Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Song: To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

by Richard Lovelace

Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
To war and arms I fly.

True; a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honour more.

* * *

I've heard some objections to this poem. Some people say the last two lines are totally wrong--how could anyone love honor more than a real person? I say it depends on your definition of honor. If Lovelace just means he wants to be honored by others, than he is wrong to think that way. But if he means doing the honorable thing, he's absolutely right. Because how could he presume to offer himself to Lucasta if he wasn't willing to do his duty first? He wouldn't be worthy of her unless he was.

Chesterton's reply to this poem next ...

1 comment:

√Čamonn said...

I always loved the last two lines of this but had never read the whole thing. Thanks for posting it.