Sunday, March 24, 2019
Notes on the Blank Verse of Christopher Marlowe :: English Literature
Notes on the Blank Verse of Christopher MarloweMarloe was stabd with a dagger, and faded swearingA MORE friendly critic, Mr. A. C. Swinburne, observes of this poetthat the father of English catastrophe and the creator of English uninfected poetize line was therefore also the instructor and the guide of Shakespeare. Inthis sentence there are two shoddy assumptions and two misleadingconclusions. Kyd has as good a gentle to the first honour as MarloweSurrey has a better title to the gage and Shakespeare was nottaught or guided by one of his predecessors or genesis alone.The less questionable judgment is, that Marlowe exercised a stronginfluence over later drama, though not himself as great a playwright asKyd that he introduced several new tones into blank space verse, andcommenced the divisible process which drew it farther and fartheraway from the rhythms of rhymed verse and that when Shakespeareborrowed from him, which was pretty often at the beginning,Shakespeare either made something inferior or something different. 1The comparative study of English versification at various periods is alarge tract of unwritten history. To make a study of blank versealone, would be to elicit some curious conclusions. It would show, Ibelieve, that blank verse within Shakespeares lifetime was more thanhighly developed, that it became the vehicle of more varied and moreintense art-emotions than it has ever conveyed since and that afterthe erection of the Chinese Wall of Milton, blank verse has sufferednot only arrest moreover retrogression. That the blank verse of Tennyson,for example, a consummate master of this form in certain applications,is cruder (not rougher or less perfect in technique) than that ofhalf a dozen contemporaries of Shakespeare cruder, because lesscapable of expressing complicated, subtle, and surprising emotions. 2 all writer who has written any blank verse worth conservation has producedparticular tones which his verse and no others is capable ofrendering and we should keep this in mind when we talk aboutinfluences and indebtedness. Shakespeare is universal (if youlike) because he has more of these tones than anyone else besides theyare all out of the one composition one man cannot be more than one man theremight bemuse been six Shakespeares at once without conflictingfrontiers and to say that Shakespeare expressed or so all humanemotions, implying that he left very little for anyone else, is aradical misunderstanding of art and the artist-a misunderstandingwhich, even when explicitly rejected, whitethorn lead to our neglecting theeffort of attention necessary to discover the specific properties ofthe verse of Shakespeares contemporaries.