Kyle's Reviews > The Complete Poems and Translations

The Complete Poems and Translations by Christopher Marlowe
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May 22, 08

Read in May, 2008

Christopher Marlowe definitely had a thing for bringing the best (meaning the naughtiest parts) of Ovid to the Elizabethan era, and it is easy to see why his poetry was so widely admired. Many of his admirers, however, didn't quite get what he was creating. Very evident in Chapman's continuation of Hero and Leander - broken up into Sestiads, no less - where made-up deities like Ceremony and Pity lean on abandoned Hero a lot of heavy lessons about matrimony. At least Petowe's portion carries on somewhat in Marlowe's romantic vein, even if his second part breaks with tradition and gives Leander a happier, and a lot less drowning than other sources tell of, end. The translations of Ovid and Lucan's books are refreshing, imaging that these would most likely be where Shakespeare and his contemporaries would have found much to inspire their plays and poems. The Passionate Shepherd is a good summary of the imagined pastoral life. His admirers, and a few sardonic wits like Ralegh, create strained verses which almost compete with the simplicity of "make thee a bed of roses" and "come live with me, and be my love." The final verse, a memorial to someone named Sir Roger Manwood, who perhaps is only remembered through the ages as having a verse in Latin written about him, becomes more a rant against the lawlessness of London. Did Marlowe really know this guy, or was it his chance to preemptively complain about his own Deptford death?
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