior But what said Jaques? Did he not moralize this spectacle? First Lord O yes, into a thousand similes. First, for his weeping into the needless stream, `Poor deer', quoth he, `Thou mak'st a testament As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more To that which had too much.' Then being there alone, Left and abandon'd of his velvet friend `Tis right', quoth he, `Thus misery doth part The flux of company.' Anon a careless herd, Full of the pasture, jumps along by him And never stays to greet him. `Ay', quoth Jaques, `Sweep on you fat and greasy citizens, Tis just the fashion. Wherefore do you look Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?' Thus most invectively he pierceth through The body of country, city, court, Yea, and of this our life, swearing that we Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse, To fright the animals and to kill them up In their assigned and native dwelling-place. (II.i.21-63)

The passage insists on the victim-deer as a "fool" ("jester"), underlining this identification by making it twice: the deer becomes a "poor dappled fool" at line 22, and a "hairy fool" at line 40. Twice, too, in Jaques's ensuing moralization of the deer's condition, an urban, bourgeois setting is superimposed: we are referred to "native burghers of this desert city" (l. 23), and later to "fat and greasy citizens" (l. 55). Twice, again, the section insists on the destructive action of the courtiers as "usurping," claiming a sovereignty beyond their true jurisdiction, invading others' sphere of bustling life: an oblique suggestion, it would seem, that the busy urban market and its publishing houses have their own independent domain and prerogatives ("their own confines," "assigned and native"), which ought not be invaded and overrun by courtly outsiders. "You do more usurp / Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you," Jaques claims; and thus "Most invectively he pierceth through / The body of country, city, court." A language of class opposition is, indeed, pronounced here: we have "burgher" against "tyrant" (ll. 23 and 61), and then "leathern coat" against "velvet" (ll. 37 and 50). (Leather establishes lower-class associations, as in the leather apron of the cobbler in Julius Caesar I.i.7, while Elizabethan sumptuary law confined the wearing of velvet to the upper classes.)

The passage fits well with a play much concerned not only with championing satiric prerogative but also with exposing social injustice. In the world of the play (as in Elizabethan England), so immense is hierarchic disparity in wealth and power that Rosalind and Celia, even "on the run" from courtly despotism, can casually buy up a countryman's house, land, flock, and shepherd (Corin at II.iv.76-91)--an event which, though benevolently intentioned in this instance, may, as a casual action of appropriation of life and its subsistence, remind us of the insouciant invasion of the deer's domain and appropriation of its life. It may remind us too of that habit we saw in the Elizabethan upper classes of associating the lower social classes with mere animal life. Such a suggestion indeed becomes unavoidably pointed when later, in a scene paralleling the deer-slaying action, we see how Touchstone, arriving in another class's "assign'd and native dwelling place," exercises precisely such a carefree, callous "toying" with the pain of rural underlings in exploitation of Audrey's trusting naivety, and in the scoffing courtly droit de seigneur by which he appropriates Audrey from William.

In As You Like It, then, the topos of the wounded deer and the presentation of the courtiers as inveterate deer-slayers articulate, with a safe, symbolic obliquity that can make it past the censor, a political indictment of feudal autocracy. They evoke an invasive, heartless, and destructive oppression by the nobility, both on a general level, and with specific overtones of the recent book-burning in the Stationer's Yard.


As You Like It, it has long been recognized, makes a number of affectionate allusions to Christopher Marlowe;(29) and Marlowe, I think we might additionally recall, was the writer named at the top of the book-burning list. If the play is topically allusive, however, what of that carefully detailed stag? The stag is described, in the passage above, as "Left and abandon'd of his velvet friend"; is ignored by prosperous ("fat and greasy") citizens; and is left to "languish" as a "poor and broken bankrupt" (II.i.50,55,35,57). It is now, indeed, "poor" and "sequester'd" (l. 33): the latter adjective carrying strong connotations to the Elizabethan ear lost on moderns, since to "sequester" was also a legal term, signifying the confiscation of property or estate (see OED "sequester," 2 and 3). "Sequestered" could thus mean "under sentence of sequestration," dispossessed (OED 1b). (Elsewhere Shakespeare likewise uses the word with connotations of law and corrective discipline, as in Othello on Desdemona's hand: "this hand of yours requires / A sequester from liberty; fasting and praying / Much castigation ... / For here's a young and sweating devil here, / That commonly rebels: Tis a good hand, / A frank one," III.iv.35-40)

One possibility I would like to suggest in view of all this is that the wounded creature of this detailed cameo might be the celebrated populist satirist Thomas Nashe, all of whose published works were to be confiscated and burned, and none of whose future writings were ever to be allowed into print. Nashe, as thus a publically "sequestered" professional writer, was condemned indeed to "languish" from this mortal wound as a "poor and broken bankrupt," and was in fact dead within two years of Whitgift's commandment.

