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I Must Have Wanton Poets


I MUST have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please:
Music and poetry is his delight;
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night,
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad;
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay;
Sometime a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides,
Crownets of pearl about his naked arms,
And in his sportful hands an olive-tree,
To hide those parts which men delight to see,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there, hard by,
One like Actæon, peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transform'd,
And running in the likeness of an hart,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die:
Such things as these best please his majesty.


I hereby crown 'I Must Have Wanton Poets' as Christopher Marlowe's Worst Poem. Now for all I know, every scholar in the known and unknown universe(s) love this poem and find it a landmark in poetry, but for the life of me, I don't know what the frak is going on, and thus, I designate it with said award. 

What constitutes worst? Perhaps worst is summarized as a poem that is simply lacking in poetic flavor, or speaks ill of another fellow or diety. But for me, worst in this context means that this thing is confusing and makes no sense. Granted, I did spend only a little bit of time trying to interpert and understand the underlying meanings behind this poem, but I'm still at a loss. After the sixth line, I'm overboard in 'huh?'

For the first time in a while, Marlowe uses some similes. Well, not some, because 'like' is floating all over the place in this particular poem. Nothing as far as I can see for personifications, imagery, or symbols. Perhaps a metaphor here and there.

The point is, aside from the obvious beginning, I'm lost with this poem. However, one thing I did notice is the inclusion of a naked young boy, which I'm surprised wasn't used as 'evidence' towards Marlowe and his alleged homosexuality.