Richard Lovelace (1618-1657)

To Althea From Prison

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 fetter’d to her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
      Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round
      With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses crown’d
      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 voice 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.


To Amarantha
That She Would Deshevel Her Hair

Amarantha, sweet and fair,
Ah, braid no more that shining hair!
As my curious hand or eye
Hovering round thee, let it fly!

Let it fly as unconfined
As its calm ravisher the wind,
Who hath left his darling East
To wanton o’er that spicy nest

Every tress must be confest,
But neatly tangled at the best;
Like a clue of golden thread
Most excellently ravelled

Do not, then, wind up that light
In ribbands, and o’ercloud in night,
Like the Sun in’s early ray;
But shake your head, and scatter day!


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,
      Loved I not honor more.