Nashe's persecution and resultant impoverishment were famous. For during much of the year and a half prior to the June prohibition, Nashe had already been very publically rendered a badly wounded outcast by the authorities. The Isle of Dogs (1597) had been suppressed, and Nashe forced to flee London to Yarmouth and elsewhere in the East from summer 1597 to January 1599. "My case is no smothered secret," he noted in the opening pages of Lenten Stuff, but "a general rumour that hath filled all England." Further, Lenten Stuff had only just been published, some time following early February 1599; and in its first paragraph Nashe complained not only that he had been, in his own interesting word, "sequestered," but that in his "exile" he had been abandoned and contemned by even the least of citizens ("the silliest miller's thumb or contemptible stickle-back"): much as Jaques notes of "the careless herd, / Full of the pasture" that jump callously by the dying deer. Much of Lenten Stuff is a comic encomium to Yarmouth and its industry precisely for having not abandoned him in his "bankrout indigence."(30) The work also hints in places at his infirmity and closeness to death; the narrative, suggests his biographer Charles Nicholl, is "Nashe's swan-song, one desperate last `feate' before the curtains close."(31)

Another item of evidence is a public epitaph on Nashe. Published in 1601 by Charles Fitzgeffrey in Affaniae, this brief Latin poem relates that at the imperial edict of Jove, black death came for Nashe; and it has been speculated that this "edictum Iovis" could refer to Whitgift's commandment, with the implication that it killed Nashe by cutting him off from the trade that supported him,(32) leaving him indeed, like the deer, "a poor and broken bankrupt."

Finally, Nashe had been also abandoned by a "velvet friend," a former protector as "velvet" as they come. For, as documents in the Berkely Castle Muniments, recently given public discussion by Katherine Duncan-Jones (in the Times Literary Supplement "Commentary," 22 March 1996), reveal, Nashe had earlier been protected by Sir George Carey--2d Lord Hunsdon and cousin to the Queen through the Boleyns--during the Christmas season of 1593-94. In 1593, Carey had gained Nashe's release from Newgate prison, where he had been "in great missery malicied" for writing Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, a work dedicated to Carey's wife, Lady Elizabeth, which letters make it clear they had both read. "Without the help and protection of the Careys," writes Duncan-Jones, "Nashe's definitive silencing by the authorities in 1599 might have taken place as early as 1593." Following the death of his father in July 1596, however, Sir George Carey, now Baron Hunsdon and Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners, and a more prominent figure than ever at court, seems no longer to have protected Nashe from the slings and arrows of outraged authority.

My identification of the deer with Nashe is of course purely speculative, as, given the impact of contemporary censorship, so recently and so graphically tightened, it had even then necessarily to be. Moreover, an identification specifically with Nashe--indeed any identification at all with a particular contemporary--is inessential to my argument that the passage as a whole, with its mortal wounding of burghers in their assigned and native confines by a "usurping" court, carried overtones of protest, in this frequently anti-authoritarian, carnivalesque theatre, against the latest action of the authorities in their war against popular satire.

Nonetheless, identification of the "poor sequester'd" deer with a now outcast Thomas Nashe, worst hit of the suppressed satirists--a "fool," mortally wounded by courtly invasion of his natural domain, abandoned by a "velvet" friend, and cold-shouldered by prosperous burghers--would seem to fit well with what I read as an extended passage of veiled protest by the Company against the destructive courtly censorship of the book-burning that had taken place so recently and publically on the streets of London.


If the symbolic resonances of the dying deer motif allowed Shakespeare, in Act two, scene one, to infuse popular political protest into his play, what can one make of the later scene, Act four, scene two, in which song and laughter celebrate the slaying of a deer? Paradoxically, this scene, too, generates oppositional meaning, I would argue, and the context once again is official crackdown on a popular pleasure: this time, on poached venison and the black market. To reattune ourselves to the cultural resonances here, we must recover the politics of poaching.

Unlawful deer hunting was dense with insurrectionary connotation. As Manning records (p. 57), it was as a consequence of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 that the Game Laws first outlawed hunting by commoners: king and peers now feared the institution of gangs of armed men moving stealthily by darkness, who could plead the alibi of hunting whenever challenged. (The lower classes were thus confined to the hunting of rabbit and hare, wildfowl and fish.) "Always openly class-specific,"(33) Game Laws were further tightened with every rebellion: the Pilgrimage of Grace resulted in new categories of hunting felony, inflicting capital punishment for hunting by night or in disguise.(34) From 1544, no one with less than one hundred pounds per year freehold might hunt with or even possess handguns or crossbows.(35) And though by the Renaissance the full ferocity of the medieval punishments had abated,(36) popular resentment of the Game Laws always smouldered. Wat Tyler in 1381, German leaders of the Peasants' War in 1525, Gerard Winstanley in 1650, and French peasants in 1789 all demanded common rights of hunting throughout the realm. Popular attacks on deer parks accompanied rebellions in England in 1549, 1569, and 1641.(37) Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the anti-authoritarian mythology of Robin Hood, gaily plundering the deer of his enemies, was celebrated, popular, it seems, with gentry as well as commoners;(38) and juries sometimes refused to convict poachers, despite conclusive evidence, from the shared conviction that hunting should not be illegal.(39) What seems to have been particularly menacing to Tudor authorities was that poaching bands transgressed class hierarchy, promoting insurrectionary bravado and even "Levelling" associations. For poaching gangs placed a genteel leader at the head of armed commoners; and their expeditions, moreover, were customarily organized and afterwards celebrated in the rowdy, subversive milieu of ale-houses.(40) "When small-holders, servants, adolescents, women or masterless men belonged to poaching bands, this suggested an even more dangerous threat to patriarchal authority and opened up the prospect of a world turned upside down."(41) The overtones of class antagonism were particularly volatile in the England of the 1590s, when, for the first time under Tudor rule, large numbers of people starved to death in certain regions,(42) and when sheer hunger drove common people to the desperate and symbolic crime of deer-hunting.(43) It is in the close of this decade--in 1599--that As You Like It is composed and performed.

