On this day in 1882, John Drinkwater was born.
On this day in the year 1793, Henry Francis Lyte was born.
On this day in 1598, Christopher Marlowe was killed in a street brawl.
I told you last week there were big things coming up and here you go. Killed in a street brawl. That infallible source alerts us to the “fact” that this may or may not be true, but that’s not going to stop us from investigating Marlowe ourselves, now is it?
In case you have, as I had, forgotten Christopher Marlowe, he was a contemporary of, but predecessor to, Shakespeare. My researches led me to three
crappy old books which speak incredibly highly of his work. He’s regarded by them all as the founder of English Drama.
Following the bent of his own fiery genius and striking out boldly on his own, Marlowe freed himself and English drama from the rigid bondage of classical rules.John Metcalf, English Literature (1912, 1930)
Everything that Marlowe wrote is stamped with a love of beauty and of the impossible.Halleck’s New English Literature (1913)
He is never to be ranked among the minor poets of his time.William Simonds, A Student’s History of English Literature (1902)
Of his death, Simons tells us
Marlowe, twenty-nine years old, died a tragic and disgraceful death. Such was the end of not a few of the brilliant characters who wasted genius and life thus in the prodigal age of the great queen.A Student’s History of English Literature (1902)
Halleck, that he “was fatally stabbed in a tavern quarrel.”
In a footnote to the 1930 edition of English Literature, Metcalf provides detail.
Halleck comments further that Marlowe “unwittingly wrote his own epitaph in that of Dr. Faustus:”
Daily Reading June 1
- Lyte’s “Abide with Me”
- Drinkwater’s “Birthright”
- Cabell’s “Porcelain Cups” [What a way to ruin a mood. No. I do not want porcelain cups on ebay. It’s a short story you idiot.]
Forget those. Read Marlowe’s “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.
Stay well. Stay safe. Keep reading.
* The Oxford Book of Sixteenth Century Verse (1932) is 900 pages.