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To Althea, from Prison

To Althea, from Prison

by Richard Lovelace

Freedom and Confinement Theme

"To Althea from Prison?" Yep, plenty of confinement in this poem—but plenty of freedom, too. The speaker doesn't just sit around and bemoan the fact that he's stuck in prison, however. In fact, the poem is really more about how free the speaker is. Free? But he's in prison? True, but one of the major themes of the poem is that true freedom is mental. It's all about how you look at it. The speaker is freer than just about anybody else because his mind—his imagination—is so powerful that nothing can confine it. Not even some gross, English prison!

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. Is imagination really this powerful? Do you think the speaker might be fooling himself (and us)? Why do you think so?
  2. What do you think the phrase, "freedom in my love" means?
  3. Are birds and fish good animals to use in a poem about freedom and confinement?
  4. Would the speaker be as inspiring if he weren't confined? Why? 
  5. What do you think about when you're stuck somewhere you don't want to be?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Free to be! The human mind is powerful enough to overcome all forms of confinement (prisons of stone and iron). It cannot be imprisoned.

Not so fast there, gang. Confinement is everywhere in this poem, despite the speaker's claims that he is truly free.

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