To Althea From Prison
Richard Lovelace (1618-1657), English poet

When Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my gates,
And by divine Althea brings
To whisper at my grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair
And fettered with her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups pass swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses crowned,
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 mercy, sweetness, majesty
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud, how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlargèd 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 a hermitage:
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

from The World's Best Poetry Volume VIII: National Spirit (1904)


courtesy of  vintagewinepoems.com