Richard Lovelace

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Could you explain the third stanza of "To Althea, from Prison" by Richard Lovelace?

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.

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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.

The first four lines of stanza 3 speak of occasions when Lovelace expresses his devotion to Charles I, his beloved King. Lovelace was imprisoned in 1642 at the outbreak of the religiously motivated Civil War against King Charles I. Lovelace had spoken out on Charles's behalf in Parliament thus winning the enmity of the Puritan "Roundhead" rebels. It was from prison that Lovelace wrote this lyric poem letter to his beloved.

In these opening lines, Lovelace compares his expressions of devotion to King Charles I (who was later beheaded by order of Cromwell), through the poetic device of a simile, to the songs of linnets. Linnets are finches of the Old World, as European birds are classified, and are small brown song birds. In other words, Lovelace says his praise of Charles is the song of the forest birds (I've traded Lovelace's simile for a metaphor!).

When (like committed linnets) I     
   With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty,
   And glories of my King;

Lines 5 and 6 reiterate his mention of occasions when he shall speak "aloud" of Charles's goodness and greatness.

When I shall voice aloud how good
   He is, how Great should be,

In the final two lines of this iambic octave stanza, with alternating tetrameter and trimeter, Lovelace provides the analogy that expresses how much liberty is generated in his experience by these praises. He says that unfettered (i.e., unbound) enraged storm winds that sweep across the ocean and rampage over the waves know not the liberty that he experiences. In other words, when praising King Charles like song birds in a forest singing of how good and great the King is, Lovelace has more freedom and liberty than the liberated raging ocean wind.     

When I shall voice aloud how good
   He is, how Great should be,
Enlargèd Winds, that curl the Flood,
   Know no such Liberty.

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Please explain the fourth stanza from "To Althea, from Prison" by Richard Lovelace.To Althea, from PrisonBy Richard LovelaceWhen Love with unconfinèd wings   Hovers within my Gates,And my divine Althea brings   To whisper at the Grates;When I lie tangled in her hair,   And fettered to her eye,The Gods 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 singThe 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.

A courtier of King Charles I, Lovelace, this Cavalier poet, wrote this famous and oft quoted stanza describing what can not bind freedom and offering an analogy showing what can experience freedom the way he experiences it, the way he knows it. In order to understand the fourth stanza, we have to see it in relationship to the others.

The first three stanzas describe three instances when Lovelace knows unbounded freedom. This is a freedom, a "liberty," that is not rivaled by the freedom of gods of the air,  not known by fish in the deep sea, not felt by storm winds that toss the sea waves.

The Gods that wanton in the Air,
   Know no such Liberty.
[...]
Fishes that tipple in the Deep
   Know no such Liberty.
[...]
Enlargèd Winds, that curl the Flood,
   Know no such Liberty.

The fourth stanza turns and gives the paradoxical counterpoint to the three stanzas going before. In the fourth, instead of saying where he knows and experiences freedom and liberty, as before, Lovelace says, instead, what he will not recognize as a prison; what he will not recognize as a captivity that subdues and robs his liberty.

Lovelace famously says that walls do not rob freedom, do not rob liberty; that iron bars do not bind liberty; and that innocent minds are not harmed by walls and bars. He then summarizes the meaning of the first three stanzas and states that (1) innocence sees imprisoning chains and bars as a religious "Hermitage," a place where divine love is contemplated; (2) that he has freedom in the love he speaks of; (3) that in his hermitage of iron and stone, his soul is free.

The ending analogy states that only Angels "that soar" in the heavens, far above mortal walls and iron bars, know the freedom and liberty he knows. The fourth stanza thus speaks of true liberty and gives comfort to Lovelace's beloved from whom he is separated.

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. 

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Please explain in detail the second stanza of "To Althea, from Prison" by Richard Lovelace.To Althea, from PrisonBy Richard LovelaceWhen Love with unconfinèd wings      Hovers within my Gates,And my divine Althea brings   To whisper at the Grates;When I lie tangled in her hair,   And fettered to her eye,The Gods 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 singThe 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.

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.

Stanza 2 is a little difficult to understand because of the obscure language in lines 1 and 2. Some understand "flowing Cups" that "run swiftly round" as a reference to fish in the Thames river. This is because of (1) the line 2 reference to the Thames and (2) the lines 7 and 8 reference to fish. Yet, none of the other 3 stanzas use allusions that are so obscure; others are easier to recognize, e.g., "unconfinèd wings" of love; "like committed linnets";  "Walls do not a Prison make." Therefore it makes sense that "flowing Cups" is an equally recognizable allusion (i.e., reference to a known concept).

A more logical way to understand the phrase is in light of the standard metonymy in which "flowing Cups" stands for energetic wine drinking. This idea is supported by the line 5 reference to "Wine" and by the subsequent allusions to toasts ("draughts") and to non-alcohol-drinking fish ("tipple"). The line 2 allusion to water, "Thames," is a complicated allusion as the Thames is called the "no allaying Thames." To "allay" means to reduce the intensity of; to diminish or calm. Thus, in reference to wine cups in which wine continually flows, "With no allaying Thames" means the flowing wine is not deintensified by being mixed with water.

When flowing Cups run swiftly round    
   With no allaying Thames,

Lines 3 and 4 describe the state of the drinkers included in "our." They have their heads joyously "bound" in celebratory roses; they have their hearts ignited in loyalty by "Loyal Flames." Though not stated, it may be inferred that they are drinking toasts of celebration and love to King Charles I, to whom their hearts are ever "Loyal" and the grief for whom they have momentarily set aside.  

Our careless heads with Roses bound,
   Our hearts with Loyal Flames;

Lines 5 and 6 carry this further and describe how they disregard "griefs" and change grief for freely given toasts to each others' health.  Lines 7 and 8 provide the comparison, in the form of an analogy, that describes how much freedom, or "liberty," this celebration provides the partakers. Lovelace says that not even "fishes" who swim without restraint in the sea know the kind of liberty these have who engage together where "flowing Cups run swiftly round" and who have "careless heads with Roses bound"; (in this usage, "careless" means without care, worry, or "grief.")

Fishes that tipple in the Deep
   Know no such Liberty.

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