Love through the ages

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

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Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Christopher (Kit) Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare, writing in London around the same time. Marlowe was a playwright, poet and translator (and alleged spy). Marlowe is known for his blank verse and overreaching protagonists. His death in shrouded in mystery, stabbed in a tavern brawl, some have claimed that his death was an assassination. He is perhaps best known for his tragedy ‘Dr Faustus’.
The Passionate Shepherd to his Love (published 1599)
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.

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Romeo and Juliet (written between 1591-95, published 1597)

Act 1 Scene 5 - The Lovers Meet

[To JULIET] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?


Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.

Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.

Then have my lips the sin that they have took.

Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.

You kiss by the book.

Renaissance Period – 1485-1603

Jacobean Period – 1603-1625

Stuart Period – 1603-1714

John Webster (1580-1634)

Webster was an early Jacobean Dramatist best known for his tragedies ‘The White Devil’ and ‘The Duchess of Malfi’. Webster was born in London although little is known about his early life. His work is characterised by the presence of macabre, horrific visions of mankind. T.S Eliot famously said that Webster saw “the skull beneath the skin.”

The Duchess of Malfi (1612-13)

Act 1 Scene 2 - Antonio speaks of his love for the Duchess.

DELIO: Then the law to him
Is like a foul black cobweb to a spider,
He makes it his dwelling and a prison
To entangle those shall feed him.

ANTONIO: Most true:
He never pays debts unless they be shrewd turns,
And those he will confess that he doth owe.
Last, for his brother there, the cardinal,
They that do flatter him most say oracles
Hang at his lips; and verily I believe them,
For the devil speaks in them.
But for their sister, the right noble duchess,
You never fix'd your eye on three fair medals
Cast in one figure, of so different temper.
For her discourse, it is so full of rapture,
You only will begin then to be sorry
When she doth end her speech, and wish, in wonder,
She held it less vain-glory to talk much
Than your penance to hear her: whilst she speaks,
She throws upon a man so sweet a look,
That it were able to raise one to a galliard
That lay in a dead palsy, and to dote
On that sweet countenance; but in that look
There speaketh so divine a continence,
As cuts off all lascivious and vain hope.
Her days are practic'd in such noble virtue,
That sure her nights, nay more, her very sleeps,
Are more in heaven, than other ladies' shrifts.
Let all sweet ladies break their flattering glasses,
And dress themselves in her.

1603-1625 – Reign of King James I (James VI of Scotland) uniting England and Scotland under one ruler.

The play was inspired by The Palace of Pleasure by William Painters based on true events between 1508-13

Jacobean Period – 1603-1625

The Bible: King James Version (1611)


his is the English translation of the Bible, authorised by James I. The translation began in 1604 and was completed in 1611 by the Church of England. This was the third such translation into English and is the version that is still used to this day. The translators were given specific instructions by the King to ensure that the translation would reflect the structure and beliefs of the Church of England.

1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.

Jacobean Period – 1603-1625

Caroline Period – 1625-1649

Metaphysical – first half of the 17th Century (dates vary but usually considered 1600-1670)


ohn Donne (1572-1631)

Donne was known as a poet, preacher and major figurehead of the Metaphysical Poets of the period. Despite his talent, Donne lived in poverty for several years before training as an Anglican Priest and eventually becoming the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Donne is known for the deep emotion, intellect and wit that feature in his work.

The Flea (first published 1633)
Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be;
Thou knowest that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead.
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered, swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we are met
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and sayest that thou
Find'st not thyself, nor me, the weaker now.
'Tis true, then learn how false fears be;
Just so much honor, when thou yieldst to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

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