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Thomas Carew: Inventor of Cavalier Love Poetry

by William J. Long

Thomas Carew (1598?-1639?). Carew may be called the inventor of Cavalier love poetry, and to him, more than to any other, is due the peculiar combination of the sensual and the religious which marked most of the minor poets of the seventeenth century. His poetry is the Spenserian pastoral stripped of its refinement of feeling and made direct, coarse, vigorous. His poems, published in 1640, are generally, like his life, trivial or sensual; but here and there is found one, like the following, which indicates that with the Metaphysical and Cavalier poets a new and stimulating force had entered English literature:

Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose,
For in your beauty's orient deep
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.
Ask me no more where those stars light
That downwards fall in dead of night,
For in your eyes they sit, and there
Fixèd become as in their sphere.
Ask me no more if east or west
The phoenix builds her spicy nest,
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.