Christopher Marlowe

(26 February 1564 - 30 May 1593 / Canterbury, England)

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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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Freshman - 1,272 Points Oilibheir Álain Christie (11/26/2014 7:38:00 PM)

    This is not exactly a poem. Funny how people isolate a segment from a play and claim it is a work of its own. Notice it is written in blank verse. Marlowe introduced the blank verse in playwrighting but I don't think he ever wrote a poem in blank verse.
    This is a monologue spoken by the character of Tamburlaine at the opening of Act IV of the play Tamburlaine the Great - part II. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 866 Points John Richter (11/26/2014 7:48:00 AM)

    Thank you for the better understanding Michael. Even without the knowledge of Zenocrate I was struck by the beautiful symbolism of the poet's words and am frankly astounded that 600 years have not diminished them.... Kevin - I empathize with your thoughts as well. But remember tradition then was mostly carried by mouth. Children were told stories of heavenly gods and goddesses and of their temperate manners. Even in England these stories would have been common knowledge so most readers at the time would have recognized this more as a fairy tale where the world faced the possibility of being thrust into eternal darkness - to be saved by the lovely Zenocrate. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 919 Points Gulsher John (11/26/2012 7:54:00 PM)

    writer of Shakespeare plays as well
    the true poetic genius of his time
    rode to future........... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (11/26/2009 10:22:00 AM)

    Love and war are what's taken place in TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT. The 'Lament for Zenocrate' is a hymn of thanksgiving to Apollo for the beauty and goodness of Zenocrate, daughter of the sultan of Egypt. She possesses a divine nature indicated by the lines that mention this quality from the 'angels on the walls of heaven' to the 'Cherubs and holy Seraphins' that sing before the 'King of Kings, ' all in praise of the 'divine Zenocrate'! She has risen from 'this loathsome earth' to shine among the gods in 'imperial heaven' and to be praised by God 'holding out his hand to entertain divine Zenocrate'! All through the play by Marlowe the heroic wife and mother struggles to influence Tamburlaine to cease his warlike ways. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (11/26/2009 8:18:00 AM)

    Over the top. I read this and cannot believe anything is taking place here except the mighty lines rolling around like lightning and thunder in Marlowe's mind. The poetry is too loud to hear that of which it speaks.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 294 Points Ramesh T A (11/26/2009 1:19:00 AM)

    Free flowing blank verse of Marlowe makes me lull on the heavenly picture he has painted on the lively canvas of poetry never leaves the mind! (Report) Reply

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