To Lucasta, Going to the Wars
by Richard Lovelace
Stanza 1 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
- In this first line, the speaker begs his main squeeze (his "Sweet") not to tell him that he's a big fat jerk.
- Yeah, this is pretty much the start of every awkward break up ever.
- We don't know what this guy did, or is about to do, but it sure doesn't sound promising. Out with it, speaker!
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast, and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.
- Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Translation? The speaker doesn't want his honey to think he's unkind because he's ditching her to go fight a war.
- Except, you know, he says it more poetically than that.
- A nunnery is a place where nuns live; the metaphor here suggests that his relationship with Lucasta is not sexual, but is rather something more pure and "chaste." Sure, speaker.
- Note the contrast, too, between war and arms, and her quiet mind. The speaker wants Lucasta (and us readers, by extension) to understand that he's leaving the peace and quiet of being with Lucasta for the chaos that is war.
- Basically, he's trying to cover his bases here. He wants to make sure that this woman won't think he's unkind for leaving to go fight a war.
- That's an interesting relationship anxiety if we've ever seen one. It's not like he's cheating or anything…