In Act four, scene two, Jaques and other lords, dressed like foresters (the word is ambiguous, and could designate either keepers or, more probably here, forest dwellers), enter for a brief scene that contributes nothing to the plot, and contains no specified action beyond a song, flourishing of a deer's head, and presumable accompanying dance or caper. To a modern audience, the scene may signify little beyond pastoral romp, and to the skimming eyes of the busy Elizabethan censor probably looked innocuous, devoid as it is of thought, and virtually of dialogue. In the carnival world of popular theater, however, political significance might be hard to miss. For the scene celebrates, I would argue, in a decade of angry hunger and to an audience largely denied hunting privilege, the kill of a deer by what is technically poaching (since the Duke has been deposed and forfeited thereby his customary rights). Moreover, since black market venison by the close of the century could earn a poacher as much in one night as a husbandman or artisan in a month,(44) both unlawful hunting and official backlash seem to have been mounting. In 1599, the Attorney-General was in process of prosecuting several individuals in the Star Chamber Court for deer poaching. Interestingly, he charges them with being "very dissolute, riotous and unruly persons, common nightwalkers and stealers of deer out of the forests, chases and parks" of the queen.(45) Several of these categories, we should note, are also routinely hurled in official complaints against theaters and their audiences; and we may recollect Falstaff's sly references to himself and his fellows (I Henry IVI.ii. 23-24) as "Diana's foresters, gentlemen of the shade." In the culture wars of the late sixteenth century, poaching culture and theater culture disreputably overlap. The Privy Council, simultaneously, had begun to crack down on the sale of game, ordering the lord mayor of London in 1599 and 1600 to terminate such transactions in city and suburbs. These orders from the authorities must have directly impacted the daily world of Shakespeare and of the audiences of As You Like It: for black market game, Manning records, was sold in such taverns as the Bull's Head in Cheapside, and in several Southwark taverns, including the nearby St. George's, which audaciously obtained its venison from St. James's park.(46) It is in these circumstances that As You Like It offers its audiences the open celebration of illegally taken deer slain by outlaws--and in a scene, I think, which appears to evoke the traditional exultation at the kill. Customarily, while the deer was being eviscerated, "the hunters who had horns blew the mort, while others hallooed and the hounds were encouraged to bay. This must have been an emotionally satisfying release" observes Manning, "which also served to reinforce communal bonds and, on a smaller scale, to elicit a sense of fraternity. Depending on the formality of the occasion, the hunters would march in procession homewards" (p. 40). When, at The Globe, the outlaw huntsmen halloo and process about the stage with their trophy antlers, "a sense of fraternity" is precisely what is being generated between characters and audience; and in the circumstances that fraternity, surely, betokened merry communal defiance of officialdom. The playhouse bonding of demotic audience with outlaw hunter-lords reproduces, moreover, just the type and spirit of alliance so feared by the authorities: that menacing combination of aristocratic leadership and rebellious commoners established and inflamed in alehouses. Act four, scene two, in an early Globe performance, becomes an exultant ritual of demotic political transgression.

Given the contemporary nuances of commoner deerhunting, it may be worth bearing in mind the legend (first put on paper in 1709) that Shakespeare as a youth had poached at the deerpark of Sir Thomas Lucy, written a defiant ballad against Lucy when caught, and been forced to flee Stratford in consequence. Such actions, suggests Manning, expressed a virile, anti-authoritarian rite-of-passage for a Tudor youth; and Charlecote may well have contained a deerpark in the 1580s even though no licence for one exists, since such licences were required only where necessary to prove non-encroachment upon royal hunting rights.(47)

The two scenes we have examined appear to collide: the earlier pathos of Jaques's sobbing deer seems brutally contradicted by the later amnesiac bloodlust of the same character and same companion lords. The play's intentions and effects here admit of debate, particularly since the potentialities of stagecraft allowed sabotage of either scene: the pathos could be played for laughs, or the volte face hallooing worked to implant suspicion of a fickle aristocracy. Both may well have been intended. My own suggestion is that the earlier scene lacked the lachrymose simplicity found there by later generations under the spell of Romanticism or in the age of Bambi. The novelty of serious sympathy for the death pangs of an impending fine repast must have enforced, I would guess, at the least a mingling of tones, a running overtone of hyperbolic clowning ("the big round tears / Cours'd one another down his innocent nose"); while the elaborated oddity of the section, as an action-free passage, concentrating extended description, reported speech, and florid sentiments, must have compelled heightened attention to its own arch enunciations, helping alert the audience to allegoric suggestion so often present in hunting language.The stranger and denser this reportage sounded, the less a matter of lucid emotion, the more audible its political sous-entendu.


The symbolic politics of deer hunting intensified during the seventeenth century. Each of the attitudes toward hunting that we have examined found wider expression: compassion for animal suffering produced vegetarianism and entered radical political critique, while popular envy of hunting privilege now advanced, we shall see, across the ground of legal and constitutional struggle against royal prerogative. Andrew Marvell's lyric monologue, "The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn," acquires, I will argue, emphatic political dimension when read in this context. If deerslaying in As You Like It had protested a feudal sortie, in "The Nymph" it laments feudalism's downfall. In Marvell's lyric, conceived in aftermath of regicide, the martyred dainty fawn is redolent of regal overtone.

