To Althea from Prison

Author: Richard Lovelace  | Date: 1649


When Love with unconfined wings

Hovers within my gates,

And my divine Althea brings

To whisper at the grates;

When I lie tangled in her hair

And fetter’d to her eye,

The birds that wanton in the air

Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round

With no allaying Thames,

Our careless heads with roses bound,

Our hearts with loyal flames;

When thirsty grief in wine we steep,

When healths and draughts go free-

Fishes that tipple in the deep

Know no such liberty.

When, like committed linnets, I

With shriller throat shall sing

The sweetness, mercy, majesty,

And glories of my King;

When I shall voice aloud how good

He is, how great should be,

Enlarged winds that curl the flood,

Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for an hermitage;

If I have freedom in my love

And in my soul am free,

Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.

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Chicago: Richard Lovelace, To Althea from Prison Original Sources, accessed November 26, 2022,

MLA: Lovelace, Richard. To Althea from Prison, Original Sources. 26 Nov. 2022.

Harvard: Lovelace, R, To Althea from Prison. Original Sources, retrieved 26 November 2022, from