I'm struggling to understand Lucy Hutchinson's poem "all sorts of men" in relation to her "political retreat." She states that "private lives are free of care" and that "this freedom in the country...

I'm struggling to understand Lucy Hutchinson's poem "all sorts of men" in relation to her "political retreat." She states that "private lives are free of care" and that "this freedom in the country life is found"--freedom from what exactly?

I really need a clarification of the political assertions in this poem and how this is a voicing of her political beliefs. 

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lucy Hutchinson (1620-1681) was a poet, translator, and writer who was married to Colonel John Hutchinson, who signed the warrant sentencing King Charles I of Great Britain to death. Colonel Hutchinson was later opposed to Oliver Cromwell, who ruled during what is referred to as the Commonwealth in the 1650s. She and her husband originally supported the Puritan leadership of Great Britain but then turned against them. During this time, Hutchinson retired to Owthorpe, their country estate in Nottinghamshire.

According to Knoppers (see the source below), Lucy Hutchinson wrote this poem as a statement about  her husband's "withdrawal from a corrupt court" (page 681). Lucy Hutchinson's Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson describe her husband's retreat from Cromwell's court to their estate at Owthorpe. Her poem begins, "All sorts of men through various labours press /To the same end, contented quietness." That is, people from all walks of life want contentment and peace. However, she describes the court as too corrupt for this type of peace. She writes, "These none of them attain: for sweet repose /But seldom to the splendid palace goes." In other words, men who work in the palace and in politics, particularly during Cromwell's Commonwealth, could not attain peace the way that people who live in the country do.

Hutchinson describes the country life as the true life of peace. She writes, "This freedom in the country life is found, Where innocence and safe delights abound." She believes that life at court can never rival the peace of country life. Country life is free from endless intrigue and from unending greed. Her poem is about the purity of country life and the tainted nature of the court under Cromwell. 

Source:

Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution edited by Laura Lunger Knoppers.