To Althea, from Prison

By Richard Lovelace 1618–1657 Richard Lovelace
When Love with unconfinèd wings
   Hovers within my Gates,
And my divine Althea brings
   To whisper at the Grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
   And fettered to her eye,
The Gods that wanton in the Air,
   Know no such Liberty.

When flowing Cups run swiftly round
   With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with Roses bound,
   Our hearts with Loyal Flames;
When thirsty grief in Wine we steep,
   When Healths and draughts go free,
Fishes that tipple in the Deep
   Know no such Liberty.

When (like committed linnets) I
   With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty,
   And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
   He is, how Great should be,
Enlargèd Winds, that curl the Flood,
   Know no such Liberty.

Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
   Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
   That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
   And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
   Enjoy such Liberty.

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Poet Richard Lovelace 1618–1657

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Crime & Punishment, Love, Social Commentaries, Relationships, Romantic Love, Infatuation & Crushes

Poetic Terms Common Measure

 Richard  Lovelace

Biography

Like the other Cavalier poets of 17th-century England, Richard Lovelace lived a legendary life as a soldier, lover, and courtier. Persecuted for his unflagging support of King Charles I, he died in dire poverty — but not before writing two of the age’s most melodic and moving lyrics: “To Althea, from Prison” and “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars.”

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Crime & Punishment, Love, Social Commentaries, Relationships, Romantic Love, Infatuation & Crushes

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Common Measure

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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