Over both As You Like It's sobbing deer and Marvell's weeping fawn there hovers an uncertain play of tones, misting the boundary between pity sincere and histrionic, an ambiguation made possible by the new pluralization of perspectives on the status of animals; and both Shakespearean passage and lyric poem carry, as has often been remarked, puzzling overtones of fuller meaning, for which critics have not been able altogether to account. Moreover, Marvell probably knew at the time of writing "The Nymph" that Charles I had loved reading Shakespeare--"one who wee well know was the Closet Companion of ... his [Charles'] solitudes," as Milton, Marvell's friend and colleague, declared in 1649 in Eikonoklastes.(48) I see no reason to believe, however, that the lyric sets out to echo, contradict, or otherwise evoke the Shakespearean set-piece. Both, rather, draw on the convenience of the slain deer motif as part of an ancient and widely current politicized language, coopting its services for symbolic discussion of a recent and contentious political brutality.

This is not to deny that the poem's primary level of meaning is literal. The monologue presents a brilliant psychological portrait of a deflowered and abandoned young girl projecting onto a pet fawn her rejected romantic tenderness and her grieving, obsessive need for a lost purity. We saw earlier how new sensibilities toward animal suffering were challenging the traditional paradigm of disregard; and the Nymph's heartbreak, we may observe, expresses itself in just that uncertain tonality which the new sensitization introduced. Marvell creates for his nymph an unsteady range of tones, varying between tender empathy and sentimental fantasy.

Now my sweet fawn is vanished to Whither the swans and turtles go: In fair Elysium to endure, With milk-white lambs, and ermines pure. O do not run too fast: for I Will but bespeak thy grave, and die. (ll. 105-10)

Along with the desperate belief in a special heaven for little white pets and gentle creatures, a belief in an animal hereafter which, as we saw, some contemporaries were beginning to share, the poem carries a recurrent, conspicuous hesitance, a note of apology:

How could I less Than love it? O I cannot be Unkind, t'a beast that loveth me. (ll. 44-46)

"Unkind" becomes an important pun, importing conviction of tender affinities between beasts and humanity, just as some reformers urged. What does stand clear for her, as it was clear in the political overtones of protests against hunting, is that sympathy for beasts has grown from abusiveness in human dealings.

But I am sure, for ought that I Could in so short a time espy, Thy love was far more better than The love of false and cruel men. (ll. 51-54)

Beyond this primary level--the only level that the poem sustains throughout--the suffering fawn "lends itself," in Frank Kermode's words, "to shifting meanings in an allegorical field."(49) It is rich in "spectral meanings," as Graham Parry terms it, or in "symbolic parallels of which Marvell was deeply aware, so that they pressed upon his imagination, without, however, ever verging into actual allegory," for Ruth Wallerstein.(50) Defiantly thoroughgoing allegorizations have emerged, however, of which perhaps the oddest is Lyndy Abraham's recent conviction that "The Nymph" is a sustained symbolic account of the transmutations occurring in the alchemical opus; though one in which the Nymph proves so confused by her grief that she neglects, alas, the business of actually producing gold.(51) For some, historicizing interpretations have seemed hardly less fanciful. Muriel Bradbrook and M. G. Lloyd-Thomas long ago remarked the references to Canticles in the garden where the deer "feedeth among the lillies," and suggested in the miracle-working, purple life-blood an identification of the fawn with the crucified Christ, and perhaps thus the Church of England.(52) This proposal was, however, so sharply ridiculed by F. W. Bateson and by E. S. Le Comte, that Douglas Bush, who had repeated the apercu in his English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, silently withdrew it from the second edition.(53) Nonetheless, there are conspicuous martyrological and world-historical overtones here:

There is not such another in The world to offer for their sin. (ll. 23-24)

Earl Miner has noted, in a landmark essay, how the echo of the wounded and dying pet deer, inset by Virgil with great pathos into the Aeneid, introduces significant parallels with the Civil War in England; particularly since the slaying of the deer and the war thus provoked produced the birth of a new nation. The motif of an ancestral order overthrown by external violence, Miner suggests, evokes in Marvell's poem, with its "wanton troopers," the destruction of the feudal system by Cromwell's men. Miner explicitly disavows, however, the possibility of "the fawn representing Charles I and the Nymph England.(54) Annabel Patterson notes that "most readers ... have sensed, but been unable to define, a political ambience.... an experience of deep political sadness with sacrificial overtones." Yet the poem makes no attempt, she feels, "to provide equivalencies of meaning in which one set of signifiers requires exegesis in terms of the other."(55)

Whilst I agree with Professor Patterson and earlier critics that Marvell has not designed in the details of "The Nymph" a sustained allegoric correspondence to political actuality, my own suggestion is that there are, nonetheless, strong parallels between its fawn and King Charles; a recurrent identification confirmed both by elements within the poem, and by the cultural context of an intensification, conscious and polemical, of deer hunting's political meaning during the earlier seventeenth century. Consequently "The Nymph," I shall argue, needs to be recognized as one of Marvell's major political poems; indeed one which, in many points of tone, metaphor, language, outlook, and structure, substantially parallels and complements the Horatian Ode.

