Come live with me and be my love,

This poem is by Christopher Marlowe (if we think of Shakespeare as Sherlock Holmes, Marlowe would be Mycroft Holmes, I think). It is a fairly jolly pastoral romance, a bit like Garcilaso or Gongora might have been writing in Spain at about the same period, or just before. So the theme is quite conventional, but Marlowe manages to pull it off with a fine rhythmic metre, great choice of words and a rhme scheme which does not appear forced.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

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.

From <;

This picture of a shepherd’s life was completely fictitious of course; in reality they had hard lives, but the idea of an idyllic pastoral existence with young shepherds roaming about the countryside singing songs to their loved ones was common enough that Marie-Antoinette replicated this with her hamlet in the grounds of Versailles; and Cervantes wrote long scenes where Don Quijote was tempted to follow the pastoral life.

The first and last lines, “live with me and be my love” say it all really.

The Poetry Dude


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