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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.


Commentary

To have the power of Zenocrate, no? Zenocrate is liken to a God, a powerful force who, upon her simplest wish, is given whatsever she desires. A common device in many forms of plays and poetry in Elizabethan era (well, frankly, everywhere) is the Gods - their names are used for similes and metaphors, their powers and beauty and gifts used as comparisons to mortal men; not to mention acting as a deux ex machina for situations in which a character can't concievably get out of without divine intervention. In this particular poem, Zenocrate is presented as a woman who is loved and adored by all, to the extent that six-winged supernatural creatures (the Seraphines), musicians and performers do their best to entertain Her Majesty.


 

As Zenocrate is compared to a God, and her position similar to that of Helen of Troy, I find it worth while to delve into the mythological and archetypal approach for this particular poem.


 

First off, Zenocrate is the universal beauty, the 'damsel-in-distress' character in some stories. The role of 'beauty' causes war, death, jealously, and sometimes insanity. In 1933 a giant ape climbed the biggest tree in American to hold his beauty; a man from Troy fell in love with a woman that resulted in a good amount of deaths; and there's plenty of women that turn men a little crazy like might just turn a little Jack Nicholson-y. In a way, Zenocrate can be viewed as a King (technically, a Queen, yes, but I'm trying to delve home a point). A King has people dancing and performing for him to entertain or amuse him; this is Zenocrate now. Her power - her mythic stature allows her to do whatever she pleases. 


 

Her beauty is so powerful that even the skies are jealous with rage ("Now by the malice of the angry skies,
Whose jealousy admits no second mate.."), and the Gods (Apollo, Cynthia, etc.) do much to appease her. This is the treatment reserved for a warrior, a powerful man. So, in a way, this is sort of going against archetypes and constructing a new one. 


 

Take it for what you will, I made an attempt. 


 

Now for this poem, Marlowe indulges in metaphors and creates some rather striking imagery. Metaphors are used a lot throughout the poem, but a simile is nowhere to be found, as things are likened without using connection words such as 'like' and 'as.' 


 

One of Marlowe's best poems (although his greatest still remains 'Our Conquering Swords'), 'Lament for Zenocrate' is powerful, beautiful, and imaginative.