Poetry Corner: Cavalier Edition

Richard Lovelace (1618-57) is best known for his “To Althea, from Prison” (“Stone walls do not a prison make,/ Nor iron bars a cage”) and “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” (“I could not love thee dear, so much/ Loved I not honor more”). This lesser known work was written in the prospect of the Protectorate and Puritan rule, which meant the suppression of Lovelace’s way of life — he died in poverty. It may provide consolation of a sort for those of us in the current Remnant.

The Grasshopper

by Richard Lovelace

To My Noble Friend, Mr. Charles Cotton

To My Noble Friend, Mr. Charles Cotton

O thou that swing’st upon the waving hair

Of some well-fillèd oaten beard,

Drunk every night with a delicious tear

Dropped thee from heaven, where now th’ art reared;

The joys of earth and air are thine entire,

That with thy feet and wings dost hop and fly;

And, when thy poppy works, thou dost retire

To thy carved acorn-bed to lie.

Up with the day, the sun thou welcom’st then,

Sport’st in the gilt-plats of his beams,

And all these merry days mak’st merry men,

Thyself, and melancholy streams.

But ah, the sickle! Golden ears are cropped;

Ceres and Bacchus bid good night;

Sharp, frosty fingers all your flowers have topped,

And what scythes spared, winds shave off quite.

Poor verdant fool, and now green ice! thy joys,

Large and as lasting as thy perch of grass,

Bid us lay in ’gainst winter rain, and poise

Their floods with an o’erflowing glass.

Thou best of men and friends! we will create

A genuine summer in each other’s breast,

And spite of this cold time and frozen fate,

Thaw us a warm seat to our rest.

Our sacred hearths shall burn eternally,

As vestal flames; the North Wind, he

Shall strike his frost-stretched wings, dissolve, and fly

This Etna in epitome.

Dropping December shall come weeping in,

Bewail th’usurping of his reign:

But when in showers of old Greek we begin,

Shall cry he hath his crown again!

Night, as clear Hesper, shall our tapers whip

From the light casements where we play,

And the dark hag from her black mantle strip,

And stick there everlasting day.

Thus richer than untempted kings are we,

That, asking nothing, nothing need:

Though lords of all what seas embrace, yet he

That wants himself is poor indeed.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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One Response to Poetry Corner: Cavalier Edition

  1. Withywindle says:

    Yes, this I can tell
    That all will be well
    When the King enjoys his own again

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