Department

Foreign Languages

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Embargo Period

1-27-2020

Abstract

THE TORTOISE IN ANDREW MARVELL’s “Upon Appleton House, To My Lord Fairfax” (1652) is a highly perplexing metaphor that appears twice, framing the poem’s ninety-seven octosyllabic stanzas.1 The initial suggestion that “Beasts [. . .] Birds [. . .] [and] Tortoises” (11–13) inhabit spaces best suited to their anatomies creates a lacuna in the poem, which some scholars have interpreted as a critique of Appleton House.2 Is the Fairfacian dwelling, standing in Brobdingnagian scale against the backdrop of the tortoise shell, unbefitting of its owner, Marvell’s patron, Lord General Thomas Fairfax (1612–1671)? Or does the poet revere the scale and proportion of Appleton House and praise it axiomatically, through a theory of architecture articulated in the maxim: “Their Bodies measure out their Place” (16)? I argue the latter case and propose that the shared geometries of architecture and anatomy converge in the source of the tortoise metaphor: Vitruvius’s De architectura (ca. 15 BCE).

Journal

South Central Review

Journal ISSN

0743-6831

Volume

36

Issue

3

First Page

68

Last Page

84

Comments

This is the post-print. The full publisher's PDF is available at https://muse.jhu.edu/article/741498.

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