Study Guide

The Garden Stanza 7

By Andrew Marvell

Stanza 7

Lines 49-52

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide:

  • We get to stanza 7 and our speaker is kickin' it. He's relaxing at the base of a fountain, he's leaning up against a nice, mossy fruit tree root and just generally having a grand old time.
  • But while his body is stationary, his soul is just waking up. "The body's vest" is another way of saying "skin," so our speaker is talking about an actual out-of-body experience.
  • His soul is gliding away into the trees, but he doesn't seem concerned about it at all. 
  • The soul, in fact, is running the whole show. We don't know where this is going but it sure has gotten good.

Lines 53-56

There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets, and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light. 

  • Describing what the soul is up to is apparently a little tricky, so Marvell uses another simile to help make things more clear.
  • The speaker's soul is like a bird.
  • This soul-bird seems happy, too. It's sitting, singing, and getting its feathers all fancy.
  • The bird is also preparing for "longer flight," which brings in the second part of our simile. Indirectly, the migration of a bird is being compared to the death of the speaker. The "longer flight" is actually the permanent separation between soul and body at the time of natural death.
  • You might think that death would be a downer, but the speaker's soul seems very okay with the idea. Its "preparation" seems actually very pleasant and relaxing. Why do we think our speaker is able to be so calm?
  • Poetic devices like alliteration and consonance don't play a huge role in "The Garden," but we did notice some S sounds appearing pretty frequently in this passage. They're soft, breathy, and contribute to the overall relaxing tone of the stanza.
  • (Check out "Sound Check" for more of this stuff.)