Come Live With Me and Be My Love


Although the imagery isn’t exactly appropriate for the weather, I post this verse and accompanying painting in honor of the baptismal date (his actual birthdate is unknown) of Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), poet, playwright, freethinker, and influential contemporary of Shakespeare. Anyway, March is just around the corner, so pretty lambs and melodious birds cannot be far off.

The combination of Marlowe’s successful career, yawning gaps in the biographical record, and early mysterious death in a tavern brawl have led to much speculation about his love life, religious views, and supposed alternate career as a government spy. I can’t think why his story hasn’t yet been made into a swashbuckling PBS mini-series.

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 th 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.

—Christopher Marlowe

The painting above was created for the cover of a CD, The Sylvan Court.

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