The Latin motto translates as "That which nourishes me, destroys me." Oh, so true, but I'll be having carrot cake for breakfast this week, anyway...
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Beltane.
I opened the Gates of Summer this year by baking one of my specialty carrot cakes (with homemade lemon-and-cream cheese frosting), downloading a couple of photos of the first two crop circles of the season, writing a sonnet, and making an online purchase of two books and a video by various people who think it is very likely that Christopher Marlowe was the true author of everything currently ascribed to the pen of William Shakespeare. (Writing the sonnet– a little bit of rhymed magick for when my Full Moon Ring is finished– put me in mind of the whole Marlowe-is-Shakespeare thing, which made me go look for the DVD Much Ado About Something on Amazon, and so on and so forth…)
Just for the record, I most definitely count myself a Marlovian– the stylistic and thematic similarities of plays by Marlowe and Shakespeare (i.e., stylistic elements and themes that are pretty much identical) make it highly likely everything was written by one person: Kit Marlowe, who already had a proven track-record as a playwright and poet. I also think the idea that Marlowe’s death at Deptford was faked (to allow him to escape being brought to trial on charges that he was an atheist apostate and therefore a traitor to the Crown because he was not ideologically on board with the Church of England) has merit for at least a couple of reasons– 1) Marlowe worked for Sir Francis Walsingham as the Elizabethan version of a CIA spook (as did the two other men that were with him when he was supposedly killed), and 2) the fact that his (supposed) corpse was hastily buried in an unmarked grave after a rather slap-dash inquest is highly suspect, given Marlowe’s then-fame as a poet.
Then there’s the fact that the surviving scraps of writing actually attributable to William Shakespeare– signatures– strongly point to the likelihood that the historical Will Shakespeare only held a pen when he was obliged to sign his name, which makes Marlowe’s claim to being the actual author look even stronger. In his youth, Kit Marlowe was something of a prodigy with a poet’s command of the English language early on, and he most definitely did know which end of the pen to put to paper. He left us plays and poems under his own name that sound “so much like Shakespeare, they could be Shakespeare’s early work”… and, come to think of it, where exactly is Will Shakespeare’s early work? It strains my credulity to believe that William I-can-hardly-spell-my-own-name Shakespeare suddenly wrote brilliant plays from day one, with no prior poems or plays on record and had no previous reputation whatsoever as a poet (or as a writer of any stripe, actually)…
At any rate, if folks are interested in finding out more about what is politely referred to as the Authorship Question, I can heartily recommend the following–
1) The DVD Much Ado About Something, a 90-minute documentary film by Mike Rubbo that lays the situation out in a very nicely balanced way. (I saw it when it originally aired on Frontline.)
2) The book The Shakespeare-Marlowe Connection: A New Study Of The Authorship Question, by Samuel L. Blumenfeld.
3) The book Marlowe’s Ghost: The Blacklisting Of The Man Who Was Shakespeare, by Daryl Pinksen.
4) The blog The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection (This is the blog of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society, and features articles by scholars and researchers who think there is good reason to credit the extant works of Shakespeare to Kit Marlowe.)
5) The website for the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society. There is lots of basic info posted on the site that will give one a quick yet excellent grounding in the issues surrounding the Authorship Question.
The DVD and books are all available at Amazon, though be warned that the Blumenfeld book is pricey at $45 for a paperback edition. It is well worth the money, however, if you have any interest in the topic of Marlowe-as-Shakespeare.
One last-but-not-least word about Christopher Marlowe– in 2002, he was finally given a memorial place in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. It’s a small, stained glass plaque which– though better than no place of remembrance in Poets’ Corner at all for so long– still seems shameful given the serious possibility that Kit Marlowe is the true author of Hamlet, King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Also notice the question mark in front of the death-date– the doubts about Kit Marlowe’s death are legitimate enough for the question mark to be there on that quiet little piece of glass in Westminster…
If I am ever lucky enough to make it over to England and get the chance to visit Poets' Corner, I'll be bringing some flowers with me. Seriously.
The Hare’s Sonnet
To thee, May Moon, I sing sweet praise,
Thou White Shell in the Sea of Night,
Thou Mistress-Witch of Magick Ways,
Thou Queen of Heaven, stars’ delight!
Upon mine hand, this Ring I place,
In token of thy Face so fair.
Grant me thy faerie wit and grace,
The Wise Blood of thy Lunar Hare.
I am, by thee, a Power old:
Thy Sacred Mirror doth dwell in me.
What I stop, shall stand and hold,
And what I bless, shall Blessed Be.
No art shall maze mine ear, mine eye–
I am The Hare ‘Twixt Earth And Sky!
(Yes, yes, I know my sonnet is in iambic tetrameter, not pentameter, but there is one Shakespearean/Marlovian sonnet that is in tetrameter, and Christopher Marlowe did use iambic tetrameter quite a bit– “Come live with me and be my love…”)
Anyway, Happy Beltane, Kit, and thanks for the help with the sonnet. Wish you could be here for some belated literary credit… and also a piece of homemade carrot cake…