Medieval to Modern Love Poems #
Sexual Double Standards #
Women suffer from a double standard; the exact same behaviour that types
women as sluts, types men as studs.
The only way to become a good heroic strong man (BSD) is to prove your virility by bedding lots of women. If a woman has sex with lots of men, she’s tainted as impure and horrible, cuckholding her husband. “You go home now and attend to your work, the loom and the spindle, and tell the waiting-women to get on with theirs,” says Hector to his wife, Andromache, in The Iliad. “War is men’s business.” The eight-year-long conflict in Syria gives the lie to that age-old view
Mock Invocation to The Odyssey: #
“Sing to me muse, and through me tell the story of a man who lets all his men die, lies to everyone he meets, cheats on his wife with assorted nymphs and takes ten years for a journey that google says should have taken two weeks."
Odysseus killing all the suitors and the maids who had slept with them is problematic, because they are not at war. In Homer’s memorable line: “They were strung up like little birds; they kicked their legs but not for long." These vivacious victims requite the hero’s desire for patriarchal order.
We must remember that for the noble classes, marriage was a commercial contract to consolidate alliances and to provide male heirs. Romantic love was not in the considerations. Love might or might not eventuate. Gentlemen were expected to have extra marital affairs, but women doing so was a blemish on his honour.
The following assortment of English Love poems, professing devoted love by an admirer in order to attract a lady’s attention, must be viewed in context of Courtly Love.
They are post Shakespeare. They either conform or mock Petrarchan approaches to wooing women.
***Go, lovely Rose * ** ** **Edmund Waller ** **1606 - 87
To Virgins to make much of time - Robert Herrick 1591 - 1674 #
***To Lucasta, Going to the Wars * Richard Lovelace **1617 - 57 #
To Althea, from Prison " “ #
** Go, lovely Rose Edmund Waller**
Tell her that wastes her time and me, * That now she knows, * When I resemble her to thee, * How sweet and fair she seems to be. * Tell her that’s young, * And shuns to have her graces spied, * That hadst thou sprung * In deserts where no men abide, * Thou must have uncommended died. * Small is the worth * Of beauty from the light retired: * Bid her come forth, * Suffer herself to be desired, * And not blush so to be admired. * Then die—that she * The common fate of all things rare* * May read in thee; * How small a part of time they share * That are so wondrous sweet and fair!* …
** ROBERT HERRICK** #
To Virgins to make much of Time #
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, * Old Time is still a-flying; * And this same flower that smiles today * Tomorrow will be dying. * The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, * The higher he’s a-getting, * The sooner will his race be run, * And nearer he’s to setting. * That age is best which is the first, * When youth and blood are warmer; * But being spent, the worse, and worst * Times still succeed the former. * Then be not coy, but use your time, * And while ye may, go marry; * For having lost but once your prime, * You may forever tarry. ………… Both poems develop the Carpe Diem philosophy .espoused by Horace, a Roman poet during the time of Julius and Augustus Caesar. They emphasise the brevity of life, imposing a more pagan view of courtship – sensual pleasure. “Carpe diem – seize the day – eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”
Richard Lovelace, was a leading Cavalier poet, and an Englishman who supported, and fought for, King Charles I during the Civil War. #
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars #
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, Lov’d I not Honour more.
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, And fettered to her eye, The Birds that wanton in the Air, Know no such Liberty. When flowing Cups run swiftly round With no allaying Thames, 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 Know no such Liberty.
When (like committed linnets) I With shriller throat shall sing The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty, And glories of my King; 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, 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, Angels alone that soar above, Enjoy such Liberty.