A Book of Answers IV: Mr Richard Lovelace And His Lucasta


This charming poem has suffered from being taken too seriously by many readers who have missed its delicate parody of the courtly love conventions. It is plainly meant to make Lucasta laugh away her tears and remonstrances: but if she laughed, as a girl of spirit she might well have been tempted to reply in kind. Answers to poems were a diversion of the age, and a Mr Henry Ventrice’s reply to another of Lovelace’s less than serious love-poems, “The Scrutiny”, has survived. Mr Ventrice, whom the world would otherwise never have remembered, has achieved thereby a sort of footnote immortality—something, I suppose, that I should keep in mind.

Song To Lucasta Going to the Warres

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkinde,
That from the Nunnerie
Of thy chast breast, and quiet minde,
To Warre and Armes I flie.

True; a new Mistresse now I chase,
The first Foe in the Field;
And with a stronger Faith imbrace
A Sword, a Horse, a Shield.

Yet this Inconstancy is such,
As you too shall adore;
I could not love the (Deare) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.

Lucasta’s Reply To Mr Richard Lovelace Going to the Wars

The answer thou return’st me, Dick,
Doth prove thee still unkind,
To try by sophisms to trick
This quiet, but lucid, mind.

If a new mistress now you chase,
What care I who she be?
‘Tis not the horse but the embrace
That still displeaseth me.

Can Honour then on Love forestall?
Or needs it such repair?
I had not loved thee, dear, at all
Hadst thou been wanting there.

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