Document Type


Article Version

Publisher's PDF

Publication Date

Winter 2015


This essay recovers the cultural and historical significance of Baltic amber and introduces a new, untragic model of female subjectivity and trauma in Andrew Marvell’s “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn.” Given amber’s impact in European economic history, I argue that its Ovidian origin in the Heliades’ tears is significant, for these trees ironically create a superior, imperishable resin that exceeds that of healthy, nonweeping trees. Renaissance poets who refer to the Heliades’ amber tears expand our understanding of the period’s configurations of mourning by validating symptoms of trauma often seen as unnatural or pathological.


Copyright 2015 Rice University

Publication Title

SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

Published Citation

Kelley, Shannon. "Amber, the Heliades, and the Poetics of Trauma in Marvell's 'The Nymph Complaining'." SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 55.1 (2015): 151-174. DOI: 10.1353/sel.2015.0005



Peer Reviewed