Happy New Year everyone. I’m beginning the New Year with a new poetry anthology, Everyman’s Book of English Love Poems, edited by John Hadfield in 1980. I rescued it from a library book sale a long time ago. I’m going to ignore all my librarian’s training & just dip in where the mood takes me instead of going through the book chronologically. The first poem I’ve chosen is an early one though, Christopher Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.
I’ve had a restless couple of days, flitting from book to book, unable to settle on anything. I enjoyed compiling my Top 10 lists but then couldn’t decide what to read next. I started reading some of Michael Wood’s essays from his collection In Search of England & that led me on to his TV series from about 10 years ago, In Search of Shakespeare. I watched the first two episodes of it last night & I’ll watch the rest this afternoon. I don’t really care if this gorgeous portrait (from here) is Marlowe or not. It’s how I’ve always imagined him & it’s the picture I have in my mind as I read his poetry. I always hear the lovely version of this poem that was used in the opening scenes of the Ian McKellen version of Richard III. You can hear it here (the song starts at 2.13).
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.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.
A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my Love.
The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my Love.
Next week, Sir Walter Raleigh’s reply to Marlowe.