Accurs'd be he that first invented war!
ACCURS'D be he that first invented war!
They knew not, ah, they knew not, simple men,
How those were hit by pelting cannon-shot
Stand staggering like a quivering aspen-leaf
Fearing the force of Boreas' boisterous blasts!
In what a lamentable case where I,
If nature had not given me wisdom's lore!
For kings are clouts that every man shoots at,
Our crown the pin that thousands seek to cleave:
Therefore in policy I think it good
To hide it close; a goodly stratagem,
And far from any man that is a fool:
So shall not I be known; or if I be,
They cannot take away my crown from me.
Here will I hide it in this simple hole.
War. It sucks. We even got a nifty song named after it by our pal Edwin Starr hilariously sung to us by Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker on numerous occasions. Marlowe’s war, depicted in this poem, is a war for the crown. I don’t know the backstory – if there even is one – so I’ll determine it on its own.
Now, I’m a simple-minded cat, that comes out of my White Bear Lake education, but this poem is both odd and cool at the same time. The first five lines of the poem, posing a interesting declaration and some good imagery, turns into something different by the finale. Whether I’m right or not in my interpretation, but I see this from the point of view of a crown-wearing noble man who is stuck watching “simple men” in a war for his crown as he laments to himself due to his “wisdom.” This Crown Man stands watching these scared, fearful people fight, and he even seems somewhat amused (re: knew not, ah, they…) by them. Then, if he’s not angry about the war, is his declaration in the beginning a sign of his agitation of this inconvenience?
One thing I like about Marlowe’s writing, he doesn’t seem to be extremely vague or full of double meanings that it’s nearly impossible to make some sort of sense to his work. The opening five lines are also a good case for liking Marlowe. The imagery he creates, while calling on the help of a simile, as the ‘simple men’ “stand staggering like a quivering aspen-leaf.” B-e-a-utiful.
Oh! Confused about the Boreas line at all? According to the Encyclopedia Mythica Boreas is the Greek God of the North Wind who lived in Thrace, whose might sank 400 Persian ships instantaneously upon the plea of the Athenians against the approaching storm of Xerxes’ troops.
The last eight lines are just nifty, as they give the reader a sense of the persons mentality and self-confessed ‘wisdom.’ The manner in which he speaks/thinks, the sort of cavalier, nearly fun quality to it…sorta brings a smile to my face.
Seeing as how the writer is a individual of noble status and great power, a Marxist approach would be appropriate here, no? Right off the bat, we’re introduced to a self-centered, uptight, ‘I’m-better-than-you-guys’ of a crown-wearing sir who thinks of the people in the battleground as “simple men.” Can’t be more plainer than that in showcasing economic and social status, eh? Yes, it’s kind of a given for any poem that includes a noble man against not-so-high-and-mighty people, but analyze with a literary theory I must.
A Marxist would note how no one of nobility is amongst those on the battlefield (presumably); how due to
this man’s ability to receive a higher education and thus attain the wisdom these other people and their
families couldn’t hope to achieve shows the powerful and their disregard to lose below their status scale.
Them rich buggers.