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Hero and Leander

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By: (1564-1593)

“Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?”

The wonder-decade of the English drama was suddenly interrupted in 1592, when serious plague broke out in London, forcing the closure of the theatres. Leading playwrights took to penning languorously erotic poetry to make ends meet: so we have Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece - and Marlowe’s blazing masterpiece, Hero and Leander.

Marlowe’s poem became more notorious than either of Shakespeare’s, due not only to its homophile provocations but also to the scandal attaching to every aspect of Marlowe’s brief life, violently ended in a mysterious brawl, leaving the poem in an unfinished state.

The edition read here includes the wonderful continuation by George Chapman, a versatile playwright: tragedian as well as author of Jonsonian metropolitan comedies: in short, an all-round literary craftsman, whose Homer translation was famously admired by Keats. Chapman excels in extended allegory, but also in pithiest epigram –

“Love is a golden bubble, full of dreams,

That waking breaks, and fills us with extremes.”

All these playwrights come from the generation of grammar-school alumni raised on the secular curriculum of Latin poetry: above all, Ovid – the source of the story of Hero and Leander, and their “love-death” in the Hellespont.

First Page:





Hero and Leander, by Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman

Minor poems by Christopher Marlowe

The Passionate Shepherd To His Love

Fragment, first printed in "England's Parnassus," 1600

In obitum honoratissimi viri, Rogeri Manwood, militis, Quæstorii Reginalis Capitalis Baronis

Dialogue in Verse


By Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman


Sir, we think not ourselves discharged of the duty we owe to our friend when we have brought the breathless body to the earth; for, albeit the eye there taketh his ever farewell of that beloved object, yet the impression of the man that hath been dear unto us, living an after life in our memory, there putteth us in mind of farther obsequies due unto the deceased; and namely of the performance of whatsoever we may judge shall make to his living credit and to the effecting of his determinations prevented by the stroke of death... Continue reading book >>

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