To Althea, from Prison

Original Text: 
Richard Lovelace, Lucasta (1649). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1972. PR 3542 L2 1649A ROBA.
2      Hovers within my gates,
3And my divine Althea brings
4      To whisper at the grates;
5When I lie tangled in her hair,
6      And fetter'd to her eye,
7The gods, that wanton in the air,
8      Know no such liberty.
9When flowing cups run swiftly round
11Our careless heads with roses bound,
12      Our hearts with loyal flames;
13When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
14      When healths and draughts go free,
15Fishes, that tipple in the deep,
16      Know no such liberty.
18      With shriller throat shall sing
19The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
20      And glories of my king;
21When I shall voice aloud how good
22      He is, how great should be,
23Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
24      Know no such liberty.
25Stone walls do not a prison make,
26      Nor iron bars a cage;
27Minds innocent and quiet take
28      That for an hermitage;
29If I have freedom in my love,
30      And in my soul am free,
31Angels alone that soar above,
32      Enjoy such liberty.


1] Although recently questioned, it is probable that this was written in prison in 1642, Lovelace having been committed to the Gatehouse at Westminster for presenting the Kentish petition against proposed Parliamentary measures. Back to Line
10] Thames: i.e., water. Back to Line
17] committed: imprisoned. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.347-48.