Christopher Marlowe

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

The face that launch'd a thousand ships


Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack'd;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear'd to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa's azur'd arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Thursday, May 05, 2011

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Read poems about / on: paris, kiss, beauty, heaven, sky, star, wind

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Comments about this poem (The face that launch'd a thousand ships by Christopher Marlowe )

  • Silver Star - 3,279 Points Rajesh Thankappan (1/1/2015 10:13:00 AM)

    Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
    And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

    Unparalleled lines of sheer grandeur and splendor and a poem of unparalleled beauty. Great! Great! Great! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 6,992 Points Frank Avon (9/3/2014 2:22:00 AM)

    Compare this to Edgar Allan Poe's To Helen. Here is the voice of a genuine poet. Poe's Helen is one of his best creations, but is light years away from this in the quality of language and the height of achievement. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 5,558 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (8/26/2014 5:00:00 PM)

    In a way i think he is smitten by the Helen of Troy legend but then i think he is comparing his own paramour who he feels is much more beautiful than Helen.. I have no idea if there are any Greek vases with Helen's picture on it but to love someone as much as this poet does well alright it's his torment.. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,403 Points Kay Staley (8/26/2014 9:22:00 AM)

    I don't really get this one because of the old English. The line Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again is nice and memorable. I like how it shows Helen's power because she is in ownership of his soul. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Melissa Ayton (8/26/2013 8:22:00 AM)

    check out my poem summer fun! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 603 Points Shahzia Batool (8/26/2013 5:35:00 AM)

    nice to read and re-read...the passage is a luxury in reading...a feast, indeed! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ross Mackay (8/26/2012 6:29:00 AM)

    Two people have got this wrong so I'll say it. It isn't Paris talking, it's Faustus. This is an extract from the play 'Doctor Faustus', one of the most famous plays of the Elizabethan era which wasn't written by Shakespeare. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 603 Points Shahzia Batool (8/26/2012 2:56:00 AM)

    Much celebrated apostrophe to the gorgeous Helen! Ramesh T A has rightly remarked about the great Marlowe. At a critical moment he makes mephistophilis conjure the spirit of Helen for Faustus' pleasure(in order to dissuade him from repentance) ...the spell is so much powerful that even in the approaching snares of death, his sensuality reaches its heights.The paragon of beauty is the only remedy available for his anguished soul.thank u PH for sharing this piece... :) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 508 Points Ramesh T A (8/26/2011 3:47:00 AM)

    Beautifully written wonderful poem in support of love by great Christopher Marlowe! It is a classic immortal for all to read and enjoy till the end of time! Long live Paris and Helen in literature to enlighten the readers about the value of love, beauty and truth in the world all have to cherish for the upliftment of humanity forever! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jessel Jane Tevar (8/26/2006 9:49:00 PM)

    Very wonderful... Well-penned piece.Nice imagery and I like the choice of words. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Amber Smith (8/26/2006 3:48:00 AM)

    The story of helen of troy....wow i like it alot.. this is also my favorite story about the iiresitable helen and her lover paris! ! This poem really captures the essance of how helen was so irresitable! (Report) Reply

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