Thematic Comparison of Lovelace’s To Lucasta and Donne’s Song

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Thematic Comparison of Lovelace’s To Lucasta and Donne’s Song Modern perceptions of love as expressed in literature-- with gender equality and the abandonment of expected role-playing-- did not arbitrarily become pervasive, but are the product of centuries of incremental progression. The seventeenth century in particular provided a foundation for this progression, as poets for the very first time began to question the dictated structure and male domination of the Elizabethan era. Two poems of the seventeenth century, the cavalier "To Lucasta on Going to the Wars" by Richard Lovelace and the metaphysical "Song" by John Donne, each focusing on the pain inflicted by different aspects of love, employ tactics emblematic of the century’s poetry to demonstrate love’s puzzling nature. Both ostensible attempts to comfort their audiences by universalizing and morally justifying love’s baneful realities, they eventually fail and leave their audiences with only exacerbated pain. "To Lucasta," Lovelace’s attempt to justify his departure from his lover Lucasta for the British Civil War by subjugating his sensual love to honor, fails in its illogical and contradictory nature, and acknowledges the ability of love’s endurance to victimize man, while "Song," by trying to alleviate the pain of fleeting love, only underscores love’s inevitable elusiveness. Lovelace, one of the preeminent cavalier poets of the seventeenth century, attempts to use his particular situation with his lover Lucasta as well as an appeal to honor and patriotism to justify to all soldiers the departure of their lovers, but the poem’s inconsistencies obviate success. Throughout the poem, Lovelace’s mind, understanding the need to go to battle, remains at war with hi... ... middle of paper ... ...love for his precious Lucasta, however, inconsistencies and wavering pervade his writing, and reveal his involuntary mockery of soldierly values and his unbreakable bond to Lucasta. As he must venture into battle, he becomes a victim of love’s enduring impregnability. Donne, in his "Song" attempts at first to comfort all men who have encountered the difficulties of romantic relations. With his strong, dominating voice, however, he obliterates the prospects of enduring love. Much the opposite of Lovelace, Donne delineates himself as a victim of love’s elusiveness. What the two poems have in common is their discomforting effect on their audiences resulting from their eventual resignation to their respective perceived realities. For Lovelace, this reality is a future of battle and a separation from all that matters; for Donne, it is a life void of enduring love.

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