Friday, February 19, 2010

Poetry Friday: Identifying with Lucasta

I posted recently about how this earthquake situation feels like a war to me. You can read that post here.

The whole time my husband was visiting, I kept thinking about the poem below, "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars," by Richard Lovelace. Richard Lovelace looked something like this:

My husband doesn't look anything like that. No flowing black locks. (Not much hair at all, actually.) No armor. And, unlike the persona of the poem, not even any sword, horse, or shield. He's altogether more rumpled than Lovelace and doesn't have that same superior look on his face. Yet for the first time in my life, as I watch my husband go back to an earthquake zone (he's not going to fight a war, but he is going to do important work in this earthquake "war"), leaving my children and me behind, I feel that Lovelace's words could be spoken to me.

To Lucasta, going to the Wars

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As thou too shalt adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

I would paraphrase that last stanza as: "You should love me more for loving honor so much, because if I weren't that kind of person, I wouldn't be as faithful to you as I am." You could also turn that around and say, "You wouldn't love me as much as you do if I were the kind of person to ignore my duty."

And I wouldn't - much as I wish my husband could stay here with us, I know he is going back to Haiti because of honor, and love, and a desire to do what God wants him to do. We have always worked side by side but now I'm left behind, a bit more like Lucasta than I would like.

I used to read this poem with my students (yes, even though it's always a challenge to read something with the word "breast" in it with middle schoolers) and talk about honor, but I never identified with this poem the way I do now.

Here's a song about Haiti that also uses the image of a war, saying, "We won't lose the battle."

Here's a translation of the lyrics of the song. There are a couple of spots where I couldn't hear very well and I'm not sure I've got it right, so Kreyol speakers, please leave a comment and correct me as needed.

In this moment, pain wants to suffocate us
The ground started trembling under our feet
Despair is beating us
We're searching for a place to believe
The history of our country shows us
We've taken some blows, it's true
But let's put our heads together to change our country

We'll get up, we'll stand up
We'll wipe the tears from our eyes
Hand in hand, with faith, we'll get there
Let God guide us,
Love will encourage us
Together, Haiti will rise

Nothing can crush unity
Everyone's eyes are fixed on the future
Tribulation is bringing us opportunity
To give with all our hearts and souls
Now many are suffering
Raise your faith to give to them
And thank God
Because He gave us life


Let's put people's hands to work
We won't lose the battle


Yes, it's true, we can rise
We'll rise

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.


Janet said...

Ruth, this is wonderful...

Laura said...

Thanks for this post. It reminds me to cherish the "hero" inside of my husband. It is too easy to get caught up in the picky details of life.

Laura Evans

Sherry said...

Thank you. I haven't forgotten the people of Haiti. In fact, I am praying daily during Lent for God's healing for your adopted country.

Kelly Fineman said...

Lovely post. Sending good thoughts and wishes to your husband and the people of Haiti.

laurasalas said...

Thanks for sharing this poem. I've read it before, but I loved seeing your emotional connection with it!