A Poem by Richard Lovelace
A Study Guide
Study Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...© 2010
Type of Work, Publication
......."To Lucasta, going to the Wars" is a lyric poem in which a young man explains to his beloved why he must leave her to go to war. It was first published in 1649 in To Lucasta, a collection of Lovelace's poems.
.......Richard Lovelace (1618-1657) was a dashing, handsome, well-educated English gentleman who, as a soldier and poet, strongly defended Britain's King Charles I during the Bishops' Wars in Scotland (1639-1640) and the English Civil Wars (1642-1651). Lovelace held inherited estates in Kent and freely used his personal resources to support the king's causes. He became famous as one of the cavalier poets, who were refined, cultured, fashionably dressed gentlemen—the very definition of cavalier..
.......The identity of the woman to whom Lovelace addresses the poem is uncertain; she may even have been a product of Lovelace's imagination. However, evidence suggests she was Lucy Sacheverell, whom he sometimes called by the Latin name Lux Casta. Lux, a noun, means light; casta, an adjective, means chaste, moral, virtuous, pure, sacred. Thus, Lux Casta may be translated as Pure Light or Sacred Light.
.......The theme of the poem is the importance of honor and duty. The speaker asks his beloved not to think harshly of him for leaving her side to go to war. He could not love her as much as he does, he says, if he dishonored himself by failing to answer the call to duty.
.......The speaker—like many other young men of his age or any age—is eager for a little derring-do to prove his mettle. But he is worried that his love will think less of him if he leaves her side. The theme, then, is that a man sometimes must sweet-talk his beloved in order to get his way.
.......In each stanza the first line rhymes with the third and the second with the fourth.
Examples of rhyming sounds within are the following:
Line 1:...Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,Tone
Figures of Speech
.......Following are examples of figures of speech in the poem.
Line 5:..a new mistress now I chaseAnaphora
Line 8: A sword, a horse, a shieldMetaphor
Lines 2-3: That from the nunneryStudy Questions and Writing Topics
1. Write a short poem centering on honor or duty.