To Lucasta, Going to the Wars by Richard Lovelace


nunnery – a home for religious women
inconstancy – unfaithfulness, infidelity

Explication of The Poem

Tell me not , Sweet, I am unkinde,

In this line the narrator directly addresses her beloved not accuse him that he is unkind and unfaithful. This line is in regards to his love not to think of him as being thoughtless and uncaring.

That from the Nunnerie
Of thy chaste breast, and quiet minde,

These lines refers to how he thinks of his love as being innocent, pure, serene, someone to whom he thinks of as a sanctuary. The lady for him is so great, true, chaste and of a great value. Nunnery is a metaphor; mind and breast are a metonymy of her. Nunnery is a quiet place where we find chaste people.

To Warre and Armes I flie.

He is leaving his love to go to war. Here he indicates that he is rushing to battle, to war and conflict very different from the calm soothing sanctuary of his love. Here he also shows his courage. He doesn’t go dragging himself to war but flying.

True ; a new Mistresse now I chase,

Now he is indicating that he is pursuing something, something that he feels passionate about.

The first Foe in the Field ;

At this point he is comparing the madness of love with the madness of battle.The speaker appears very courageous in the battle field, in 2nd stanza (first foe: he will run after the first enemy he sees and defeat him). This meaning is emphasized by throwing alliteration first, foe, field. This shows his bravery for fighting for the kind cause.

And with a stronger Faith imbrace
A Sword, a Horse, a Shield.

Here he is indicating that he feels that the tools of war, the weapons are what he is now placing his faith in believe rather than in love.

Yet this Inconstancy is such,
As you too shall adore ;
I could not love thee (Deare) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.

At this point he is saying that his love could not love him unless he put honour, valour, righteousness above his own personal feelings. He is saying he would not be worthy of her love nor the person he/she loves if he did not believe in sacrifice for the greater cause.

I love this inconstancy and you should love it. The speaker said that the lady should love an honorable man. The speaker appears a good lover but call to duty as more important for him . He reflects conflict between the two ideas of love and honor. The whole poem is an apostrophe: the speaker addresses his beloved to present the situation.

To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

Summary of To Lucasta, Going To The Wars

In his bittersweet poem To Lucasta, Lovelace manages to relay to the reader the terrible contrast between love and war through diction. Lovelace first does this by introducing the theme of love using only positive diction. For example, he calls his mistress Sweet which is, in my opinion, one of the most loving names one could call someone dear to him. This shows that he is affectionate with his mistress.

In the second line, he describes “the nunnery of thy chaste breast and quiet mind” in which he has been sheltered and nurtured. Here, the adjectives chaste and quiet illustrate the innocence, purity, and incorruptness of the narrator’s mistress.

In the next line the narrator introduces the theme of war but it is not until the following stanza that the narrator’s diction provides the sharp contrast between the initial theme of love and the ending theme of war.

In the first line of the second stanza the narrator announces, “a new mistress now I chase”.This is said in such a way, using the word mistress, which is commonly used to refer to one’s lover, that Lovelace fools the reader into believing that he is being unfaithful to his current mistress. However, in the following line, he clarifies his previous statement by articulating that his new mistress (foe) will be his first victim of war.

The third line of the second stanza is my favorite yet because the narrator’s diction plays off of his previous diction; he says that with a stronger faith embrace a sword, a horse, a shield. Faith plays off of chaste and embrace plays off of nunnery. In this way, Lovelace contrasts the warm atmosphere of his mistress nunnery with the harshness of war.

In the third and final quatrain, Lovelace acknowledges his infidelity (inconstancy) and ends the poem simply by conceding that he can only love his mistress because of his greater love for honor. Though it may seem a bit harsh, the narrator pauses his final thought to clarify that he does not mean to be; he calls his mistress Dear. Overall, the diction throughout the poem reinforces both the positive and negative in the poem, love and war.

Important Questions

1. The speaker’s comparison of Lucasta to a nunnery is an example of what literary device?
The comparison is an example of a metaphor.

2. Explain the metaphor present in the poem’s second stanza.
The speaker is comparing his relationship with Lucasta to his experiences at war. His new mistress is the enemy, someone to pursue and conquer.

3. In the third stanza, “thou too shalt,” presents an example of what poetic sound device?
The repetition of the ‘t’ sound is called consonance.

4. Within the speaker, what faith is stronger than his faith in the woman he loves?
In the second stanza, the speaker says his faith in his sword, horse, and shield is stronger than his faith in the woman.

5. According to the speaker, why should the woman not take offence to the fact that his faith in his horse and weapons is stronger than his faith in her?
The speaker says from the “Honour” and faith he has in his country and cause, he has gained the ability to also love, honour, and have faith in her. In addition, if he had not had faith in his sword, shield, and horse, he may not have survived the war, and so would not have been able to love her at all.

Q. What is the theme of to lucasta on going to the wars?

“To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” is all about commitment. The speaker leaves behind the lady he loves because he wanted to go to war and be a noble and honourable person in his eyes. He makes a point of explaining the magnitude of his sacrifice. To him the lady he leaves behind is not less awesome but he can not compromise his honour.

Like several many young men of his generation or any generation, the speaker is ready to prove his mettle with a bit of derring-do. Yet he is afraid that if he leaves her side his beloved lady will think less of him. The idea, though, is that there are moments when a man needs to sweet-talk his beloved to get his way.

The importance of honour and responsibility is another important theme of the poem. The speaker begs his loved one not to think unfairly of him for leaving her side to go to war. He is not uncaring and disloyal. He claims that he could not love her beloved as much as he does if he dishonoured himself by refusing to answer the call to duty .

Q. What type of poem is To Lucasta, Going to the Wars and when was it published?

“To Lucasta, Going to the Wars” is a lyric poem which a young man explains to his beloved why he must leave her to go to war. It was first published in 1649 in To Lucasta, a collection of Lovelace’s poems.

Q. What does lucasta mean?

The name Lucasta is the name of a girl of Latin origin and it means “pure light.” Lucasta is a distinctive alternative that is seldom used and a natural extension of the terms Luke / Luc / Luca.

Q. Write a brief summary of To Lucasta, Going to the Wars Summary.

To Lucasta, Going to the Wars is a very brief poem that was written by Richard Lovelace about a man who said goodbye to his lover before going to war. He pleads with his lover to understand that he has to abandon the secure and sweet warmth of his presence and urges her not to believe he is unkind to go away.

Q. What does the speaker now chase in line 5 of To Lucasta, Going to the Wars?

In the lines 5-6, the speaker claims he is now chasing a “new mistress”—the” first foe in the field. “Obviously, the” first foe “isn’t his mistress (which could get weird), but here “mistress” is a metaphor. The speaker would follow his enemy much as he pursued Lucasta.

Q. What are the different Figures of Speech used in To Lucasta, Going to the Wars?

Following are examples of figures of speech in the poem.


Line 5:..a new mistress now I chase
Line 6:..The first foe in the field
Line 9:..this inconstancy is such


Line 8: A sword, a horse, a shield


Lines 2-3: That from the nunnery
……………Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
Comparison of the young woman’s body (breast) and mind to the peace and serenity of a nunnery

Line 5-6: True, a new mistress now I chase,
…………..The first foe in the field
Comparison of the enemy to a mistress

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