1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Marlowe

Samuel Egerton Brydges and Joseph Haslewood, in British Bibliographer 3 (1812) xii-xiii & n.



The fame of this author, who is supposed to have been born about 1562, and was educated at Cambridge; and was afterwards a player, and cotemporary with Shakspeare, and died of a wound suffered from a fray at a brothel, or gaming-table, 1583, has been rendered as immortal as the language in which he wrote, by one short but most exquisite poem, preserved in this Collection [England's Helicon], entitled The Passionate Shepheard to his Love, p. 214, beginning "Come live with me, and be my love." Phillips, who speaks with the pure taste of his uncle Milton, calls Marlow's "a pure unsophisticated wit." And in what refined age could purer poetry, and in purer language, be written, than the following stanza?

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepheards feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing Madrigals.

* Sir J. Hawkins observes, "As to the Song itself, though a beautiful one, it is not so purely pastoral, as it is generally thought to be: buckles of gold, coral clasps, and amber studs, silver dishes, and ivory tables, are luxuries, and consist not with the parsimony and simplicity of rural life and manners." Walton's Angler, 69.