Sunday poetry – John Suckling

I’ve just picked up Reprobates by John Stubbs from the library (it’s had rave reviews so I’m looking forward to reading it) so it’s appropriate that today’s Sunday poetry is by Sir John Suckling, one of the Cavalier poets featuring in John Stubbs’ book. The portrait of Suckling by Van Dyck above is from artsunlight.com. He was a leader of the Royalist party at Court during the Civil War, was involved in various ill-conceived plots to help the King, fled into exile in France & came to a sad end. He’s said to have committed suicide by taking poison. His reputation today rests on the witty love poems he wrote, such as this one, The Constant Lover. The opening lines are quite cynical, in the style of John Donne, but the ending is tender & gentle.

Out upon it! I have lov’d
Three whole days together;
And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.


Time shall moult away his wings,
Ere he shall discover
In the whole wide world again
Such a constant lover.


But the spite on ‘t is, no praise
Is due at all to me:
Love with me had made no stays,
Had it any been but she.


Had it any been but she,
And that very face,
There had been at least ere this
A dozen dozen in her place.

2 thoughts on “Sunday poetry – John Suckling

  1. My history group is studying this period at the moment and tomorrow I'm going to talk to them about the transition in the theatrical world from the primacy of what you heard to the primacy of what you saw and how that influenced theatre design in the 1660s. The book you mention sounds as though it would be wonderful background reading. I have to admit that one of the people I thought I would take about at a later date is the Earl of Rochester and there is a reprobate if ever there was one.

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  2. Annie, John Stubbs wrote a book on Donne a few years ago that I thought was terrific so I'm looking forward to Reprobates. I do love Rochester. I hope there's some of his work in my anthology, I haven't looked that far ahead. I'd love to be able to write about his Ancient Lover of my Heart.

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