Summary and Analysis of On A Drop Of Dew: 2022

About Andrew Marvell:
Well-known for being one of the first renowned English metaphysical poets of his time, Andrew Marvell was also a satirist and politician. Born on the 31st of March 1621 in Yorkshire to the clergyman of the Church of England, he completed his Bachelor’s at Trinity College, Cambridge.Having travelled through continental Europe, he seemed to have mastered four languages that included French, Italian and Spanish. Marvell’s poems vary from the romantic lore of “To His Coy Mistress” and “The Definition of Love”, to the empowering political address in “An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland”, to the overwhelming tale of the aristocratic household in “Upon Appleton House” and “Garden”. Marvell was known for his sly use of words disguised in his poems to denote his ideals and views in the metaphysical nature.

Introduction to On A Drop Of Dew:

The poem revolves around a drop of dew and its journey after descending from the skies. The dew drop that is the embodiment of aman’s soul is metaphorically and metaphysically reflected through the dew’s observations and musings. The poet discusses how the soul wishes to reunite with its creator into the skies and quivers away from the materialistic attractions that the man’s world offers. The poem illustrates Marvell’s ideals on the strong influence of Christian Platonism that prevailed during that period.

Setting of On A Drop Of Dew :

The poet, Andrew Marvell who was known for his wit and clever use of the poetic language, made his influence on the belief of the soul on a constant wait to be one with his creator. In the lines “scarce touching where it lies” and “gazing back upon the morning skies”, the restless nature of the dew portrays its minimal attachment to its comfortable resting place: the rose petals. Similarly, Marvell conveys that the restless soul awaits his reunion with the Almighty and shows disdain for all earthly pleasures.

Poetic Devices in On A Drop Of Dew:

                     line 15- “restless it rolls”
                     Line 17- “pity its pain”
                     Line 23- “shuns the sweet leaves”
                     Line 26- “greater heaven than heaven less”
                     Line 31- “dark beneath, but bright above”
                     Line 35- “moving but on a point below”
                     Line 37- “scared dew distil”
                     Line 38- “concealed and chill”
                     Line 39- “does, dissolving, run”
Line 14- “like its own tear”: The poet is comparing the dew to the tear of the soul.
Since the poem is metaphysical, it does not have much of similes and in itself is a comparison of the soul’s journey through a lifetime.
Personification/ Metaphor:
In the first two lines, the dew is said to have been shed from the bosom of the morning which denotes the skies.
In the third line, “the mansion new” is the personification of the earth. The “native element” mentioned here is the water, and the dew “scarcely touching” the petals is a metaphor in line 10. The drop and the ray mentioned in line 19 is another clear personification of the soul.
“The clear fountain of the day” in line 20 is the personification of the heavens. Line 37 to line 40 personify the soul’s union with the Almighty and its process of reuniting with the heavens.
The dew symbolizes the soul that awaits reunion with the Sun, symbolizing the Almighty. The skies are a symbol of heaven that the soul gazes about at while it’s sent to earth. The roses and the leaves are symbolized as the worldly pleasures that the dew so cautiously stays away from.

Style of On A Drop Of Dew :

         See how the orient dew’ (A)
         Shed from the bosom of the morn (B)
         Into the blowing roses, (C)
         Yet careless of its mansion new, (A)
         For the clear region where t’was born (B)
         Round in itself encloses: (C)

Summary of On A Drop Of Dew:

This poem written by the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell (1621- 78), expands on the Platonic Christian influence over philosophies that prevailed in that period. Marvell has enveloped the belief of the soul awaiting reunion with its Almighty through a personification of the dew to be the embodiment of the soul and the Sun to be that of God. The soul refuses comfort from all that the materialistic universe has to offer and instead awaits the time for it to be one with the heavens, which are personified by the skies. This entire metaphysical poem illustrates the journey and the duty of the soul disguised as the dew before it finally evaporates into the sky of the Almighty. The beauty of this metaphysical literature is its method of connecting the strong emotions of the dew to that of the soul to help the readers relate to the philosophy that Marvell wanted to share. The soul needs to be independent and self-sufficient like the dew that provides light for itself despite the presence of the green leaves and the cosy petals of the rose.

Critical Analysis of On A Drop Of Dew:

The poet describing the soul as a dew that drops down to earth from the skies, lands onto the earth and falls prey to all the worldly pleasures that crawl about on its surface. Marvell wants to preach his Platonic Christian philosophy about simply awaiting to reunite with God through the given lines in the poem. The dew’s actions of minimally attaching itself to the petal that it’s being placed upon and its trembling for the chances of it being impure are some of the few ideologies that we humans, like the soul, should adopt so as to rekindle our connection with God. Marvell’s words metaphysically embody the ideology of not being attached to the world’s materialistic offerings so as to remain pure and attain peace until it is the time to become one with the creator.

Central Idea of  On A Drop Of Dew :

The central idea of the poem includes the soul and the journey that it embarks on before it becomes one with its creator. Marvell tells us of how unhinged the soul can be of the earthly pleasures while it resides on earth before ascending above. In this process, Marvell also conveys the purpose of a soul, that is, to stay devoted to God throughout its journey over the earth.

Tone of On A Drop Of Dew :

The poem begins with the dew that is a metaphysical translation of the soul that descends onto the earth that is its mansion of earthly pleasures and luxurious comforts. In line 4, the poet describes how careless the dew is of its new environment that is the rose and meanwhile frames into its native element that is water in line 8. It scarcely touches the petals upon which it lies while it gazes above at the heavenly sky from where it had descended while it all metaphorically seems like a tear that is shed by the soul.
   In line 15, the dew is restless for its reunion and rolls around eagerly also in fear of growing impure from all the worldly attachments. The dew further refrains from collecting light from the green leaves, as mentioned in line 23, and recollects its own light instead.
  The intensity to unite with the heavens increases with each line as the dew observes that it is dark beneath with disdain while it is bright above in the skies with all the love that resides there. From line 37 onwards, the poet describes how the dew finally distills from the heat to dissolve and once again join the Almighty Sun as it leaves the earth behind it.


On A Drop of Dew by Andrew Marvell is a reflection of how life of the soul should be led. He asks of you to stay away from all the possessions that the materialistic world has to offer so as to happily reunite with the Almighty to attain the utmost peace and joy. The dew that is the embodiment of the soul is said to be trapped on the earth similar to the soul that is trapped within the body of the human. The poem is the ultimate journey and struggle that is to be faced before the soul eventually becomes one with its creator.
Contributor : Deeksha Honawar

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