IPM 2MXI: Don’t be Cavalier!

Or maybe you should?

“That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.”

-Robert Herrick from:  To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

I have a strong memory of my Junior Year of high school, I was taking, what they called at the time, AP English or English IV. The class was taught by the redoubtable Donna Northouse who had recently received her doctorate degree (of which she was justly proud and of which I was, pure contrarian teen, deeply disdainful. I often think that if I could go back I would give myself a good smack in the head). If I recall correctly she’d done her thesis on the Cavalier Poets; I was disgusted! Poets who didn’t take poetry seriously, how dare they! Poetry was the sacred territory of unadulterated passion that poured forth directly from the heart; poetry was meant to be blood on the page, seething with raw emotion that would provoke tears and spine tingles in the reader! I wanted to go straight from Shakespeare to the real stuff: The Romantic Poets. I was so relieved when we arrived on the turbulent shores of the Mediterranean buffeted about with Byron, Shelly, and Keats:

“All my faults perchance thou knowest,
All my madness none can know;
All my hopes, where’er thou goest,
Wither, yet with thee they go.”

-George Gordon Lord Byron from Fare Thee Well

I was in love with Byron…he never revised (or said he didn’t), he was good looking, we were both born on the 22 of January! Here was the real stuff, passionate poetry with a capital “P”. From there we went on to study other literary movements and my memory becomes muddled; the image that remains is that of the Romantic Poets and those who followed rescuing me from the Cavalier Poets who were…well…so cavalier about it all!

It would be another 15 years before I came out of my swoon and discovered that there was more to poetry than fire in the blood: love, death, and hopeless despair. It would be almost that long again before I discovered that that the folds of language and the terrain of poetry were deeper than my own navel and more fascinating than the surface of my lover’s skin…


Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick - Cavalier Poet
George Gordon, Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron - Romantic Poet


By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.


  1. Though we think of him as the quintessential Romantic, Byron admired Alexander Pope and thought of himself as writing in the neoclassical tradition.

    “Of the major Romantic poets, Byron most sympathized with neoclassicism, with its order, discipline, and clarity.”

    Not exactly cavalier, perhaps, but not as deeply impassioned as we tend to think of him.

    Fine essay so far; keep up the good work.


    1. Thanks for commenting. I did find his less passionate side years later…on a DART bus placard…”For the sword outwears its sheath, and the soul wears out the breast. And the heart must pause to breathe, and love itself have rest.” Thank you for the link as well, the poetry foundation is a treasure trove!


    Cavaliers like children
    Of purple storm and green rain
    Riding on dolphins
    More than on any other horse
    Archers with a smile
    Sending arrows of pure blood
    Among devastated territories
    Where only fools survive
    In the arms of the fire
    And the sound of the bell

      1. j’aime beaucoup la guerre de troie, mais je dois avouer que je ne me suis jamais penché sur le cas d’énée… quand troie tombe, la suite du voyage s’appelle ulysse (odysseus)..quand ulysse arrive à ithaque, son fils s’appelle télémaque (“qui combat au loin”).
        je suis cette filiation dans laquelle énée est absent depuis la chute de troie.
        (i can translate that in english, if necessary for you^^)

  3. Merci GMC, je peux lire facilement le français mais une traduction peut-être utile pour les autres lecteurs. Maintenant je vois que “archers with a smile / sending arrows of pure blood” réfères à le retour d’Ulysse.
    “Cavaliers like children
    Of purple storm and green rain
    Riding on dolphins”
    j’avait penser du l’empereur Auguste e son désire de tracer ses racines fin à Aphrodite (via son fils énée, fondateur d’Italie).
    Merci encore, vous me prêter un poeme pour International Poetry Month? Je serais très heureux d’avoir un.

  4. no problem, which one do you want? or which kind? a long one? a short one? maybe it would be better for you to choose one you’d like on my blog? just let me know, it’s how you feel it ( i wrote around 5,000 poems these last 6 years, so i have no stock problems^^)

  5. here’s the translation;
    “i really like the war of troy, but i never had interest for enee’s case…when troy is falling down, the name of the journey becomes odysseus…when odysseus arrives in ittaca, his son is named telemachus (his name means “the one who fights far away”).
    i follow (or i am) this filiation in which enee is absent since the fall of troy.”

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: