Marlowe & Raleigh


Christopher Marlowe (biography)

1564–93, English dramatist and poet, b. Canterbury. Probably the greatest English dramatist before Shakespeare, Marlowe was educated at Cambridge and he went to London in 1587, where he became an actor and dramatist for the Lord Admiral's Company. His most important plays are the two parts of Tamburlaine the Great (c.1587), Dr. Faustus (c.1588), The Jew of Malta (c.1589), and Edward II (c.1592). Marlowe's dramas have heroic themes, usually centering on a great personality who is destroyed by his own passion and ambition. Although filled with violence, brutality, passion, and bloodshed, Marlowe's plays are never merely sensational. The poetic beauty and dignity of his language raise them to the level of high art. He is best known for his masterful usage of blank verse. Most authorities detect influences of his work in the Shakespeare canon, notably in Titus Andronicus and King Henry VI. Of his nondramatic pieces, the best-known are the long poem Hero and Leander (1598), which was finished by George Chapman, and the beautiful lyric that begins “Come live with me and be my love.” In 1593, Marlowe was stabbed in a barroom brawl by a drinking companion. Although a coroner's jury certified that the assailant acted in self-defense, the murder may have resulted from a definite plot, due, as some scholars believe, to Marlowe's activities as a government agent

from Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus

Faustus Ah Faustus,
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
Stand still you ever moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease, and midnight never come;
Fair Nature's eye, rise, rise again, and make
Perpetual day, or let this hour be but a year,
A month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent, and save his soul.
O lente, lente, currite noctis equi.
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.
The devil will come, and Faustus must be damned.
O, I'll leap up to my God who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ's blood streames in the firmament;
One drop would save my soule, half a drop, ah, my Christ!
Ah, rend not my heart for naming of my Christ,
Yet will I call on him. Oh spare me, Lucifer!
Where is it now? 'Tis gone, And see where God
Stretcheth out his arm, and bends his ireful brows.
Mountains and hills, come, come and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of God.
No no, then will I headlong run into the earth;
Earth gape! O no, it will not harbour me.
You stars that reigned at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist,
Into the entrails of yon laboring cloud,
That when you vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to heaven.
Ah, half the hour is past: 'Twill all be past anon.
(The watch strikes the half hour)
Oh God, if thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,
Yet for Christ's sake, whose blood hath ransomed me,
Impose some end to my incessant pain;
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved.
O, no end is limited to damned souls.
Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul?
Or why is this immortal that thou hast?
Ah, Pythagoras' metempsychosis, were that true,
This soul should fly from me, and I be changed
Unto some brutish beast.
All beasts are happy, for when they die,
Their souls are soon dissolved in elements,
But mine must live still to be plagued in hell.
Curst be the parents that engendered me.
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer,
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.
The clock striketh twelve. O, it strikes, it strikes!
Now, body, turn to air, Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell.
(Thunder and lightning.)
O soul, be changed into little water drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found.
My God, my God, look not so fierce on me;
Enter Devils. Adders, and serpents, let me breathe a while;
Ugly hell gape not, come not Lucifer;
I'll burn my books! Ah, Mephistophilis.
Exeunt Devils with Faustus.

from Dr. Faustus Discussion Questions

1) What vain hopes and longings pass through Faustus's mind as midnight approaches?
2) Explain his exclamation "0, I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down? / See, see, where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!"
3) What does Faustus request of the stars in lines 25-31?
4) Paraphrase lines 40-46.
5) Analyze Marlowe's poetic technique in the excerpt. How does he convey Faustus's terror and despair?

Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd"

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 th 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.

from ”The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” Discussion Questions

1) Describe the kind of life the shepherd is offering his love.
2) How realistic is his representation of the kind of life he and his love will lead? Explain.
3) If a poet of today were to write a contemporary version of this poem, how might the details differ from Marlowe's?

Sir Walter Raleigh (biography)

1554?–1618, English soldier, explorer, courtier, and man of letters. As a youth Raleigh served (1569) as a volunteer in the Huguenot army in France. In 1572 he was listed as an undergraduate at Oxford, where he may have studied before going to France In 1580, Raleigh served in Ireland, suppressing the rebels in Munster.
When he returned to England in 1581, Raleigh immediately went to court and soon became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. Raleigh exhibited a genuine talent for administration, but he had already alienated too many important people to achieve real political power. He was appointed captain of the queen's guard in 1587, an office significant because it required constant attendance on Elizabeth.
After the queen's quarrel with Essex over the earl's marriage, Raleigh returned to prominence at court and was granted (1592) an estate at Sherborne. Later that year he set out on a privateering expedition, but he was recalled by Elizabeth and imprisoned in the Tower of London when she learned of his secret marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton, a maid of honor at court. Late in 1592, Raleigh's expedition returned to England with a richly loaded Portuguese carrack.
In 1595, Raleigh embarked on an expedition with the adventurer-scholar Laurence Kemys to find the fabled city of El Dorado. Raleigh was made governor of Jersey in 1600, but his fortunes ebbed when he drifted apart from his former ally Robert Cecil (later earl of Salisbury) in the political tempest over Essex's treason and death. He met his downfall upon the accession (1603) of James I, who had been convinced by Raleigh's enemies that Raleigh was opposed to his succession. Saved from the block by a reprieve, Raleigh settled down in the Tower and devoted himself to literature and science. There he began his incomplete History of the World.
Raleigh was released in 1616 to make another voyage to the Orinoco in search of gold, but he was warned not to molest Spanish possessions or ships on pain of his life. The expedition failed, but Laurence Kemys captured a Spanish town. Raleigh returned to England, where the Spanish ambassador demanded his punishment. Failing in an attempt to escape to France, he was executed under the original sentence of treason passed many years before.

Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply"

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
The coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

from ”The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” Discussion Questions

1) Who is the speaker in this poem? Who is the person being addressed? From what literary work are these two characters taken?
2) How does the speaker first suggest that the shepherd may be making unrealistic promises?
3) What does the speaker think about the gifts being offered her in the previous poem?
4) Under what circumstances might the speaker accept the shepherd's offer?
5) In what ways does the form of Raleigh's poem resemble that of Marlowe's?

Raleigh's "To His Son"

Three things there be that prosper up apace
And flourish, whilst they grow asunder far;
But on a day, they meet all in one place,
And when they meet they one another mar:
And they be these: the wood, the weed, the wag.
The wood is that which makes the gallow tree;
The weed is that which strings the hangman's bag;
The wag, my pretty knave, betokeneth thee.
Mark well, dear boy, whilst these assemble not,
Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the wag is wild,
But when they meet, it makes the timber rot;
It frets the halter, and it chokes the child.
Then bless thee, and beware, and let us pray
We part not with thee at this meeting day.

”To His Son” Discussion Questions

1) Who is the speaker in this poem? Who is the person being spoken to?
2) What happens when the wood, the weed, and the wag meet?
3) Who is the wag in the poem?
4) What is the speaker's main concern?
5) Given the speaker's concern, what conclusion can you draw about the behavior of the speaker's son? Explain.
6) How would you describe the poem's tone?