"Greet As Angels Greet"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Since the Puritans did not approve of poetry, much of the verse of the seventeenth century was written by men of the king's party. These Cavalier Poets wrote gay, clever, but superficial poems, in which they paid court to sweethearts or boasted of their own triumphs. After Robert Herrick (1591–1674), the best of the group were Sir John Suckling (1609–1642), Richard Lovelace, and others. Lovelace was renowned for his physical beauty as well as for his loyalty to Charles I. For carrying to Parliament a protest in favor of his monarch, he was imprisoned in 1648, where he wrote his celebrated "To Althea from Prison." From prison he also published his verses in a volume called Lucasta. In it appeared the well-known "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars." It was formerly believed that the lady Lucy Sacheverell, concealed behind her poetic name "Lux casta" (Chaste Light), inspired these poems. "To Lucasta, Going Beyond the Seas," was written as Lovelace was about to depart for France, in 1646, to serve with Louis XIV. The lines seemed prophetic, for–so it was thought–hearing he had died at Dunkirk fighting, the "Chaste Lucy" quickly married his rival and probably never thought of him again until they met, as he foresaw, in heaven as disembodied spirits. More modern scholars, however, feel that a member of the family of Sir Charles Lucas was the lady to whom the poems were addressed. These are the last two stanzas.

Though seas and land betwixt us both,
Our faith and troth,
Like separated souls,
All time and space controls;
Above the highest sphere we meet,
Unseen, unknown, and greet as angels greet.
So then we do anticipate
Our after fate,
And are alive in the skies,
If thus our lips and eyes
Can speak like spirits unconfined
In heaven, their earthly bodies left behind.