Study Guide

The Garden Stanza 9

By Andrew Marvell

Stanza 9

Lines 65-68

How well the skillful gard'ner drew
Of flow'rs and herbs this dial new;
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;

  • In line 65, the speaker praises the gardener for the work he has done. 
  • Using another metaphor, Marvell compares the speaker's garden to a sundial made of flowers and herbs. We recommend checking this out if you want to know more about how sundials work.
  • According to the metaphor, the changing of the seasons turns the flowers into mini-sundials. You can follow the passing of time by watching the flowers bloom, grow, and fade in the same way that you can track time by keeping your sundial handy.
  • The "fragrant zodiac" is really just another way of restating the metaphor. Different zodiac signs correspond with certain positions of the sun in the sky, so the "fragrant zodiac" is the different flowers and herbs that bloom and wither at different times of the year.
  • This can also be looked at from a spiritual perspective, where God is the gardener-clockmaker and the sundial measures not just the passing of a day or a year, but the life of the speaker.

Lines 69-72

And, as it works, th' industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flow'rs!

  • We're still working with the sundial metaphor in the final lines of the poem, except now a new piece has been added: the bee. 
  • The bees are presented as being "industrious" and "computing their time" or keeping track of their days. Their most logical metaphorical counterpart, then, is people. 
  • Marvell even comes out and says it in line 70: the bees compute their time "as well as we." This could mean that they do just as good of a job as we do, but it could also mean that bees keep track of time just like humans do.
  • The last two lines of the poem bring everything together. Our speaker, like the bees, chooses to spend his hours in the garden, amongst the herbs and flowers. But if we switch gears and go back to imagining the garden as a sundial, the sentiment still works, because the herbs and flowers are literally being used as ways to keep track of time.