1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Marlowe

Bryan Waller Procter, in "English Poetry" Edinburgh Review 42 (April 1825) 50-51.



Christopher Marlowe is more celebrated as a dramatic writer than as a mere poet, although his song of "Come live with me and be my Love" is well known. Beside these things, he translated Coluthus's "Rape of Helen," and also part of Musaeus's "Hero and Leander." The commencement of this last poem is very beautiful

On Hellespont, guilty of true love's blood, in view and opposite, two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoined by Neptune's might:
The one Abydos, the other Sestos bight.
At Sestos HERO dwelt, — Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offered as a dower his burning throne!
———*———*———*———*———
Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pined,
And looking in her face was stricken blind.
So lovely fair was Hero, Venus' nun!

Again, after speaking of the people who flocked to Sestos every year, to be present at the festival of Adonis, the poet says—

But far above the loveliest Hero shined,
And stole away the enchanted gazer's mind:
For, like sea-nymphs' inveigling harmony,
So was her beauty to the passers by.
Not that night-wandering, pale, and watery star,
When yawning dragons draw her whirling car,
From Latrnos' mount up to the gloomy sky,
Where, crowned with blazing light and majesty
She proudly sits, more over-rules the flood,
Than she the hearts of those who near her stood.—
E'en as when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase,
Wretched Ixion's shaggy-footed race,
Incensed with savage heat, gallop amain
From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain—
So ran the people forth to gaze upon her, &c.

In the temple, among the multitude, is her future lover. Hero who has been sacrificing at the altar, opens her eyes modestly as she rises—

Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head,
And thus Leander was enamoured.

The catastrophe of this story is known to every one.