English playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe
(1564-1593) is considered the most important Elizabethan
dramatist before William Shakespeare
and acclaimed as the first great English dramatist, although his career was a brief one lasting a mere six years before he was killed at the age of 29 in a tavern fight. While earlier playwrights focused on comedy; Marlowe worked on tragedy and was responsible for advancing it as a dramatic medium and paving the way for Shakespeare. His masterpiece is The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
He was the first poet to write in blank verse
, as well as translations from the works of the ancient Latin poets, Lucan
As a poet Marlowe is best known for this classic romance piece The Passionate Shepherd (1599), which contains the familiar phrase Come live with me and be my Love, / And we will all the pleasures prove .... An ideal example of what is known as a pastoral lyric alluding to the shepherds writing music to their flocks. The tradition goes back to David in the Bible and Hesiod the Greek poet. If the nymph would go just a-maying with the him, they would have a perfect life. The shepherd paints a very pleasant picture of his bucolic
world, in which “Melodious birds sing madrigals” and the people will dance to entertain his love. Offering her all the beauty of nature from steepy mountains and the smell a thousand fragrant posies, to artful stitching from the Myrtle; the tree of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. First published in the original text of The Passionate Pilgrim the poem has a carpe diem theme of unbridled passions written in quatrains of iambic tetrameter A kirtle refers to a skirt or petticoat and swain is lover or sweetheart.
When themusic asks in the above write up,"Who really wrote this, Shakespeare, or Christopher Marlowe?" He referring to this bit of very interesting; truth is stranger than fiction, story about Marlowe's sudden and fearful demise:
In the spring of 1593, a friend of Kit's (as Christopher Marlowe was often called) was captured and tortured by the Queen's Privy Council.Based on this 'evidence,' the Council was preparing to arrest Kit. But before this arrest could take place, Kit was killed in a brawl at a rooming-house in the town of Deptford. He was staying there with three of his friends--and let me tell you, these were some very interesting friends. Ingram Frizer was a known con artist and (even worse) a moneylender. Nicholas Skeres was Frizer's frequent accomplice and
probably a fence. Robert Poley was an occasional courier/spy for Her Majesty's secret service, who had boasted of his ability to lie convincingly under any circumstances. Frizer's master, Thomas Walsingham, was a cousin of the noted spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham. On the night of 30 May 1593, the four of them had just finished eating when Frizer and Kit began arguing over the bill. Kit eventually grabbed Frizer's dagger and attacked him from behind, and in the ensuing fight, Frizer regained his dagger and stabbed and killed his friend. He was
quickly pardoned on grounds of self-defense, and his employers did not fire or otherwise ostracize him.
Both the timing of Kit's death and the lack of any retribution against his murderer have led some scholars to theorize that his death was faked and Kit himself took up a new identity to escape the Privy Council. Some go so far as to state that this new identity, was, of course, obviously, that of William Shakespeare.
Many sensible people would reject this theory as rather silly, though it has the makings of a good Bond film. From this historical mystery, the American motion picture screen writer and author of detective fiction, Raymond Chandler lent Marlowe's name to his own hero Philip Marlowe.
In a rather perverse way, The Passionate Shepherd has been carried along by others by creating a small industry for poets writing replies. Compare to the eeirily similar Shakespearean Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, 5. Most can be summarized as "show me a ring first, buddy." A rather fishy tale is The Bait by John Donne. However, the best known answer is by Sir Walter Raleigh another colorful figure of the Renaissance; there have been dozens over the years. Few are as clever as Raleigh's response, The Nymph's Reply.
The Wondering Minstrels: