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Richard Lovelace

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English Literature

There is much to Richard Lovelace – not only did he have an education from both Oxford and Cambridge, but he also composed poetry written to entertain the reigning King of England. Alongside his appreciation for all the finer things in life, he spent his time writing texts that would be considered major contributions to the English literary canon. Read on to find out where he and other 'Cavalier poets' stand in the tradition of English Literature.

Richard Lovelace: Biography

Born on 9 December 1617, Richard Lovelace was one of eight Lovelace family children. As the son of Sir William Lovelace and Anne Barne Lovelace, he came from a family of means. Being landed gentry, Richard Lovelace was 11 when his family paid for him to attend the Sutton's Foundation at Charterhouse School. In 1631, he was given the honorary title 'Gentleman Wayter Extraordinary' to the reigning ruler at the time, King Charles I. It is perhaps because of this that he loyally served the King throughout his life.

By the time Richard Lovelace was 18 years old, he had already received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oxford. During his time at the university, Lovelace produced almost 200 poems and a play that was performed at his college. Afterwards, he went on to study at the University of Cambridge. It is at Cambridge that he met and went into the service of Lord Goring, after which his life was rife with political turmoil. It was this political trouble that often inspired some of his best work.

As a soldier in Lord Goring's regiment, Richard Lovelace fought in the Bishops' Wars and also stirred up trouble in the House of Commons in 1642, wherein he presented a pro-Royalist petition that should have been burned. It was his political activism that led to his imprisonment twice, once in 1642 and again in 1648. Upon his release, he learned of the execution of the King, which contributed to his composition of the volume of poems titled Lucasta (1649). Richard Lovelace, considered one of the greatest Cavalier poets, died in 1657 and two years after his death, his poetry was published by his brother, Dudley.

Cavalier poets refer to a group of poets that composed poetry in support of King Charles I.

The place of Richard Lovelace's birth is unknown, but it is speculated to be somewhere in Kent, Holland, or Woolwich

Richard Lovelace: Poems

In the following section, we will look at some of the famous poems written by Richard Lovelace and the circumstances that inspired them.

Richard Lovelace's 'To Lucasta, Going to the Warres' (1649)

Tell me not, (sweet,) I am unkinde, That from the nunnerieOf thy chaste breast and quiet minde To warre and armes I flie.True: a new Mistresse now I chase, The first foe in the field;And with a stronger faith imbrace 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.

Published in the Lucasta collection, this poem was written when Lovelace was serving in the regiment of Lord Goring and participating in the Bishops' Wars. Although it is possible, it is not known whether or not Lovelace intended to write the poem for a real woman. In the poem, the speaker addresses a woman called 'Lucasta' and expresses profound sadness at the thought of having to leave her and fight a war. This indicates that the poem was from a soldier's perspective and carries a note of chivalry and honour throughout. The poem brings out the theme of love pitted against duty, wherein the speaker argues that he would not be worthy of Lucasta's love if he did not fully commit to his duties in war.

Richard Lovelace's 'To Althea, from Prison' (1642)

When love with unconfined wings Hovers within my gates;And my divine Althea brings To whisper at the grates;When I lye tangled in her haire, And fetterd to her eye,The birds, that wanton in the aire, Know no such liberty.When flowing cups run swiftly roundWith no allaying Thames,Our carelesse heads with roses bound, Our hearts with loyal flames;When thirsty griefe in wine we steepe, When healths and draughts go free,Fishes, that tipple in the deepe, Know no such libertie.When, like committed linnets, I With shriller throat shall singThe sweetnes, mercy, majesty, And glories of my King.When I shall voyce aloud, how good He is, how great should be,Inlarged winds, that curle the flood, Know no such liberty.Stone walls doe not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage;Mindes innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage;If I have freedome in my love, And in my soule am free,Angels alone that sore above Enjoy such liberty.

Considered Richard Lovelace's most famous poem, 'To Althea, from Prison' was composed in 1642, during the time Lovelace was imprisoned in Gatehouse Prison near Westminster Abbey in London. In the poem, the speaker personifies 'Love' and imagines how Love delivers his beloved Althea to him in his prison. In his imagination, he touches her and hears her lovely voice, and they express their deep, passionate love for each other. In a dramatic change, the speaker then talks about a 'celebration' with his fellow prisoners, where he celebrates still being alive. He remarks that the prison does not feel like a prison to him, for he believes in his cause and that, as long as he has his love, nothing can imprison him. Freedom and love are the key themes of the poem.

The lines of the final stanza: 'Stone walls doe not a prison make, / Nor iron bars a cage;" is Richard Lovelace's most frequently quoted line. Why do you think this is? Do you relate to these lines? If not a stone wall, what truly makes a prison?

Richard Lovelace: other poems

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, other poems by Richard Lovelace include:

  • 'A Lady with a Falcon on her Fist. To The Honourable My Cousin Anne Lovelace'
  • 'A Fly About a Glass of Burnt Claret'
  • 'To Amarantha, That she Would Dishevel her Hair.'

Richard Lovelace's poems have a romantic undertone and often contain themes that hint at his dedication to King Charles I.

Richard Lovelace: a Cavalier poet

Richard Lovelace is one of the most famous Cavalier poets.

The school of Cavalier poets emerged in the 17th century during the reign of King Charles I, particularly during the English Civil War (1642-1651). King Charles I was a patron of a group of poets who produced the kind of poetry he enjoyed. In return for his patronage, and to celebrate their code of chivalry and loyalty towards the English monarchy, Cavalier poets supported King Charles I and his cause. In addition to Richard Lovelace, other Cavalier poets include Sir John Suckling, Robert Herrick, and Thomas Carew.

The term, 'Cavalier', refers to a mounted knight or soldier. Richard Lovelace served in the King's army in the Bishops' Wars. He also, as is typical of Cavalier poets, celebrated honour, loyalty, the monarchy, King Charles I and the life of a knight in his poems. Cavalier poets also wrote about the celebration of life and living it to its fullest, which involved a sense of joie de vivre, camaraderie with fellow men, and an appreciation of beauty (and beautiful women). These themes can often be identified in the poems by Richard Lovelace.

Richard Lovelace - Key takeaways

  • Richard Lovelace (1617–1657) is a Cavalier poet.
  • Richard Lovelace hailed from a wealthy family that owned a lot of property in Kent.
  • Richard Lovelace entered the service of King Charles I as 'Gentleman Wayter Extraordinary' in 1631.
  • Richard Lovelace attended the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, where he met Lord Goring.
  • Richard Lovelace served in Lord Goring's Regiment in the Bishops' Wars and experienced political troubles because of this.
  • Richard Lovelace was imprisoned twice, once in 1642 and then again in 1648.
  • Richard Lovelace is identified as a Cavalier poet.
  • Richard Lovelace's most famous poems include 'To Lucasta, Going to the Warres' and 'To Althea, From Prison.'

Richard Lovelace

Richard Lovelace was a Cavalier Poet.

Richard Lovelace is grouped with Cavalier Poets. They explicitly declared their support for King Charles I in the 17th century.

While Richard Lovelace's poems occasionally do include some characteristics of metaphysical poetry, he is largely identified as a Cavalier Poet and not a metaphysical poet.

The poem 'Scrutiny' by Richard Lovelace is about the speaker breaking the promise of commitment to his lover and insisting that he must seek other lovers.

Richard Lovelace lived in England. His family estate is in Kent. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge universities. He is buried in London.

Final Richard Lovelace Quiz

Question

Which school of poets does Richard Lovelace belong to?

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Answer

Cavalier poets

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Which of the following is NOT one of Richard Lovelace's poems?

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Answer

'La belle dame sans merci'

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Where did Richard Lovelace get educated?

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University of Oxford

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Which of the following is NOT a theme in Richard Lovelace's poems?

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Answer

Death

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Which of the following men did Richard Lovelace NOT serve?

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Oliver Cromwell

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Which of the following was not a title or occupation of Richard Lovelace?

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Duke of Canterbury

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In which of the following years was Richard Lovelace NOT imprisoned?

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1631

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Which of the following institutes did Richard Lovelace NOT attend?

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University of London

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Which of the following themes did Cavalier poets touch upon?

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Celebration of life

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Which of the following is a collection of poetry composed by Richard Lovelace?

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'Lucasta'

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When was the poem 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars' published?

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1649

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What type of a poem is 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'?

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Cavalier poetry

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What is the tone of the poem?

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Persuasive

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Which of the following is NOT a theme of 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'?

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Marriage

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What figure of speech is used to illustrate Lucasta's absence from the poem?

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Apostrophe

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What is the rhyme scheme of the poem 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'?

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ABAB

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In which lines can the paradox in 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars' be found?

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Answer

The last two lines of stanza 3

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Which metric foot is NOT found in the first line of 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'?

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Pyrrhic foot

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Which of the following sets of alliteration are NOT found in 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'?

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Blood-Battle

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Which of the following metrical lines is found in 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'?

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Trimeter

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When was the poem 'Scrutiny' by Richard Lovelace written?

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1642

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What kind of a poem is 'Scrutiny'?

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Cavalier poem

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Which of the following meter is NOT present in the poem 'Scrutiny'?

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Iambic pentameter

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Which of the following imagery is prominent in the poem 'Scrutiny'?

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Pastoral landscape

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How would you describe the tone of the poem 'Scrutiny'?

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Light hearted

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Which of the following is NOT a theme of the poem 'Scrutiny'?

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Disease

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What is the rhyme scheme of the poem 'Scrutiny'?

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ABABB

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The poem 'Scrutiny' reads as a...?

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Dramatic monologue

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Which of the following alliterative pairs is present in the poem 'Scrutiny'?

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Tedious - twelve

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The poem 'Scrutiny' consists of 4 stanzas on 5 lines. These are called?

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Cinquain

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