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Friday, February 8, 2008

Poetry Friday: Christopher Marlowe's Hero and Leander

For those who believe in love at first sight, here's part of a love epyllion (a short epic poem) by Christopher Marlowe. This poem is based on the Greek myth of Hero and Leander, which has a tragic end. Really, not the most romantic myth for someone who's in love.

However, Marlowe's version of the poem ends before anything horrible happens. Scholars have wondered whether Marlowe intended to keep the poem as is, change the ending, or keep it true to the myth. In any case, if you'd like to read this epyllion in its entirety, you can download it for free from Project Gutenberg. AmoXcalli is hosting Poetry Friday today.

Hero and Leander
by Christopher Marlowe

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

5 comments:

TadMack said...

This is interesting. Christopher Marlow's language is simple, but the depth of the topic makes me read it over and over...

Liz in Ink said...

Wow. Kind of fascinating, the whole "not in our power" bit. Thanks...

Cloudscome said...

I am afraid I do not agree with Mr. Marlow. If not for the will to love and love powered by willful intention I would be lost.

Kelly Fineman said...

"Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?"

Great line, but full of bunk. Although I do believe that he's correct that "where both deliberate, the love is slight." Still, I do love me some Marlowe (I adore his Passionate Shepherd, for instance.)

Robin Brande said...

I don't know about you, HWM, but I can never think of Christopher Marlowe without picturing Rupert Everett playing him in Shakespeare in Love. Love this poem!