On a Drop of Dew
Andrew Marvell's On a Drop of Dew compares the journey of a drop of dew to the journey of the human soul. In the very beginning of the poem, there is an "orient dew." Orient is another word for East, which is important because the sun rises in the east; the sun represents God in this metaphysical comparison. This "orient dew" is "shed from the bosom of the morn," so the dew originates from the sun, or the human soul originates from God. The dew's "mansion new" is the rose on which it rests, where it forms into a perfect drop and "round in itself incloses." The dew drop / soul barely touches the flower / earth on which it rests, and it "gazes back upon the" skies / heavens. Eventually, the dew transitions from water to vapor, just as the soul transitions from mortal to spiritual. The dew / soul gets "mournful . . . because so long divided from the" sphere / God, and it "[trembles], lest it grow impure." However, the sun / God takes pity on the dew / soul, and brings it back to the skies / heavens to relieve its anxiety.
About the Poet
Marvell was born on March 31, 1621. He grew up in Hull, England; Reverend Andrew Marvell, his father, was the minister at Holy Trinity Church. Marvell (the Second) began school at Trinity College in Cambridge, England at the age of twelve. He published his first poems at the age of sixteen, one in Latin and one in Greek. He intended to stay in school to get his masters' degree, but then his father drowned in the Hull estuary and he quit school. He then spent most of the 1650s tutoring English women and men. Afterwards, he was a politician who worked for Oliver Cromwell. He then traveled in Russia, Holland, Sweden, and Denmark from 1662 - 1665, and he died of a fever in 1678 after working in Parliament for eighteen years. Almost all of his poems were published after his death, similar to many writers and poets of that time.