In John Suckling’s “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover” and Richard Lovelace’s “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars,” the themes of Love’s Sorrows and triumphs show how painful lost love can be. While these poems have varied similarities and differences, both illustrate the pain of losing love. Throughout “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover” and “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars”, the poems depict love and loss, showing how each individual loses the one they love.
The poems have similarities that tie in with the themes of Love’s Sorrows and triumphs. The individuals lose loved ones, each poem has a rhyme scheme, the conversations are between a husband and wife, the poems are about love, both poems have alliteration, and the protagonists are the same in both poems.
The individuals loses loved ones, but in different ways. One dies and the other goes off to war. He must fight for his country. He abides by the Cavalier custom. Each poem has a rhyme scheme. In Suckling’s “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover,” the rhyme scheme is (a b c b b). In Lovelace’s “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars,” the rhyme scheme is (ab ab).
The conversations are between a husband and wife. In “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover,” the conversation is about a wife asking her husband about why he is so sickly looking and in “To Lucasta, on Going To the Wars,” the conversation is about a husband who tells his wife that he must go fight in a war. The poems are about love. One individual loves his wife, but his love for her is almost meaningless. The poems have alliteration. “In Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover,” the alliteration is will, when, well. In “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars,” the alliteration is first, foe, field. The protagonists in the poems are the same. In “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover” and “To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars” the protagonists are both spouse’s husbands.
The poems have varying differences. The tone of the poems and the antagonists are different. In Suckling’s poem the tone is sad. In Lovelace’s poem the tone is sad but also brave. Both tones fit the poems well, because both poems are sad. The antagonist is the woman in John Suckling’s poem and in Richard Lovelace’s poem the antagonist is war.
According to the Explanation, Suckling’s “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover” is a parody of the customs of courtly love, showing the poet’s suspicion toward tradition and his Cavalier’s happiness in scandal. Suckling’s poem embraces the sarcasm of the courtier: it censures a young man who adopts the code of courtly love, as he ponders over the coldness of his lady. The lover whom the poet addresses cannot act outside of custom, blind to the ridiculous and fake nature of their own actions. Without the true experience of love and sexuality, they are bound by a work of worn out beliefs, thus the poet addressing the lover as a “young sinner” is ironic. The final stanza voices his sarcasm with utmost carefulness. Knowing that the lady will never love, remaining the target of affection, Suckling reduces the matter to its simplest element: whether or not the young man can succeed in bringing the lady to bed.
John Suckling’s song “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover” is one of the most famous lyrics in English. It is seldom left out of an anthology and receives attention from every generation of musicians, who seem to find it attractive for a musical setting. A moment’s thought about the principle of difficulty teaches the reader its obvious weakness as a general critical standard, for a simple poem may be more difficult to write than a complex poem. Furthermore, a difficult mode of composition can hide vague thought. The use of both universal and historical critical terms assumes that no contradiction exists between historical scholarship and criticism.
If the scholarship is relevant and the criticism is comprehensive; the most important object of study in literature is the work and not the audience or the author.
According to Beaurline, “Why So Pale and Wan, Fond lover” is a more comical than serious poem, a representation of a sophisticated man giving advice to a less sophisticated friend, as if the poem were in a short speech or play. The real problem for the critic is the emotional effect. Historical scholarship helps out here, for there is evidence of what, Suckling and his fellow poets think about sophisticated love poems. We know Suckling disapproves of the poets who write earlier in the seventeenth century. The speaker, experiences in the ways of love, is advising a foolish man on how to behave toward his beloved. The replication of the rhetorical situation is one reason why the poem is so attractive and sportive. It gives the reader a separation, and it probably contributes to the conventional character of the speaker (Beaurline 553-563)
According to the Explanation, “To Lucasta on Going to the Wars” includes numerous qualities that differentiate Lovelace’s poetry. The poem seizes and reiterates the Cavalier ideal, a belief which honors love, war, chivalry, and loyalty to the crown. The drama portrays a Cavalier who leaves his beloved not for another woman but for a high and noble ideal. The poem first emerges at a time when Lovelace was involved in battle, as he fights on the battlefield and then in Parliament against opposition to the monarchy.
The poet John Suckling was born in February 1609; he was the son of the secretary of state to King James 1. He studied at Cambridge and Gray’s Inn, London. After his knighting in 1630 he serves in the forces that help King Gustavus II of Sweden in 1631. In 1639 Suckling aids Charles 1 in a battle against the Scots. Suckling flees to Paris, where he commits suicide in 1642.
The poet Richard Lovelace was born in Woolwich, Kent, England, in 1618, the eldest son of Sir William and Anne Barne Lovelace. Lovelace went to study at Charterhouse School and at the age of eighteen he received a master of arts degree from Oxford University. Lovelace was accepted to the court of Charles 1 in 1638. For the next two years he served in the Bishop’s Wars, an attempt to impose the Anglican religion on Scotland. In 1648 Lovelace participated in an uprising that took place in several parts of England in support of Charles 1. In June of 1648 Lovelace was once again in prison. The month after his release Lovelace’s first volume of poetry, Lucasta is published. Lovelace died around 1657.
When Lovelace issued his slender volume of poems in 1649, he called it Lucasta.
It contained fifty-five poems. Ten years after Lovelace’s death, his brother collected and published another volume of his poems. In this second volume Lucasta’s name appears frequently. It may not be wrong to give further study to the question of Lucasta’s identity. We are asked to imagine Lovelace’s death as one of a broken heart. Rev. J.H.B. Masterman in his Age of Milton (p. 98), “According to tradition, his death was due to despair , caused by the unfaithfulness of the lady addressed as Lucasta, who married under the impression that he was dead.” Mr. Edmund Gosse
Remarks in Ward’s English Poets (pg. 182):It being reported that he was killed, his betrothed
Married another man; and after wasting all his substance in the recklessness of despair, this darling of the graces died in extreme want, and in a cellar.” The late Louise I. Guiney writes in an article in the Catholic World (XCV, 650): “Utter affliction and discouragement, due to the loss of his love, may have disabled him from profiting by such measure alleviation as fell to his colleagues.”