The Stuarts had pursued aggressive measures to make deer hunting yet more exclusive.James, a fanatic obsessive of the chase (an estimate of 1612 put his hunting expenses over a six-month period at more than fifty-seven thousand pounds),(56) announced, to the alarm of peers, that he possessed the right to hunt all the kingdom's deer across anyone's land throughout the realm; and in Game Acts of 1603 and 1605 he so tightened game laws as to exclude many lesser gentry from hunting in their own parks and lands. Charles, similarly, expanded the royal prerogative in forest and game legislation, several times extended his deer parks to encroach on common land, and even sparked an enclosure riot by doing so at Berkhamstead in 1620.(57) The Stuarts, sums up Manning, used the game laws to enhance the royal prerogative and buttress aristocratic privilege; and in the process, "James I and Charles I ... made the royal hunting reserves a symbol of royal tyranny" (pp. 81, 208).

In consequence, resentment of hunting monopoly now focused on the monarchy itself; and legal battles for hunting rights acquired overtones specifically of antiroyalist struggle. Contesting Stuart cancellation of ancient hunting rights, particularly the new restriction of hunting to the greater gentry, and the recent revocation of the hunting rights of purlieu men (freeholders of disafforested land once part of the royal forests),(58) champions of the common law, led by Coke, waged a long campaign, commanding much gentry support, against the prerogative courts. Among commoners, unlawful hunting was now escalating, and was targeting aristocratic reserves in particular. "Of all the species of disorder in England, probably only the Civil Wars of the seventeenth century were more injurious to royal government and aristocratic privilege than the phenomenon of large-scale, organized poaching."(59) The traditional insurrectionary climax to hunting as class warfare came in September 1641. At the threshold of outright civil war against Charles, popular attacks began against the royal deer in Windsor Forest, displaying "a distinct anti-monarchical bias." Riots and "tumultuous poaching" spread into the Berkshire section of the royal forest, and into Windsor Great Park by April 1642. "These riots and the large-scale slaughter of deer continued until 1644. By 1643 the soldiers brought in to protect Windsor Castle and Windsor Forest had joined in the plunder, cutting timber, attacking and sometimes killing the park keepers, and slaughtering whole herds of deer."(60) Venison for the masses came with the world turned upside clown.

At the height of this revolution, when the royal head had rolled, Marvell wrote "The Nymph." In the light of contemporary hunting connotation, with its savage finale of troopers "havocking" the king's deer, the poem's association of the fawn with Charles seems logical. Deer hunting had become the epitome of the royal prerogative; and the unrestrained slaughter of deer by commoners the very emblem of that privilege's brusque extirpation. That the slain fawn was at one level the martyred king was surely unmistakable to an interregnum reader. Moreover, its irony was magnificent. The master-paradox transforming royal huntsman into stricken deer embodied the immense revolutionary metamorphosis of a king dealt death by his commons. (It was powerful enough to be redeployed in the Horatian Ode.) Further, the conceit perversely projected the plaintive, compassionate sensibility of radicals and Levellers, protectively democratic, indignant at callous power, upon the image of the tyrant-king himself. The more we return the poem to its politicized hunting contexts, the more we recover Marvell's sardonic presence, the typical sleight of hand in transposed antitheses.

But Marvell's symbolic design can be deduced from traditional close reading, too; and it is to internal formal analysis of the poem and its politics that I wish now to turn. Linking the fawn to Charles, as Earl Miner and Graham Parry have briefly stated, is the thematics of betrayal, suffering, and overthrow of an "innocent" world of peace by the violence of troopers. Further, "the purple dye" of the deer's blood (l. 22) was the royal color (Miner); and lilies and roses were the emblems of Charles and Henrietta-Maria (Parry). To these parallels, I would add four more. First, class conflict is established from the outset in the opposition between "ungentle men" who killed the fawn, and "Heaven's King," who will mete out punishment. Second, the imagery through which the fawn's life is constituted consistently derives from an aristocratic world of wealth, luxury, and expensive immaculacy: a narrow, pampered order of experience evoked through sugar, sweet milk, white hands, a private rose garden, whitest sheets, a silver chain, a golden vial, marble, and alabaster. Third, the Nymph's garden is now overgrown, become "a little wilderness," as had the royal gardens of Whitehall, Hampton Court and Nonsuch following the execution of Charles I in 1649, their statuary dismantled, trees felled and gardens abandoned to weeds:(61) a calculated negligence to which so keen a lover and poet of gardens as Marvell would not have been insensitive. Fourth, the Nymph has recourse, after the fawn's death, not only to regal-sounding commemorative statuary but to a vial preserving drops from the martyr's body: carrying overtones perhaps of the reliquaries treasured by the Royalists containing objects allegedly stained by the blood of Charles.

That the Nymph thus shares the martyrological heartbreak of a traumatized, reverently commemorative Cavalier is, I suggest, one of the many connections binding the poem as a whole to the Horatian Ode. We may observe, I would like to argue, an entire network of others.

