Today’s featured poem comes from Christopher (Kit) Marlowe (1564-1593) to coincide with Marlowe Day which is celebrated in Canterbury by the Marlowe Society every year. I have The Passionate Shepherd to his Love in more than one anthology, but my favourite example is the one illustrated here. There are just two further poems in this mini-collection which has no date, just the words:
London & Glasgow
Collins Clear-Type Press
on the title page. No editor or illustrator (line drawings and colour plates) is credited either so I have always been quite intrigued by it. The cover is red (though rather worn now) with a nice suede-like texture though I don’t know what material it is actually made from. It is another of my book sale acquisitions from several years ago and it has survived both house and country moves since taking up residence with me.
I have scanned part of the poem and its illustration to give you an idea of the style of the reproduction and I might include the remaining two poems (by different writers) later in the month. The Marlowe Society has plenty of information on Marlowe’s life and career and also discusses its position on the on going debate about the question of the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. A few years ago I read Tamburlaine Must Die (2004) an excellent novella by Louise Welsh about the mysterious events surrounding Marlowe’s untimely death. Nobody will ever really know what happened but various writers have put forward their theories based upon what little evidence exists.
I know I’m beginning to sound like a school reading list in these posts, with suggestions for further reading but I find it difficult to resist the temptation to pass on ideas for a good read. Bearing that in mind, you could give The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (1992) by Charles Nicholl a try.
The final verse reads:
The Shepherd swains shall dance
For thy delight each May-morn-
If these delights thy mind may
Then live with me and be my
8th June is Marlowe Day – see you tomorrow for more Poetry in June.