Friday, 23 April 2010

‘Off to the English Civil War’ – Richard Lovelace

A bitter-sweet poem for the start of Anzac Weekend, of a husband going off to war …

‘Off to the English Civil War’

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

True, a new mistress now I serve
The first foe in the field
And with a sterner faith embrace
The sword, a horse, a shield.

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

– Richard Lovelace (1618-1657)


  1. Very moving.

    Just a small point though... I don't think Richard Lovelace lived his life over 161 years going backwards in time (!)

  2. Cramped in that Funnelled Hole

    Cramped in that funnelled hole, they watched the dawn
    Open a jagged rim around; a yawn
    Of death's jaws, which had all but swallowed them
    Stuck in the bottom of his throat of phlegm.

    They were in one of many mouths of Hell
    Not seen of seers in visions, only felt
    As teeth of traps; when bones and the dead are smelt
    Under the mud where long ago they fell
    Mixed with the sour sharp odour of the shell.

    Wilford Owen

  3. -The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner:

    From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
    And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
    Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
    I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
    When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

    -Randall Jarrell

  4. In Valor, There Is Hope


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