Christopher Marlowe's Poems

An Explication of Lord Byron's She Walks in Beauty and Christopher Marlowe's The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships

On the afternoon of June 11, 1814, at the home of Lady Sitwell, George Gordon, Lord Byron, upon seeing his cousin Lady Anne Wilmot Horton in "a mourning dress of spangled black" (Leung 312), was so moved that by the next day he had written "She Walks in Beauty," first published in Hebrew Melodies in 1815. Similarly, more than two centuries earlier, a young, radical poet from Canterbury named Christopher Marlowe published The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus which contains a poem inspired by "The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships," namely Helen of Troy. As "idealized" women, Byron's cousin Anne and Marlowe's Helen stand as icons of love that reflect "days spent pondering the intricacies of adoration for hearts whose love is innocent" (Martin 25) through the use of symbols, both natural and subjective.

In "She Walks in Beauty," Byron utilizes numerous metaphors to describe the beauty of his cousin, a rather "prim and pretty" girl that "after a tumbler of brandy and a consequently bad night," (Longford 71), Byron celebrated in two of his most entrancing lines--"She walks in beauty, like the night/Of cloudless climes and starry...

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