From Scotland, the top of the world’s acceptable living conditions, we take the finest tradition of the working class: P.O.E.T.S. Day (Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday). This weeks patron is Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, so possibly Shakespeare if you forgot your aluminum foil hat.
Marlowe’s first problem was his name. Not all Christophers are called Kit. But of those that I came across in historical records that did enjoy the nickname, many of them – Kit Carson, Kit Burns, Kit Coleman, and Kit Klein – died. Parents take note when choosing your child’s name.
From Wikipedia (which means lifted from another source that Wikipedia does not credit, but I’m doing my best here. Sorry original source.) “Marlowe has often been described as a spy, a brawler, a heretic and a homosexual, as well as a ‘magician’, ‘duellist’, ‘tobacco-user’, ‘counterfeiter’ and ‘rakehell.'” There is credence to all of these if absence of evidence is evidence of… whatever. For the purposes of this post he was all of the above. Rumors swirled of his atheism, which is a pain in an Anglican society. It got worse when he was rumored a Catholic and as such denied his degree from Corpus Christi College until a weird thing happened. The Privy Council stepped in on his behalf. The college decided that, though a menace, the Pope was less likely to cause them immediate problems than government officials loitering about like some proto-NCAA investigators and awarded Kit his lambskin.
It would appear likely that he was a Queen’s agent infiltrating the Church of Rome. His arrest with a Catholic anti-government group in the Netherlands for counterfeiting was whisked under the rug. He had numerous absences from school, spent beyond his means on food and wine when he was accounted for, and had the support of the Privy Council, at least until they decided to arrest him for heresy and homosexuality after he was ratted out because some people can’t handle a little torture in their interrogation. We’re looking at you Thomas Kyd.
Ten days after his arrest, Kit was stabbed, presumably through the eye, in a barfight. Three men in the room had ties to Royal intelligence (If you are the type who asks how I know this or what sources I trusted versus what sources I ignored, get out. You have no place here.) The charges against Marlowe would have presumably entangled Sir Walter Raleigh (a co-tobacco user?) and the Earl of Northumberland. Maybe it was just a disgruntled drunk who stabbed him. In the eye. As he awaited a trial that would possibly be embarrassing to those in power. These things happen.
So raise a glass to Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, poet, playwright, spy, spendthrift, drunkard, and maybe Shakespeare. Escape the bonds of capitalism, jump the turnstiles of something or another, sneak out of work early, call in a bomb threat (DO NOT DO THIS!), whatever it takes to get out and get yourself to your local watering hole. And give a toast to this week’s patron poet. What could go wrong?*
I Must Have Wanton Poets
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.
*Avoid bars if you are possibly a Catholic, atheist, poet, playwright who has been arrested in the last ten days for heresy, particularly if said heresy might entangle national heroes and or established aristocrats. If you fall into any of the aforementioned categories and insist upon bar attendance, it is the official recommendation of mightstainyourshirt.com that you invest in protective eye wear.