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MARLOWE, Christopher


I walk’d along a stream, for pureness rare,

Brighter than sun-shine; for it did acquaint

The dullest sight with all the glorious prey

That in the pebble-paved channel lay.

No molten crystal, but a richer mine,

Even Nature's rarest alchymy ran there,--

Diamonds resolv'd, and substance more divine,

Through whose bright-gliding current might appear

A thousand naked nymphs, whose ivory shine,

Enamelling the banks, made them more dear

Than ever was that glorious palace' gate

Where the day-shining Sun in triumph sate.

Upon this brim the eglantine and rose,

The tamarisk, olive, and the almond tree,

As kind companions, in one union grows,

Folding their twining arms, as oft we see

Turtle-taught lovers either other close,

Lending to dulness feeling sympathy;

And as a costly valance o'er a bed,

So did their garland-tops the brook o'erspread.

Their leaves, that differ'd both in shape and show,

Though all were green, yet difference such in green

Like to the checker'd bent of Iris' bow,

Prided the running main, as it had been-

Elegies, Book One, 5

In summer’s heat and mid-time of the day

To rest my limbs upon a bed I lay,

One window shut, the other open stood,

Which gave such light as twinkles in a wood,

Like twilight glimpse at setting of the sun

Or night being past, and yet not day begun.

Such light to shamefaced maidens must be shown,

Where they may sport, and seem to be unknown.

Then came Corinna in a long loose gown,

Her white neck hid with tresses hanging down:

Resembling fair Semiramis going to bed

Or Laïs of a thousand wooers sped.

I snatched her gown, being thin, the harm was small,

Yet strived she to be covered therewithal.

And striving thus as one that would be cast,

Betrayed herself, and yielded at the last.

Stark naked as she stood before mine eye,

Not one wen in her body could I spy.

What arms and shoulders did I touch and see,

How apt her breasts were to be pressed by me?

How smooth a belly under her waist saw I?

How large a leg, and what a lusty thigh?

To leave the rest, all liked me passing well,

I clinged her naked body, down she fell,

Judge you the rest: being tired she bad me kiss,

Jove send me more such afternoons as this

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses

And a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool

Which from our pretty lambs we pull;

Fair lined slippers for the cold,

With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs:

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning:

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me and be my love.

Hero and Leander

The First Sestiad

About her naked neck his bare arms threw,

And laid his childish head upon her breast,

And, with still panting rocked, there took his rest.

So lovely fair was Hero, Venus' nun,

As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,

Because she took more from her than she left,

And of such wondrous beauty her bereft.

Therefore, in sign her treasure suffered wrack,

Since Hero's time hath half the world been black.

Amorous Leander, beautiful and young,

(whose tragedy divine Musaeus sung,)

Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none

For whom succeeding times make greater moan.

His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,

Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,

Would have allured the vent'rous youth of Greece

To hazard more than for the golden fleece.

Fair Cynthia wished his arms might be her sphere;

Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.

His body was as straight as Circe's wand;

Jove might have sipped out nectar from his hand.

Even as delicious meat is to the taste,

So was his neck in touching, and surpassed

The white of Pelop's shoulder. I could tell ye

How smooth his breast was and how white his belly;

And whose immortal fingers did imprint

That heavenly path with many a curious dint

That runs along his back, but my rude pen

Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,

Much less of powerful gods. Let it suffice

That my slack Muse sings of Leander's eyes,

Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his

That leaped into the water for a kiss

Of his own shadow and, despising many,

Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.

The Second Sestiad

By this Leander, being near the land,

Cast down his weary feet and felt the sand.

Breathless albeit he were he rested not

Till to the solitary tower he got,

And knocked and called. At which celestial noise

The longing heart of Hero much more joys

Than nymphs and shepherds when the timbrel rings,

Or crooked dolphin when the sailor sings.

She stayed not for her robes but straight arose

And, drunk with gladness, to the door she goes,

Where seeing a naked man, she screeched for fear

(Such sights as this to tender maids are rare)

And ran into the dark herself to hide.

(Rich jewels in the dark are soonest spied).

Unto her was he led, or rather drawn

By those white limbs which sparkled through the lawn.

The nearer that he came, the more she fled,

And, seeking refuge, slipped into her bed.

Whereon Leander sitting thus began,

Through numbing cold, all feeble, faint, and wan.

“If not for love, yet, love, for pity sake,

Me in thy bed and maiden bosom take.

At least vouchsafe these arms some little room,

Who, hoping to embrace thee, cheerly swum.

This head was beat with many a churlish billow,

And therefore let it rest upon thy pillow.”

Herewith affrighted, Hero shrunk away,

And in her lukewarm place Leander lay,

Whose lively heat, like fire from heaven fet,

Would animate gross clay and higher set

The drooping thoughts of base declining souls

Than dreary Mars carousing nectar bowls.


Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,

Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack'd;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear'd to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa's azur'd arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!

Lament For Zenocrate

Black is the beauty of the brightest day,

The golden belle of heaven's eternal fire,

That danced with glory on the silver waves,

Now wants the fuel that inflamed his beams:

And all with faintness and for foul disgrace,

He binds his temples with a frowning cloud,

Ready to darken earth with endless night:

Zenocrate that gave him light and life,

Whose eyes shot fire from their ivory bowers,

And tempered every soul with lively heat,

Now by the malice of the angry skies,

Whose jealousy admits no second mate,

Draws in the comfort of her latest breath

All dazzled with the hellish mists of death.

Now walk the angels on the walls of heaven,

As sentinels to warn th'immortal souls,

To entertain divine Zenocrate.

Apollo, Cynthia, and the ceaseless lamps

That gently looked upon this loathsome earth,

Shine downwards now no more, but deck the heavens

To entertain divine Zenocrate.

The crystal springs whose taste illuminates

Refined eyes with an eternal sight,

Like tried silver runs through Paradise

To entertain divine Zenocrate.

The Cherubins and holy Seraphins

That sing and play before the King of Kings,

Use all their voices and their instruments

To entertain divine Zenocrate.

And in this sweet and curious harmony,

The God that tunes this music to our souls,

Holds out his hand in highest majesty

To entertain divine Zenocrate.

Then let some holy trance convey my thoughts,

Up to the palace of th'imperial heaven:

That this my life may be as short to me

As are the days of sweet Zenocrate.