Richard Lovelace

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Richard Lovelace

Birthdate: (40)
Birthplace: Lovelace Place, Bethersden, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Death: Died in London, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir William Lovelace, of Woolrich and Anne Browne
Brother of Anne Gorsuch; Thomas Lovelace; Francis Lovelace; Joanna (Johanna) Lovelace; Elizabeth Lovelace and 2 others

Occupation: Richard Lovelace was an English Nobleman and poet. His "Lucasta" poems brought him fame., English poet, a country gentleman and a justice of the peace
Managed by: Ron Green Jr
Last Updated:

About Richard Lovelace

Richard Lovelace was an English poet in the seventeenth century. He was the oldest son of Sir William Lovelace and Anne Barne Lovelace and had four brothers and three sisters. His father was from an old distinguished military and legal family. The Lovelace’s owned a considerable amount of property in Kent. Unfortunately, Richard Lovelace’s father died during the siege of Grol when he was only nine years old. In 1629, when Lovelace was eleven, he went to Sutton’s Foundation at Charterhouse . Charterhouse was a school in London. However, there is not a clear record that Lovelace actually attended because it is believed that he studied as a “boarder” because he did not need financial assistance like the “scholars” . He spent five years at Charterhouse, three of which were spent with Richard Crashaw, who also became a poet. On 5 May 1631, Lovelace was sworn in as a “Gentleman Wayter Extraordinary” to the King. This was an “honorary position for which one paid a fee” . He then went on to Gloucester Hall, Oxford in 1634.

Lovelace’s poetry was often influenced by his experiences with politics and association with important figures of his time. At the age of thirteen, Lovelace became a “Gentlemen Wayter Extraordinary” to the King and at nineteen he contributed a verse to a volume of elegies commemorating Princess Katharine. In 1639 Lovelace joined the regiment of Lord Goring, serving first as a senior ensign and later as a captain in the Bishops’ Wars. This experience inspired the “Sonnet. To Generall Goring.” Upon his return to his home in Kent in 1640, Lovelace served as a country gentleman and a justice of the peace where he encountered firsthand the civil turmoil regarding religion and politics.

In 1641 Lovelace led a group of men to seize and destroy a petition for the abolition of Episcopal rule, which had been signed by fifteen thousand people. The following year he presented the House of Commons with Dering’s pro-Royalist petition which was supposed to have been burned. These actions resulted in Lovelace’s first imprisonment. Shortly thereafter, he was released on bail with the stipulation that he avoid communication with the House of Commons without permission. This prevented Lovelace, who had done everything to prove himself during the Bishops’ Wars, from participating in the first phase of the English Civil War. However, this first experience of imprisonment did result in some good, as it brought him to write one of his finest and most beloved lyrics, “To Althea, from Prison,” in which he illustrates his noble and paradoxical nature. Lovelace did everything he could to remain in the king’s favor despite his inability to participate in the war.

Richard Lovelace did his part again during the political chaos of 1648, though it is unclear specifically what his actions were. He did, however, manage to warrant himself another prison sentence; this time for nearly a year. When he was released in April of 1649, the king had been executed and Lovelace’s cause seemed lost. As in his previous incarceration, this experience led to creative production—this time in the form of spiritual freedom, as reflected in the release of his first volume of poetry, Lucasta.

During his first imprisonment in 1642, he wrote his most famous poem "To Althea, From Prison." Later on that year during his travels to Holland with General Goring, he writes "The Rose," following with "The Scrutiny" and on 14 May 1649, Lucasta is published. He also wrote poems analyzing the details of many simple insects. "The Ant," "The Grasse-hopper," "The Snayl,""The Falcon," "The Toad and Spyder." Of these poems, "The Grasse-hopper" is his most well-known. In 1660, after Lovelace died, the Lucasta: Postume Poems is published containing "A Mock-Song," which had a much darker tone than his previous works.

To Althea, From Prison

By Richard Lovelace

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 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 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,

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.

The walls and iron bars that surround me cannot imprison me,

for my mind remains free. Because I am innocent of wrongdoing,

I regard prison as a hermitage, a retreat where I can concentrate

on what matters to me–my love for Althea and the principles by

Richard Lovelace (1618–1659) was an English poet and nobleman, born in Lovelace Place, Bethersden , Kent. He was one of the Cavalier poets, and a noted royalist. The "Lucasta" to whom he dedicated much of his verse was Lucy Sacheverell, whom he often called Lux Casta. Unfortunately, she mistakenly believed that he died at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1646 and so married another. He was imprisoned briefly in 1648 for supporting the Royalists during the time of Oliver Cromwell. During this period he spent his fortune to help supply Royalist forces, and died in penury shortly thereafter. His brother then published his poetry posthumously.

His most quoted excerpts are from the beginning of the last stanza of To Althea, From Prison:

   Stone walls do not a prison make,
   Nor iron bars a cage;
   Minds innocent and quiet take
   That for an hermitage

and the end of To Lucasta. Going to the Warres:

   I could not love thee, dear, so much,
   Lov'd I not Honour more. 
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Richard Lovelace is Dorothy Willard's 9th great uncle.

Dorothy Willard (Duncan)-John Henry Duncan, Dorothy’s father-Emma Whitman, John Henry’s mother- Mary Jane Stodghill, Emma’s mother- Joel Stodghill, Mary’s father- Durette Stodghill, Joel’s father- Joel Stodghill, Durette’s father- James Stodghill, Joel’s father- Ann Madison, James’ mother- Isabella Minor Todd, Ann’s mother- Anne Gorsuch, Isabella’s mother- Anne Lovelace, Anne Gorsuch’s mother- William Lovelace, Anne Lovelace’s father- Richard Lovelace, William Lovelace’s son and Anne Lovelace’s brother.

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Richard Lovelace's Timeline

December 6, 1617
Bethersden, Kent, England, United Kingdom
April 1658
Age 40
London, England, United Kingdom