Study Guide

To Althea, from Prison Calling Card

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Calling Card

Loyalty to the King

Lovelace is often numbered among the Cavalier Poets, a group of seventeenth-century poets linked by their loyalty to Charles I in the 1640s (supporters of the king and supporters of Parliament battled each other numerous times throughout the decade in what has become known as the English Civil War). "To Althea, from Prison" shows a loyalty that borders on affection ("hearts with loyal flames"). This unabashed support of England's eventually-executed monarch is a hallmark of Lovelace's style, and that of many of the other Cavalier poets as well. In "To Althea, from Prison," in fact, Lovelace spends more time talking about his devotion to the king than he does talking about Althea, the woman he loves! In other poems, too, Lovelace talks about going to war for the king. In "To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars," he tells his love that he must leave, because he "loves honor more [than her]." You could say Lovelace was pretty loyal to his king, and that he also loves talking about it.

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