Helen, the One and Only

The Face That Launch’d A Thousand Ships

Christopher Marlowe (died 1593, at probably 29 years), English.

Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack’d;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.

Photo of unknown provenance, Naumberg Cathedral

O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear’d to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa’s azur’d arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!

Marchioness Uta, Naumberg Cathedral, Germany, c. 1246 CE, limestone.

One thought on “Helen, the One and Only

  1. The 13th Century Marchioness is exquisite. The poem so appropriate. Thanks for this.

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