Marvell’s “Ode” (1650) is an English poem about a British problem – a problem further problematized by religion. The “Ode” lauds Cromwell’s Irish and Scottish campaigns, but English responses to these “colonial” wars were in reality complicated by protestant infighting among presbyterians, independents, and sectarians. Writers like Milton and Nedham rallied English support for Cromwell’s Irish campaign by recycling Spenserian stereotypes of Irish catholic barbarity. But Milton and Nedham also undercut English protestant unity by flinging these same anti-catholic stereotypes at Scottish presbyterians in Belfast and Edinburgh. Departing from previous studies, this article argues that Marvell’s “Ode” eschews Milton and Nedham’s anti-Presbyterianism in ways calculated to elide, rather than divide, protestant communities. The article explores how the “Ode” presents Cromwell’s Irish and Scottish campaigns as exclusively anti-catholic (rather than anti-presbyterian) crusades, comparing Marvell’s presentation of Cromwell in the “Ode” with his identification of Cromwell as an anti-catholic crusader in “First Anniversary” (1655). Both poems anticipate in this respect Marvell’s later anti-catholic, but pro-nonconformist, approach to Ireland in Rehearsal transpros’d (1672-1673). The article is therefore concerned to root Marvell’s post-Restoration commitment to protestant tolerationism within the anti-catholic language of the “Ode”.
Mottram, S. (2018). The religious geography of Marvell’s “An Horatian Ode”: popery, presbytery, and parti-coloured picts. Seventeenth Century, 33(4), 441-461. https://doi.org/10.1080/0268117X.2018.1484636