Authors: Richard Lovelace

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet

Author Works


Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c. to Which Is Added Aramantha, a Pastorall, 1649

Lucasta: Posthume Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq., 1659

The Poems of Richard Lovelace, 1925 (2 volumes; C. H. Wilkinson, editor)


The Scholar(s), pr. 1636(?)

The Soldier, wr. 1640


In both his art and life Richard Lovelace played the role of the perfect courtier grandly. During the Parliamentary Wars both he and his family served King Charles I. A favorite of Queen Henrietta, Lovelace learned all the courtly graces, and in his poetry, as much as in his dress, he followed the elegant fashions of the time.{$I[AN]9810000477}{$I[A]Lovelace, Richard}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Lovelace, Richard}{$I[tim]1618;Lovelace, Richard}

Of a noble family, Lovelace took his honorary degree from Oxford University at age eighteen before he went to the court in London. He fought as a cavalier for the king during the Bishop’s Wars of 1639 and 1640. Having then petitioned in Commons for the king, Lovelace was imprisoned in 1642. While in prison he wrote his famous lyric “To Althea, from Prison.” He was soon released but was required to remain in London for the duration of the Parliamentary Wars and was prohibited from taking any action in favor of the royalist cause.

After the defeat of the king it is believed that Lovelace went to France and was wounded at the siege of Dunkerque in 1646, returning to England in 1648. Imprisoned again, this time for a period of ten months, he collected and published a volume of his poems, Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c. to Which Is Added Aramantha, a Pastorall in 1649. Having spent his fortune in the king’s cause, he lived the rest of his life dependent on the generosity of his friends. After his death, his brother Dudley collected his literary remains and published them in Lucasta: Posthume Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq. Apart from a few excellent lyrics, Lovelace’s poetry has the extravagance of that of John Donne without his wit or synthesizing powers. While his small body of poetic works may appear contrived to the modern reader, Lovelace’s poetry is well made, carefully controlled, metrically perfect, and rhetorical in the best cavalier manner.

BibliographyAllen, Don Cameron. “Richard Lovelace: ‘The Grass-Hopper.’” In Seventeenth-Century English Poetry: Modern Essays in Criticism, edited by William R. Keast. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962. Examines the rich tradition embodied in the image of the grasshopper, at once the spend-thrift, the poet-singer, and the king. Concludes that the indestructible kingdom created at the end of the poem is an inner one created by the poem.Marcus, Leah S. The Politics of Mirth: Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Couples Lovelace and Andrew Marvell, contemporaries whose poetry concerned cultural survival, and finds Lucasta a treasury of cavalier political beliefs that Marvell later modified in his own poetry. Marcus accords only one of Lovelace’s poems, “The Grasshopper,” an in-depth analysis, but that discussion is followed by a treatment of Marvell’s Mower poems, which rewrite Lovelace’s original poem.Semler, L. E. The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998. Offers an introduction to the parallel history of the Mannerist poets and artists with specific attention to Richard Lovelace among others. Includes bibliographic references and an index.Wedgwood, C. V. Poetry and Politics Under the Stuarts. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1961. Wedgwood traces the disintegration of the defeated Cavaliers through her reading of Lovelace’s famous “To Althea, from Prison,” a poem that prompted many imitations by other Cavalier poets.
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