The poem, A dialogue between the Soul and Body by Andrew Marvell contains vivid and concrete imagery, and makes use of a number of conceits imagery, and metaphysical kind. In fact, the very basis of the poem is the metaphysical kind. In fact, the very basic of the poem is the metaphysical concept that the Soul and the Body are separate entities. The body feeling itself to be a victim of the Soul tyranny, and the Soul believing itself to be a prisoner inside the Body are metaphysical conceits.
- In the opening speech, we have a graphic picture of a prisoner being held in chains and fetters, and about to be hanged on the gallows
- In the second speech, we have a vivid picture of the Body going about like a walking precipice.
- We have the vivid picture of a ship nearing its destination but getting wrecked just when its close to the harbor.
- In the final speech we have a series a vivid pictures describing the physical manifestation of the emotions experienced by the soul.
Marvell structures the poem in the form of a debate between the Body and the Soul, creating an aggressive, combative tone. There are 4 stanzas, and each section is divided into 10 lines with a repeating rhyme scheme (AA. BB. CC. DD) which adds to this TONE by creating a melodic, conversational flow.
Andrew Marvell was born in Winestead-in-Holderness, Yorkshire, where his father was rector. When his father became Master of the Charterhouse (an almshouse) and lecturer in Holy Trinity Church in 1624, the family moved to Hull. He attended Hull Grammar School, then Trinity College, Cambridge where he had two poems printed in the Musa Cantabrigiensis in 1637 and 1638, one in Greek, the other Latin. He received his BA in 1638, but abandoned his MA studies on his father’s accidental death by drowning in 1641. He then travelled abroad in France, Holland, Switzerland, Italy and Spain between 1642 (21) and 1646, and in 1650 became tutor to Mary Fairfax (later Duchess of Buckingham), the twelve year old daughter of the retired Lord General Thomas Fairfax. It was during his time at the Fairfax’s Nun Appleton House that he wrote most of his English lyric poetry, including To His Coy Mistress. By 1653 he had met and befriended John Milton, who recommended him for government employment. No post was offered at this time, however, and he became instead tutor to Cromwell’s nephew, William Dutton. In 1656 he was in Saumur in France with Dutton, at the Protestant Academy. He became assistant to Cromwell’s Secretary of State in 1657, retaining the office until early 1660. He died suddenly of a fever in 1677. His poetry was published as Miscellaneous Poems posthumously in 1681, brought to print by a Mary Palmer, who claimed to be his wife. Though she succeeded in acquiring the administration of his estate, no other hard evidence has been found to support her claim that they were in fact married.