One is the hunting motif. In the Ode, Cromwell is himself a cruel hunter: the Picts need "shrink" from him ("Happy, if in the tufted brake / The English hunter him mistake, / Nor lay his hounds in near / The Caledonian deer," ll. 108, 109-12); and Charles had been himself quite specifically a hunted beast, "chased" to Carisbrooke by Cromwell's subtle "net" (ll. 51,50). Both poems, in fact, proffer the conceit of the deer becoming invisible through submergence in vegetation ("Nymph," ll. 77-82; Ode, ll. 109-12).

Each poem presents the gratification of armed men with bloodied hands in the fact of the kill: in the Ode, clapping a stage spectacle of death (ll. 55-56), in "The Nymph," washing their hands in the fawn's "warm life-blood" (ll. 18-19). (The washing of hands in the deer's blood was aristocratic convention: high-born ladies were offered this "privilege," supposed to make their hands more white:(62) a notion clearly present in the Nymph's denial that even the fawn-blood cannot "clean" the killers' hands (ll. 18-21).

Again, in each poem, an earlier, idyllic life in a garden carries an escapist hint: the Nymph, fleeing her grief at Sylvio's betrayal, Cromwell living in "private gardens"

As if his highest plot To plant the bergamot. (ll. 31-32)

Both poems meditate but bypass an invocation of justice. Charles had not "called the gods with vulgar spite / To vindicate his helpless right" (ll. 61-62), and the Nymph, similarly, declares she wishes the killers no ill, and will even pray for their forgiveness (ll. 7-12). Overwhelmed by her horror, however, she then proclaims punishment unpreventable ("There is not such another in / The world, to offer for their sin"), whereas the Ode concludes, with Machiavellian grimness: "Though justice against Fate complain" (my emphasis; note the recurring title-word) "And plead the ancient rights in vain: / But those do hold or break / As men are strong or weak" (ll. 37-40).

Both fawn and King expire with heroic control and calm:

O help! O help! I see it faint: And die as calmly as a saint (ll. 93-94)

exclaims the Nymph; whilst Charles, in the celebrated lines,

... nothing common did or mean Upon that memorable scene ... But laid his comely head Down as upon a bed. (ll. 57-58, 63-64)

The bed metaphor is common to both poems: for the fawn "folds" its "limbs / In whitest sheets" of lilies (ll. 89-90). Again, the fawn "waxed tame" just as the Irish "are ashamed / To see themselves in one year tamed" (ll. 34, 73-74). Treacherously, Cromwell broke, like lightning, through the very clouds where he had been "nursed" (ll. 13-16), and "nursing" likewise carries the hint of competitive threat in "The Nymph":

With sweetest milk, and sugar, first I it at mine own fingers nursed. And as it grew, so every day It waxed more sweet and white than they. It had so sweet a breath! And oft I blushed to see its foot more soft And white (shall I say than my hand?) (ll. 55-61)

That muted hint of competition, of nurturing a subject by whom one may become surpassed or betrayed, grows stronger elsewhere in the poem:

Had it lived long, I do not know Whether it too might have done so As Sylvio did: his gifts might be Perhaps as false or more than he. (ll. 47-49, my emphasis)

"Or more" is chilling. Coming straight from the broken heart of a jilted lover, it carries us into precisely the realm of heartless incalculability and volte face, into the vision of inescapable provisionality and potential treachery that the Machiavellian Ode delineates in the political order.

The openings of the two poems could be said to issue into one another. The actions of Sylvio, who had wooed his lover by presenting her in the garden with both fawn and cliched verse (ll. 31-32), but who thereafter "grew wild" (l. 34) and abandoned her, parallel the transition urged by the opening of the Ode where a

forward youth that would appear Must now forsake his muses dear Nor in the shadows sing His numbers languishing. (ll. 1-4)

If indeed Sylvio, a poeticizing "forward youth," left the peaceful shadows of the garden to join (or oppose) those troopers that ride so casually into "The Nymph" from the Ode, it is logical enough that those armed men (who, tellingly, merely "pass by") are regarded by her, in a choicely ambiguous word, as "wanton" ("Nymph," l. 1). Indeed the youth opening the Ode is also enveloped in language of light erotic suggestion: "forward" could mean "pert," "bold," or "immodest" (OED A8); and "languishing" (l. 4) "pining with love" (OED 2a).

Two final links between these poems are perhaps most important of all, since they exist at the level of the poems' formal structures. Each poem unfolds an evaluative crisis. The movement of the Ode through dubieties of tone and political ambiguity, through perspectives alternately mordant and respectful toward Charles and Cromwell alike, is too famous to require rehearsal here. But "The Nymph" likewise navigates objective uncertainties, articulates ambivalence and puzzlement, changing its mind rapidly (as over the question of punishment for the "wanton troopers"), confessing repeatedly either to uncertainty or to sudden, gathering clarity.

I remember well ... I'm sure I do (ll. 27,30) Had it lived long, I do not know Whether it too might have done so ... (ll. 47-48) But I am sure, for ought that I Could in so short a time espy ... (ll. 51-52)

Climaxing the evaluative puzzlings and strain, Marvell establishes in both poems the moment of death itself as a transformative focus: one that shifts the tone beyond dubieties and into resolute idealization and cultic commemoration. The "royal actor born" is decisively elevated beyond actions "common or mean" in that "memorable hour," his eye keener than the axe's edge; while the Nymph eyeing her dying saint puts vicissitudes of memory and judgment behind her to reach for melting religious superlatives and her golden vial. In this context, her finale of acclamation, "For I would have thine image be / White as I can, though not as thee" (my emphasis) rings with a self-betraying, subconscious ambiguity (the fawn may in fact have been not more, but less than white in the purest degree); and Marvell may be here imparting, in shrewd psychological and political conclusion, a tough-minded scepticism about the hyperbolical heights to which hagiographic emotion may carry the devotee.

