Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  348. To Althea, from Prison

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Richard Lovelace. 1618–1658

348. To Althea, from Prison

WHEN 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         5
  And fetter’d to her eye, 
The birds that wanton in the air 
  Know no such liberty. 
When flowing cups run swiftly round 
  With no allaying Thames,  10
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  15
  Know no such liberty. 
When, like committed linnets, I 
  With shriller throat shall sing 
The sweetness, mercy, majesty, 
  And glories of my King;  20
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,  25
  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,  30
Angels alone, that soar above, 
  Enjoy such liberty.