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Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Truth. Fiction. How much the line blurs, when all our evidence is circumstantial. But this is not a commentary on the legal bits of society–no, it is a sad fact about the lives of many of our greatest, oldest artists. One of the greatest dramatists of the Elizabethan Era, there remains, to great consternation, little facts in our hands about the life of one Christopher Marlowe, our spotlight for the day.

Was he a spy? A drunk and a brawler? We know he was a writer–but do we know the scope of what he had written? Did he strike up the heretical, or stick to the dramatic? Theories abound, and his own fellow writers have been some of the greatest propagators of the mystery–we do, after all, so love a good controversy, and when it involves one of our own, well, all the better.

What we do know, beyond all reason of a doubt, was the scope of influence and artistic grace that Marlowe brought to the table. So too do we know the circumstances of his beginnings–humble beginnings, mind you, though his work would go on to entertain every scope and strata of society. We know he went to college regardless of these beginnings, that he married and loved and had, for whatever reason (hence the speculations!) some standing with the Privy Council, who once wrote letters on his behalf.

Oh, secrets–we do love them so.

Today, of course, Marlowe is most commonly known in pop circles for a certain, odd little controversy about his person–the proposed theory that he and one William Shakespeare may be one and the same. This is due to the strange circumstances of his death, the fact that they shared a birth year, and the enduring greatness of both men’s works. In truth, he was another writer to meet a violent end, though not at his own hands. Accused of heresy, he was set to be arrested–only to have been inevitably killed in a brawl, which appears to be of the bar variety.

But the works speak louder than the theories. And here, at Pretzels and Bullfights, the works are paramount. So without further adieu…

~Chris Galford

Lament for Zenocrate

Black is the beauty of the brightest day,
The golden belle of heaven’s eternal fire,
That danced with glory on the silver waves,
Now wants the fuel that inflamed his beams:
And all with faintness and for foul disgrace,
He binds his temples with a frowning cloud,
Ready to darken earth with endless night:
Zenocrate that gave him light and life,
Whose eyes shot fire from their ivory bowers,
And tempered every soul with lively heat,
Now by the malice of the angry skies,
Whose jealousy admits no second mate,
Draws in the comfort of her latest breath
All dazzled with the hellish mists of death.
Now walk the angels on the walls of heaven,
As sentinels to warn th’immortal souls,
To entertain divine Zenocrate.
Apollo, Cynthia, and the ceaseless lamps
That gently looked upon this loathsome earth,
Shine downwards now no more, but deck the heavens
To entertain divine Zenocrate.
The crystal springs whose taste illuminates
Refined eyes with an eternal sight,
Like tried silver runs through Paradise
To entertain divine Zenocrate.
The Cherubins and holy Seraphins
That sing and play before the King of Kings,
Use all their voices and their instruments
To entertain divine Zenocrate.
And in this sweet and curious harmony,
The God that tunes this music to our souls,
Holds out his hand in highest majesty
To entertain divine Zenocrate.
Then let some holy trance convey my thoughts,
Up to the palace of th’imperial heaven:
That this my life may be as short to me
As are the days of sweet Zenocrate.
~Christopher Marlowe