Christopher Marlowe

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

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Who Ever Loved That Loved Not at First Sight?


It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;

And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (4/13/2014 2:44:00 PM)

    It seems we've read this one before

    Hero and Leander

    It lies not in our power to love or hate,
    For will in us is over-rul'd by fate.
    hen two are stript long ere the course begin,
    We wish that one should lose, the other win;
    And one especially do we affect
    Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
    The reason no man knows; let it suffice,
    What we behold is censur'd by our eyes.
    Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
    Who ever lov'd, that lov'd not at first sight. (Report) Reply

  • Francis Lynch (4/13/2014 10:39:00 AM)

    I like the phrasing, but the ideas of fate and chance and luck and serendipity elude me now. (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (4/13/2014 4:13:00 AM)

    There is so much speculation about the life of this wonderful poet. Many say that he wrote a fair number of the plays and poems attributed to William Spakespeare. Shakespeare himself appears to have used phrases snatched from the works of Marlowe. In my youth I often used his Love Song from a Shepherd to his Maid as a chat up line. Come lie with me, and be my Love and we shall all the pleasures prove.
    Thise piece is but another wonderful example of his way with words. His early death through stabbing proved a tragic loss. (Report) Reply

  • Rashmi Prakash (4/13/2014 1:05:00 AM)

    It lies not in our power to love or hate,
    For will in us is overruled by fate.

    Disagree:
    The power of fate is turned with the will to do the right thing - Always

    When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
    We wish that one should love, the other win;

    Disagree:
    Love does not lead to the path so that the Win-Win situation is born. It will lead lest Love is lost.


    And one especially do we affect
    Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:

    Agree:
    The effect on the entities can be described as mutual and expected.

    The reason no man knows; let it suffice
    What we behold is censured by our eyes.

    Agree:
    Here the words are actually describing the fact that is known and acknowledged likewise.

    Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
    Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

    Agree:
    It will be Love at 1st sight, the poets's words tend to roll down a nice pattern at the end. (Report) Reply

  • Babatunde Aremu (4/13/2012 7:24:00 AM)

    This poem exposes individual limitation in falling in love. There is a force beyond ordinary sight that makes people to fall in love. Very wonderful poem, like it (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (4/13/2010 5:12:00 PM)

    Do we have a tendency to range far afield? It seems to me a long journey from Marlowe's ten lines to marriage customs in the countries on the Asian rim, but that's just me, I guess. Was Elizabethan England a patriarchal society? How does one define a society of individual subjects of Elizabeth I 'in service to their social allegiances'? Is Horatio commenting on marriage customs in the quote cited by our redoubtable scholar? Or what else could he be referring to? Arranged marriages and contractual unions one and the same for all practical purposes? I'm bedazzled and bewildered by all the scholarly hocus-pocus disseminated by the most astute Shakespearean scholars among us! (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (4/13/2010 9:33:00 AM)

    The first two lines are particularly fitting, in an age of arranged marriages for position, power or family and parental decree, which Christopher Marlowe is referencing here. This was an age of individuals in service to their social allegiances, individual free will was not often an important part of a patriarchal society. Although clearly many have loved but not at first sight. However as Shakespeare aptly reminds us in Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
    In Indonesia and throughout Asia arranged marriages and contract marriages are still common. For example contract marriages are arranged here for a day, a few days, a week or two, even occasionally a month and then the couple divorce at the prearranged time, and perhaps a little research regarding especially the number of Arab men coming here and participating in these contract marriages would astound you.
    These are religious not state marriages in Indonesia, a siri marriage in Islam, and the debate regarding if it is a form of prostitution is interesting. The dowry of a siri marriage in jewelry and money can be viewed as wealth for a poor kampung family. However any children of these contract marriage have no right to the father’s name, property, inheritance rights or even a birth certificate. Should the government here create a law to protect these women and children who are abandoned? Sadly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lacks teeth in areas and countries of poverty. Indonesia is not however a poor country, it is a complex and intriguing archipelago of cultural diversity, with about 17000 islands spanning over 5000 km. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (4/13/2010 5:51:00 AM)

    Love that is the result of deliberations is not so hot as falling in love. Yet in Marlowe's time and till recently marriage was often the result of deliberations. Now no one will get married (if they do) until they are in love. Yet being in love is not necessarily a good basis for marriage, especially when the going gets tough. Love and marriage are not always like a horse and carriage. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (4/13/2010 2:35:00 AM)

    Both love and hate are decreed by fate for all and love starts at first sight itself by fate indeed! (Report) Reply

  • Is It Poetry (4/13/2009 10:31:00 AM)

    It is like going through life
    with eyes wide open
    keeping them pried shut..
    for me..iip..it is nice talking
    with you..Thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Kentucky Refugee (4/13/2008 1:38:00 AM)

    If you like his poem, try the novel 'Loving Frank' by Nancy Horan- a very powerful, moving, and tragic tale of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick. (Report) Reply

Read all 15 comments »

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