Tuesday 17 May 2011

Freedom in love

I love poetry as I love words. Poetry is language at its purest, the rise and fall of words, of assonance and of dissonance, the simple music that lies at the heart of expression. I can't write poetry, it's a talent beyond me, but I simply can't imagine life without it, I can't imagine not appreciating the beauty of the music of the spheres. To have no understanding or appreciation of poetry is, so far as I am concerned, to have lead in the soul.

I can still recite the poems I learned in early school, still be thrilled by those wonderful verses. There are so many poets I admire, both ancient and modern. There is no point in listing them all but Catullus, Virgil, Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare, Lovelace, Rochester Dryden, Pope, Keats, Swinburne, Christina Rossetti, Tennyson, Yeats, Rilke, Rupert Brooke, T. S Elliot, Stevie Smith and Philip Larkin all come high, though none higher than the sublime John Donne.

But it was Richard Lovelace that I was thinking of recently, the seventeenth century Cavalier poet, specifically of To Althea From Prison, one of the most moving poems ever written, a great tribute to love and to loyalty, the love of a man for a woman, the loyalty of a subject to his king. I find it impossible to say just how much these verses move me, particularly the last. If I have freedom in my love and in my soul am free, angels alone that sore above enjoy such liberty. Is there any finer sentiment than that? God bless your memory, Richard Lovelace, and God bless the memory of King Charles the Martyr.

When love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates;
And my divine ALTHEA brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lye tangled in her haire,
And fetterd to her eye,
The birds, that wanton in the aire,
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying THAMES,
Our carelesse heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty griefe in wine we steepe,
When healths and draughts go free,
Fishes, that tipple in the deepe,
Know no such libertie.

When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetnes, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King.
When I shall voyce aloud, how good
He is, how great should be,
Inlarged winds, that curle the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls doe not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Mindes innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedome in my love,
And in my soule am free,
Angels alone that sore above
Enjoy such liberty.


  1. Gothic horror to romantic poetry . . . bit of a mood swing!

    What's your take on HM's visit to Dublin?

  2. I love poetry too, and I also don't
    have the talent to write one.
    Have a wonderful day, Ana.

  3. I'm tired of love; I'm still more tired of rhyme ...

  4. Calvin, I love rapid gear shifts. Tonight I'm going to have fun at the expense of our beloved Archbishop of Canterbury. :-)

    Hmm...the Queen in Dublin; it's historic; it must be, all the papers here say so. I might say something else, something about some of the 'martyrs' she is honouring, but is there any point in spoiling such an 'historic' occasion? It's jolly decent that she will also be honouring Ireland's other dead, the 50,000 plus who lost their lives in the First World War, so long neglected in their own land.

  5. Harry, thanks. Is there any particular poetry that you like?

  6. Oh, Mark, please say it's not so. How can you possibly be tired of love? What is life without the rhymes of love? :-)

  7. I'm always ready to laugh at men in frocks - bring on the prelate!

  8. I shall. Calvin, do you tweet? I know it's probably too horribly trivial for you but it's possible to have some fun, especially at the expense of liberals and lefties. :-)

  9. Loved the poem, the video, and even more the post!
    You are truly a student of history! Well written with the right essence and emphasis!
    Poetry is just so amazing, isn't it?? I love writing poetry, even if they are just a set of words rhyming in vain..I need to go get all these gr9 poets' works, so as to improve my own..gr8 post!

  10. I love you, you sappy young romantic ;-)


  11. Ana, thanks for the poem and the fantastic Fairport Convention video.

  12. What were fifty-thousand diluted Irishmen doing fighting for the English? They should have been expelling the English from northern Ireland.

  13. I don't tweet, Ana. Not enough hours in the day as it is.

  14. Coll, I love you right back. :-)

  15. Michael, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

  16. Anthony, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom then and many of the people were loyal to the crown. The people of Northern Ireland, I think you will find, the Protestant majority, that is, are not English but British, many of them of Scots Presbyterian origin.

  17. Calvin, I feel sure that you have better things to do with your time. :-)

  18. Well then, expell the Scots who are subservient to the English.

  19. Anthony, I hardly think the Scots would see it like that! Besides the Protestants of Northern Ireland are neither Scots nor English - they are British in the purest sense. Their ancestors arrived in the province before the Pilgrim Fathers landed in America. Expel the one you might as well expel the other.

  20. Having just posted my latest poem about being loved within the care and company of angels, it's so nice to come here and read this beautiful poem and about your love of the works of the greats which I too marvel at:)

    How could we live without poetry in some form or other!

  21. I love the poem and the video clip, Ana.

    May I borrow them? A refusal will not offend, by the way. :)

  22. Dear Araminta, of course you may. :-)

  23. Thank you, Ana. You are most kind. :)

  24. I have re-blogged this on my blog, thanks to you dear Ana. A truly heartfelt and truthful poem.

  25. Ana:

    Your posts are brilliant, refreshing and long overdue

    Pray tell why can't everyone write like you?

    Twas the other day I remarked about a fight

    Then I realized "Ana is right."

    Thus I give thee the pen and applaud,

    Whatever you write, Ana, I can nothing but laud.

  26. Please excuse our president

    I no longer want to be a resident

    of a land that is sacked

    and in shame has racked

    a debt that is without honour.

    Long live the Queen.