Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
If All the Pens That Ever Poets Held
By Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
IF 1 all the pens that ever poets held
Had fed the feeling of their master’s thoughts,
And every sweetness that inspir’d their hearts,
Their minds, and muses, on admired themes;
If all the heavenly quintessence they ’still        5
From their immortal flowers of poesy,
Wherein as in a mirror we perceive
The highest reaches of a human wit;
If these had made one poem’s period,
And all combined in beauty’s worthiness,        10
Yet should there hover in their restless heads
One thought, one grace, one wonder at the least
Which into words no virtue can digest.
Note 1. This is the only instance where I have made an extract from the body of a play of the period. But as there is little of Marlowe’s outside his dramatic works, and as his genius is worthy of more representation than is given to lesser men, I took this opportunity of going beyond the scope of verse I had conceived for my purpose. The lines are from Tamburlaine’s speech, in act v. sc. 1 of The First Part of Tamburlaine the Great. [back]

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