Given, then, this "subtle net" (Ode, ll. 49,50) of parallels, both thematic and structural, I would like to suggest that "The Nymph Complaining" is actually a companion piece to the Ode. Evoking an order of retreat to private land ("I have a garden of my own," l. 71), of gardens become wilderness and of wealth dedicated to commemorative grief, of casual violence from troopers whom only God may indict, and of half-consciously false idealization in a foundering, incalculable world, the fawn-garden gives us the Cavalier condition after 30 January 1649.

What, however, might have motivated Marvell to create this curious diptych: these twinned pictures equal in size ("The Nymph" is just a couplet longer than the Ode), which to the glance seem diametrically opposed yet which disclose so much interpenetration?

In the late seventeenth century one Mrs. Sadleir, as David Masson's biography of Milton informs us, accused Marvell of having collaborated with Milton in 1649 on Eikonoklastes, the parliamentary riposte to Eikon Basilike which had appeared and run through sixty editions that year. That rumor raises, as Annabel Patterson has noted, "the interesting proposition that Marvell was, in the year preceding The Horation Ode, actively involved in the theoretical problems of the King's death, of which not the least important was the rhetorical nature of the king's image."(63)

It may be that the imagination of a poet thus steeped in the sensibility of Royalist elegy in that "climacteric" year needed to write, and found in "The Nymph," a more directly emotional exploration than the Ode of the experience of war and regicide, an artistic response that could engage that quality of intimate despair over Caroline "martyrdom" which was engulfing vast numbers of Cavaliers and their sympathisers. The persona of "The Nymph" offers the perspective of the vanquished--simplifying and hyperbolic--even as the Ode surveys, with supple philosophic sang froid, the power and possibilities of the new "Caesar" (l. 101). "The Nymph" perhaps legitimated as merely "feminine" the exploration of such grieving by a "Puritan" poet, while recreating much the same disorienting astonishment, the same questioning and reflex cries for justice, and the same turn to disambiguated cultic commemoration, which the first half of the Horatian Ode had presented before steeling itself to a "masculine" and Machiavellian worldly judiciousness. Further, the iconic exaggerations of the Nymph herself, her professed suicidal intention and world of pampered heartbreak, retain within the poem something of the detached, sceptical realism of the Puritan eye, as it surveyed what it doubtless saw as Cavalier hysteria and incorrigible self-indulgence.

At all events, if the Ode's world is the Revolution, "The Nymph"'s is the Interregnum; if the former probes events with forward-tensed gaze, the latter is elegy for a life "the wanton troopers" have destroyed, having "cast the kingdoms old / Into another mould" (ll. 34-35). Where "The Nymph" evokes a primacy of personal relations, the Ode foregrounds a figure who savages allies ("with such to inclose / Is more than to oppose", ll. 19-20), and counterposes to private love the realm of public force. To the stasis of "The Nymph" amongst "the inglorious arts of peace," contrasts the dynamism of Cromwell, "The wars' and Fortune's son" (ll. 10,113), restless in the fields of historical action. Taken thus together, the two poems of the diptych form a remarkably full and satisfying symmetry, opposing vanquished and victor, revolution and interregnum, emotional simplification and Machiavellian calculation, peace against war, personal tenderness against realpolitik. Although the "twinning" of the two poems is perhaps unique in his output, the superb dialectical richness that results is typical of the art of Andrew Marvell, justly celebrated for his antithetical habit of mind, his verse's habitual apprehension through polarized conditions.

In conclusion, the motif of the slain deer is supplely political, grounded as it is in the lost connotations of a seigneurial hunting culture. Though Renaissance perspectives on the chase became sharply divided between minority revulsion and suppressed majority enthusiasm, each encoded dissidence toward authoritarian political control. Unlawful deer slaying, to the commoner a subversive triumph, rowdily celebrated in As You Like It, became for the feudal elite an emblem of apocalypse, terrifyingly realized in 1641. And as parliamentary imperium replaced aristocratic autocracy, the converse compassionate motif of the "martyred deer" became a floating notation or realignable "structure of feeling." Its flexible pathos in revulsion from heartless power could indict the Elizabethan authorities, as in Shakespeare, or regicide, as in Marvell. In the wised-up words of Jaques in exile, one could "moralize the spectacle into a thousand similes."

(1.) Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World, 1500-1800 (London: Penguin, 1983), p. 98. References to William Shakespeare's As You Like It will be to the second Arden edition, ed. Agnes Latham (London: Methuen, 1975). References to Marvell's verse will be to Andrew Marvell: The Complete Poems, ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972).

(2.) Claude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1966), pp. 205-7.

(3.) Thomas, p. 114.

(4.) The Poems of Sir Philip Sidney, ed. William A. Ringler (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), p. 103.

(5) Thomas, p. 18.

(6.) Lynn White, Jr., "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis," Science, 155 (1967), 1205.

(7.) Thomas, p. 148.

(8.) Matt Cartmill, A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature through History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1993), p. 104.

