Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
By Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
 
COME 1 live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dales and fields,
Or woods or steepy mountain yields.
 
And we will sit upon the rocks,        5
And see 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;        10
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-linèd slippers for the cold,        15
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.        20
 
The shepherd 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.
 
Note 1. This charming song was originally printed (with the exception of the fourth and sixth stanzas) in The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599, a Miscellany of poems written by different persons, although fraudulently ascribed on the title-page to Shakespeare. In the following year, 1600, the song as it is here given, appeared under Marlowe’s name in England’s Helicon. In 1653, Isaak Walton reprinted it, with an additional stanza not given here, in the second edition of the Complete Angler. “Few compositions of this kind,” says Bell, “have enjoyed a wider or more enduring popularity, or suggested more remarkable imitations. The music to which it was sung was discovered by Sir John Hawkins in a MS. of the age of Elizabeth, and will be found in Boswell’s edition of Malone’s Shakespeare, and in Chappell’s collection of National English Airs. Numerous ballads and songs were composed to the air of ‘Come live with me and be my Love,’ and there is some ground for believing that Marlowe’s words had displaced a still earlier song, ‘Adieu, my dear’ to the same tune. (See Chappell’s National Songs, ii., 139.) Shakespeare quotes The Passionate Pilgrim in The Merry Wives of Windsor, act iii. sc. 1, and Raleigh, Herrick, and Donne have either written answers to it, or constructed poems on the plan of which it may be regarded as the model. Sir John Hawkins, who considers the song to be ‘a beautiful one,’ nevertheless objects to the want of truthfulness in its pastoral images. ‘Buckles of gold,’ he observes, ‘coral clasps and amber studs, silver dishes and ivory tables are luxurious, and consist not with parsimony and simplicity of rural life and manners.’ This criticism would be more just if it were not quite so literal. Allowance should be made for the fanciful treatment of the subject; nor is it at all certain that the silver dishes and ivory tables, which carry the luxuries of the shepherd’s life to the excess of inconsistency, are really chargeable to Marlowe. The rest of the poem breathes the pure air of the country, even to the coral clasps and amber studs, which Sir John Hawkins takes to be veritable jewelry, but which, being found in association with a girdle of straw and ivy buds, were apparently intended to typify the blossoms of flowers. For a passage in one of the plays attributed to Marlowe, closely resembling the stanza objected to by Hawkins, see Lamb’s Dramatic Specimens, i., 18.” [back]
 
 
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