Friday, February 26, 2010

I Spy

The dashing young fellow above is one Christopher Marlowe born this day 1564 in Canterbury, England. There is much mystery about our boy Marlowe, and part of that is a reason for him to ascend to hero status. He was born the son of a shoemaker, and attended (eventually) Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. It was while in college that rumours began to circulate that Marlowe had some secret service smell about him (how's that for alliteration). The Privy Council had to intervene in order for him to be awarded his degree saying that he had performed "good service" and had "faithful dealings" with the Queen. All very mysterious, and Marlowe had had some long term absences from Cambridge that went unexplained. Some surviving records from the college buttery show that he was eating, and drinking like a lord with no visible means of being able to afford to live such a high life. He managed to write seven plays in his brief life on the planet, and was considered one of the best dramatists of the period by his fellow scribblers. Perhaps the most famous tribute to Marlowe was paid to him by William Shakespeare (whom several scholar believe Marlowe to be), with the lifting of lines from Marlowe's play directly into Shakespeare's play "As You Like It." If Shakespeare is ripping you off then are probably pretty damn good. Marlowe was a big influence on the early works of Shakespeare, and that alone would get him into the world of heroes. He also wrote a lovely poem entitled "Hero and Leander." If you know anything about the last 180 some odd posts to this blog, you will see the debt I owe to Marlowe. But, perhaps the best Marlowe story I have to tell is this. A long, long, time ago, I quoted a couple of lines of Marlowe's play "The Jew from Malta" to a lovely young lady, and it had an interesting effect. The lines were "thou has committed fornication, (line break) "Aye, but that was in another country, and besides the wench is dead." The poor girl I quoted those lines to actually thought that I had, at one time, had a girlfriend in another country, and that the girl was dead. Quite funny when I think about it now, quite stupid at the time, but it did get me a LOT of sympathy (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). His death was just a mysterious as his life. The common agreed upon facts are that he and three companions were having a night out on the town in Deptford, and it turned into an ugly brawl over the reckoning of the bill. Marlowe supposedly attacked one of his drinking partners with a knife, and was killed when said knife entered his skull right above his right eye. There have been numerous accounts, and numerous theories to explain both his life and his death, but for some of the best lines of blank verse, and poetry the world will ever have the honour of reading, Christopher Marlowe (February 26th, 1564-May 30th, 1593, at the age of 29), you are my (184th) hero of the day.

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