Site Loader

Cavalier poets lived in the 17th century, and were loyal to King Charles I. In this lesson, we take a look at the Cavalier poets and their style. We also analyze how Cavalier poetry differed from metaphysical poetry, which was popular during the 17th century as well.

Definition of Cavalier Poetry

The Cavalier poets, members of the aristocracy, wrote in the 17th century and supported King Charles I, who was later executed as a result of a civil war. They were known as Royalists. Cavalier poetry is straightforward, yet refined. Many of the poems centered around sensual, romantic love and also the idea of carpe diem, which means to ‘seize the day.

‘ To the Cavalier poet, enjoying life was far more important than following moral codes. They lived for the moment.Cavalier poetry mirrored the attitudes of courtiers. The meaning of cavalier is showing arrogant or offhand disregard; dismissive or carefree and nonchalant; jaunty. This describes the attitude of Cavalier poets.

Best services for writing your paper according to Trustpilot

Premium Partner
From $18.00 per page
4,8 / 5
4,80
Writers Experience
4,80
Delivery
4,90
Support
4,70
Price
Recommended Service
From $13.90 per page
4,6 / 5
4,70
Writers Experience
4,70
Delivery
4,60
Support
4,60
Price
From $20.00 per page
4,5 / 5
4,80
Writers Experience
4,50
Delivery
4,40
Support
4,10
Price
* All Partners were chosen among 50+ writing services by our Customer Satisfaction Team

Characteristics

Some of the most prominent Cavalier poets were Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, Robert Herrick, and John Suckling.

They emulated Ben Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare. These poets opposed metaphysical poetry, such as that of John Donne.While poets like John Donne wrote with a spiritual, scientific, and moral focus, the Cavalier poets concentrated on the pleasures of the moment. Metaphysical poets also wrote in figurative, lofty language, while the Cavaliers were simple, being more apt to say what they meant in clear terms. The Cavalier poet wrote short, refined verses, and the tone of Cavalier poetry was generally easy-going.

Examples of Cavalier Poetry

We will examine stanzas from Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, Robert Herrick, and John Suckling, and analyze their themes. Let’s think about how these themes fit into the definition and descriptions of Cavalier poetry.The first poet, Thomas Carew, wrote about the rejection of one young woman, Celia, whom he refuses to pursue further. Here is the first and last stanza of his poem entitled ‘Disdain Returned.

‘Stanza One:He that loves a rosy cheek,Or a coral lip admires,Or from starlike eyes doth seekFuel to maintain his fires;As old Time makes these decay,So his flames must waste away.Stanza Two:No tears, Celia, now shall winMy resolved heart to return;I have searched thy soul within,And find naught but pride and scorn;I have learned thy arts, and nowCan disdain as much as thou.Some power, in my revenge conveyThat love to her I cast away.It almost seems that Carew has a ‘na,na,na,na,na,’ attitude. ‘It serves you right!’ he seems to say to Celia. If she can reject him, then he will also reject her.

No matter how much she might cry and ask him to change his mind, he remains resolute. This fits the Cavalier poet’s mindset. At this moment, Carew dislikes Celia, but tomorrow he may very well change his mind.Once briefly imprisoned during the civil war, Richard Lovelace wrote ‘To Althea from Prison.’ Here is one stanza:When Love with unconfinèd wingsHovers within my Gates,And my divine Althea bringsTo whisper at the Grates;When I lie tangled in her hair,And fettered to her eye,The Gods that wanton in the Air,Know no such Liberty.Although Lovelace seems a little syrupy in this poem, he is writing from his feelings of the moment, and there is definitely a sensual element to this poem.

His lover visits him in prison, and he ‘lie(s) tangled in her hair.’ He feels free in spite of his imprisonment.Robert Herrick definitely sums up the Cavalier attitude in his poem, ‘To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.

‘ Here are the first and third stanzas of the poem:Stanza One:Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,Old time is still a-flying:And this same flower that smiles to-dayTo-morrow will be dying.Stanza Two:That age is best which is the first,When youth and blood are warmer;But being spent, the worse, and worstTimes still succeed the former.Well, here Herrick definitely plays on a young woman’s fears of growing old and of missing out on love. Herrick urges women to eat, drink, and be merry and to live for the moment, even giving up their virginity. This definitely illustrates a Cavalier poet’s attitude toward life.John Suckling’s poetry seems somewhat thrown together at times. Here is a good example, ‘Why so Pale and Wan Fond Lover.

Why so pale and wan, fond lover?Prithee, why so pale?–Will, when looking well can’t move her,Looking ill prevail?Prithee, why so pale?Why so dull and mute, young sinner?Prithee, why so mute?–Will, when speaking well can’t win her,Saying nothing do’t?Prithee, why so mute?Quit, quit, for shame! this will not move,This cannot take her–If of herself she will not love,Nothing can make her:The Devil take her!Here, Suckling chides the poor lad whose ardent pursuit, and then sad face, can’t win the heart of the woman he loves. In true Cavalier form, he tells the boy to move on and basically curses the young woman stating ‘The Devil take her!’

Lesson Summary

The Cavalier poets, members of the aristocracy, wrote in the 17th century and supported King Charles I, who was later executed as a result of a civil war. They were known as Royalists.

Cavalier poetry is straightforward, yet refined. Many of the poems centered around sensual, romantic love and also the idea of carpe diem, which means to ‘seize the day.’ To the Cavalier poet, enjoying life was far more important than following moral codes. They lived for the moment.

Some of the most prominent Cavalier poets were Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, Robert Herrick, and John Suckling. They emulated Ben Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare. These poets opposed metaphysical poetry, such as that of John Donne.

While poets like John Donne wrote with a spiritual, scientific, and moral focus, the Cavalier poets concentrated on the pleasures of the moment.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to reach these goals:

  • Recall who the Cavalier poets were
  • List some of the main themes of Cavalier poetry
  • Describe other features of Cavalier poetry
  • Name some well-known Cavalier poets

Post Author: admin

x

Hi!
I'm Eric!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out