(9.) Thomas, pp. 290-95.

(10.) On Renaissance tender-heartedness, see Thomas, pp. 173-75; Michel de Montaigne, Essays, trans. John Florio (London: 1603), 2, 119; Thomas Muffet, Healths Improvement (1655), p. 67, cited in Thomas, p. 94.

(11.) Claus Uhlig, "The Sobbing Deer: As You Like It and the Historical Context," in Renaissance Drama, 3 (1970), 79-109.

(12.) Cited in Thomas, p. 145.

(13.) Thomas, pp. 146-47; Anne Somerset, Elizabeth I (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991), p. 381; D. H. Willson, King James VI and I (London: Jonathan Cape, 1963), p. 180.

(14.) Sir John Harington, writing from Theobalds (1606) to Secretary Barlow, in Nugae Antiquae, Vol. 1, ed. Henry Harington (London: Vernor and Hood et al., 1804), 352.

(15.) Uhlig, pp. 91, 100.

(16.) Cartmill, pp. 60-67; Roger B. Manning, Hunters and Poachers: A Social and Cultural History of Unlawful Hunting 1485-1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 12.

(17.) Cartmill, p. 61; Thomas, pp. 49-50.

(18.) Thomas, pp. 43-46.

(19.) Thomas, p. 104.

(20.) Thomas, pp. 153-62, 183-85, 290-92.

(21.) Cartmill, pp. 76-91; Uhlig, pp. 79-109.

(22.) Manning, p. 59.

(23.) Manning, p. 62.

(24.) Manning, pp. 3, 6, 48, 196, 201.

(25.) Manning, pp. 153, 218-19, 235.

(26.) F. G. Fleay, A Chronicle History of the Life and Work of William Shakespeare (London: 1886), p. 208; As You Like It, I.ii. 80-84.

(27.) Somerset, p. 496.

(28.) Somerset, p. 493.

(29.) For the references to Marlowe in As You Like It, see Latham's Arden edition, p. xxxiii; also Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (London: Jonathan Cape, 1992), pp. 72-76, who lists six allusions to Marlowe.

(30.) Lenten Stuff, in Thomas Nashe: The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works, ed. J. B. Steane (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), p. 380.

(31.) Charles Nicholl, A Cup of News (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), p. 265.

(32.) Nicholl, A Cup of News, p. 269, notes the speculation but reserves judgment. See also pp. 264-65 on Lenten Stuff's hints of Nashe's infirmity.

(33.) Christopher Hill, Liberty against the Law: Some Seventeenth Century Controversies (London: Penguin, 1996), p. 100.

(34.) Manning, p. 64.

(35.) Hill, p. 100.

(36.) Manning, pp. 66, 79.

(37.) Manning, pp. 17, 61, 210.

(38.) Manning, pp. 20-22; Hill, pp. 71-90.

(39.) Manning, p. 68.

(40). Manning, pp. 55, 160, 166-67, 194.

(41.) Manning, p. 183.

(42.) Joyce Youings, Sixteenth-Century England (London: Penguin, 1984), p. 270.

(43.) Peter Clark, English Provincial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, Society and Politics in Kent (Sussex: Harvester, 1977), p. 234; cited in Hill, p. 98.

(44.) Manning, pp. 11, 164.

(45.) Manning, p. 77.

(46.) Manning, pp. 166-67.

(47.) Manning, pp. 182-83.

(48.) John Milton, Eikonoklastes (London, 1649), p. 11.

(49.) Frank Kermode, critical note to lines 71-92 in his Oxford Authors edition of Andrew Marvell (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), p. 287.

(50.) Graham Parry, Seventeenth-Century Poetry: the Social Context (London: Hutchinson, 1985), p. 224; Ruth Wallerstein, Seventeenth Century Poetic (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1950), p. 336.

(51.) Lyndy Abraham, Marvell and Alchemy (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1990), pp. 241-94.

(52.) M. C. Bradbrook and M. G. Lloyd-Thomas, Andrew Marvell (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1940), pp. 47-50.

(53.) F. W. Bateson, English Poetry: A Critical Introduction (London: Longmans, 1950), pp. 69-79, reprinted in Andrew Marvell: A Critical Anthology ed. John Carey (Harmondsworth:Penguin, 1969), pp. 102-6; Edward Le Comte, "Marvell's `The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn,'" Modern Philology, 50 (1952), 97-101, reprinted in Carey, pp. 274-81; Douglas Bush, English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945), p. 161.

(54.) Earl Miner, "The Death of Innocence in `Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn,'" Modern Philology, 65 (1967), 9-16, reprinted in Marvell: Critical Judgements, ed. Michael Wilding (London: Macmillan, 1969), pp. 273-84, quotation p. 281.

(55.) Annabel Patterson, Marvell and the Civic Crown (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1978), p. 23.

(56.) Manning, p. 205.

(57.) Manning, pp. 66, 60, 81, 207-8.

(58.) Manning, pp. 58-62, 75, 83-108.

(59.) Manning, p. 194.

(60.) Manning, pp. 208-9.

(61.) Roy Strong, The Renaissance Garden in England (London: Thames and Hudson, 1979), p. 197.

(62.) Thomas, p. 29.

(63.) Patterson, p. 20.

Chris Fitter, Rutgers University-Camden3