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Marvell et l’éloge ambigu du roi martyr

Abstract : Andrew Marvell has offered one of the most famous poetical representations of Charles’execution in his “Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland”. In this poem, the king submits to his fate with remarkable grace and courage (ll. 53-64). This passage, appearing as it does in an ode dedicated to Cromwell, has fuelled heated debates among specialists, concerning in particular the delicate issue of the poet’s political allegiance at the moment when the poem was composed. Yet, if we leave aside the specific issue of the author’s wavering political allegiances and choose instead to concentrate on the strategies of representations, not just of the regicide but of the monarchical system as a whole, we find that they remain surprisingly consistent in poems that have clearly different political stances. Beyond the question of the acceptation or rejection of the regicide, it is therefore important to consider the poet’s specific vision of the event and of a political system whose greatness and weakness are somehow encapsulated in the passive magnificence of a martyr king. Andrew Marvell does not decide whether the regicide is good or bad, cataclysmic or providential, because the regicide is more than a political disruption or a historical turn. In fact it can be seen as the beginning of history, marking the entrance of England into a new era, both threatening and promising. In this respect, the regicide plays a role akin to that of original sin in Milton’s Paradise Lost : it is of course unfortunate but also allows England to stand on the threshold of a new world.
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Gilles Sambras. Marvell et l’éloge ambigu du roi martyr. Etudes Epistémè : revue de littérature et de civilisation (XVIe - XVIIIe siècles), Association Études Épistémè, 2011, Poétique de la catastrophe ? Représentations du régicide aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles en Europe, ⟨10.4000/episteme.432⟩. ⟨hal-03426714⟩



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