Richard Lovelace & Andrew Marvell


Richard Lovelace's Biography

(1618-1657), was a member of a group of English lyric poets called the Cavalier poets. These poets emphasized ideals of love, beauty, and honor. Lovelace is known chiefly for a few famous lines. "Stone walls do not a prison make,/Nor iron bars a cage" comes from the poem "To Althea, from Prison" (1642). "I could not love thee, dear, so much,/Loved I not honor more" appears in the poem "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars" (1648).
Lovelace was born either in Woolwich or in the Netherlands. He was educated at Oxford University. Lovelace served as a soldier in the army of King Charles I. He was imprisoned twice during the civil war that broke out in 1642. He wrote his two famous poems in prison. Lovelace lost his estate while he was serving the king, and he died in poverty.

Lovelace's "To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars"

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov'd I not Honour more.

"To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars"
Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. Who is the IInew mistress" the speaker is chasing? Why might the poet have chosen to compare this new love to his love for Lucasta?
2. What three things does the speaker "with a stronger faith embrace',? What does his loyalty to these things suggest about his values?
3. What is the inconstancy to which the speaker refers in line 9? What reason does he give Lucasta to adore "this inconstancy"?

Evaluate and Connect
4. Refer to your list from the Reading Focus on page 450. How do your reasons for going to war compare with those given in the poem?

Lovelace's "To Althea, from Prison"

When Love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fetter'd 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,
Enlarged 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.

"To Althea, from Prison"
Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. Each of the first three stanzas begins with a description of an occasion associated with freedom. What are these occasions? Why do some think these occasions might make the speaker feel free?
2. In what way are the images at the end of each stanza similar? (See literary Terms Handbook, page R8.)
3. Sum up the speaker's attitude about imprisonment. What are the only freedoms the speaker claims to need?

Evaluate and Connect
4. What freedoms do you value most? Could being imprisoned deprive you of any of these freedoms? Explain your answer.

Andrew Marvell's Biography

162178, one of the English metaphysical poets. Educated at Cambridge, he worked as a clerk, traveled abroad, and returned to serve as tutor to Lord Fairfax's daughter in Yorkshire. In 1657 he was appointed John Milton's assistant in the Latin secretaryship, and in 1659 he was elected to Parliament, where he served until his death. He was one of the chief wits and satirists of his time as well as being a Puritan and a public defender of individual liberty. Today, however, he is known chiefly for his brilliant lyric poetry, which includes "The Garden," "The Definition of Love," "Bermudas," and "To His Coy Mistress," and for his "Horatian Ode" to Cromwell.

Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress"

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Discussion Questions for "To His Coy Mistress"

Recall and Interpret
1. According to the speaker, what is his sweetheart's crime? Why do you think he regards this as a crime?
2. What are some of the things the speaker claims he would do if he had unlimited time? How do these claims help the speaker's argument?
3. What image of time does the speaker present in lines 21-22? What do you think he means to suggest with this image?
4. Summarize the recommendations the speaker makes in the last stanza. How will he and his beloved make the sun "run'?

Evaluate and Connect
5. Summarize the three main parts of the speaker's argument. (See page R2.) In your opinion, is this a convincing argument? Why or why not?
6. Evaluate Marvell's use of similes and metaphors. How do they enhance the speaker's message? (See pages R9 and R14.)
7. What would you advise the coy mistress to do? Why?
8. Read over the list you made for the Reading Focus on page 455. How do your persuasive phrases compare with the speaker's? Would you use any of the speaker's tactics to persuade someone?