In the 17th century Britain a ’new wave’ of poets emerged, the one that would later be labelled the metaphysical poets. They had a very unique style that is very energetic, paradoxical, often enough to completely boggle the reader, and in a way entertaining for the way they hid their real point at times. How many times have we thought of them innocent, often thinking them to be saints and such? Certainly, in a way they are, but to enjoy reading them we have to be fully aware of the possible peiorativeness of their poems. But it’s not the only thing they wrote about. They also criticized the society although less likely. In my contrastive analysis I chose to analyse Richard Lovelace’s works, and make an attempt to assess what he was.
Richard Lovelace’s personality is just as unique as his works are. He was a royalist until death, and while others preferred ’liberty and freedom’, the Parliament, Lovelace still remained a royalist. He also had a military career, seemingly his love, Lucasta, was the general. Knowing that the army always made friendships, or even better brethrenships, ’trust laid’ in the neighbouring infantrymen, and the general was of the main concern. Going as far as that, we may be insisted that Lovelace was in fact homosexual to some extent.
Whatever the case is, he certainly had his own way to hide sexual meanings in his poems, that only a reader who is aware that renaissance poetry is never to be taken seriously, or at least not so seriously.
That’s most striking in his poem To Lucasta. The Rose. While the poem is about a couple, possibly a married one ,having a sexual intercourse,we might even think that the participants might be homosexual. Although the poem is about a woman giving a fellatio to someone, the two last lines are provided with ambiguity. Having a closer look at the last stanza we can find traces of what the poem is about.
But early as she dresses,
Why fly you her bright Tresses ?
Ah ! I have found I feare ;
Because her Cheekes are neere.
We can very easily identify that ’fly’ takes the second person plural pronoun ’you’. This indicates that whatever flies ’her bright Tresses’ is more than one. But Lovelace also gives away his position regarding this. The part of line three ’I have found I feare’ is something clearly ambiguous. Given that in that time the character for ’f’ and ’s’ were similar, especially in word initial position the last word can be both read as ’ I feare’ and ’I seare’. In this case he burns, and withers, like touched by the Fires of Death and Love at the same time. This , in the case of ’seare’, is possibly after or even during the ejaculation, as like the rose it withers, losing ’water’ and shrinking.
There are further details, that reinforce this interpretation of the poem, and interestingly proving even more grotesque elements. The third stanza, given the data provided before, is just a fatal blow to the morally more concerned reader.