Sedley’s Faithless Phillis

After yesterday’s nod towards the Yeats Day celebrations I have moved in a rather frivolous direction and have a short poem from a Restoration poet, Sir Charles Sedley (1639-1701). This is one of the poems I mentioned as being in my little mini red book called Come Live with Me, along with Christopher Marlowe’s Passionate Shepherd.

text of poem by Charles Sedley

Faithless Phillis

One of the things I love about this book are the decorated front and end papers and this is a scan of the front of the book, showing a dedication to a previous owner. So, not only do I wonder who the faithless Phillis might have been; I also wonder who Gwen was, who once owned this book and then gave it away at some point.

Frontspiece illustration of a poet and lady

Poet and his Lady

You might also be interested in knowing a little more about Sir Charles who was one of Charles II’s ministers, ending up as the Speaker of the House of Commons.  He also got up to various activities of a roistering nature as I discovered courtesy of a lovely history blog Two Nerdy History Girls. Look away now if you’re easily shocked. I believe Samuel Pepys had something to say on the subject, so I must look that reference up. Pepys also lives on the Landing Book Shelves and is a very old resident on the TBR Pile. Tackling his diaries would be a Reading Challenge all by itself so I will probably save him for another year.

I’ll now go away and work on an idea for tomorrow’s choice of poem for #PoetryinJune. Any favourites so far? Let me know if you have one.

Christopher Marlowe

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:

Book jacket in red suede

An intriguing volume

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.

First verse with illustration of two lovers

Beautifully illustrated

The final verse reads:

The Shepherd swains shall dance
        and sing
For thy delight each May-morn-
        ing:
If these delights thy mind may
      move,
Then live with me and be my
      Love.

 8th June is Marlowe Day – see you tomorrow for more Poetry in June.