Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men.
- In stanza 2 we learn that our speaker has found "Fair Quiet" and "Innocence" "here." Where exactly "here" is we don't know yet, but we know where it is not. Lines 11 and 12 tell us that the speaker, once upon a time, looked for "Fair Quiet" and "Innocence" in society, but came back empty-handed.
- Lines 9 and 10 use a literary device known as personification, or the act of referring to a non-living object (idea, place, thing, quality) as if it had personal attributes. Marvell refers to "Fair Quiet" as having a sister, Innocence, and therefore personifies the two ideas.
- You might be tempted to label the speaker's address to "Fair Quiet" in line 9 as an apostrophe, but is it really? It looks an awful lot like one, but in order for it to be a true apostrophe, it has to be an address to someone or something who isn't there. "Fair Quiet" is referred to as being "here." Of course, whether or not you consider it an apostrophe depends on where you think "here" is. Let's keep reading to see if we get any more clues.
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow.
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.
- The "your" at the beginning of line 13 refers all the way back up to "Fair Quiet" in line 9. So now the speaker, it seems, is talking about Fair Quiet owning plants—plants which, we learn in line 14, only grow among other plants.
- At first glance line 14 seems like a weird and totally obvious statement to make. Why should Fair Quiet's plants not be found with plants belonging to anyone else?
- In order to really understand lines 13 and 14, we have to dip into a little seventeenth century philosophy. These lines are actually referring to the idea that all the plants on earth are inferior versions of the plants that grow "above" or in heaven. The sunflowers you see out your window, for example, are all well and good, but they aren't anywhere close to being as beautiful as the sunflowers that grow in the afterlife.
- Marvell is talking up nature. He's saying that, if the sacred versions of plants exist anywhere on earth, they'd be found hanging out with the other plants. Nature, even in its inferior, earthly form, is a more suitable place for sacred plants than anything human society could come up with.
- Lines 15 and 16 sum things up: society can't compare to being alone in the great outdoors.
- The mention of "solitude" in line 16 catches our attention. The speaker isn't just trying to escape the hustle and bustle of city life; he's saying "I want some 'me time' out here in the country and don't anyone even think of trying to tag along." It seems that the only way to stay truly removed from society is to have no company at all.