Poetry Friday’s Valentine Passion Smack-down: Marlowe vs. Bieber

February 14, 2014 — 9 Comments

I planned a “Poetry Passion Smack-down” for Valentine’s Day 2014, but the Nor’easter that roared across the state of Connecticut kept the school shuttered over an extended President’s Day weekend. So, here is a chance for you, the reader, to be in the class and vote.

The plan was to pit 16th Century poet Christopher Marlowe against 21st Century Pop Star Justin Bieber in a “wooing” contest. The question?: Which poem speaks to you?

Each artist tries to persuade his beloved of his desire using the same two arguments:

  1. I’ll buy you anything;
  2. If you agree, we’ll spend lots of time dancing and singing.

Each artist also sounds a bit desperate. Marlowe’s “Passionate Shepherd” escalates his promises, maybe because of her lack of response to each line. His intentions intensify from one quatrain to the next, offering gifts from “beds of roses” to “silver dishes for thy meat.” One wonders, however, how likely such riches would be if one married a shepherd, passionate or not.

Bieber, on the other hand, works the pity angle, pleading that he will be “going down, down, down, down” because his “…first love won’t be around.” To establish the level of his desperation, he drags in his friend and rap artist Ludacris who makes the metaphorical connection between love and a caffeine rush from Starbucks, and who suggests there’s a headache coming from caffeine withdrawal.

But let us allow the poets to entreat their own cases:

First up, Christopher Marlowe making his petition from “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”:

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my Love.

Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.

Next up, The Bieber’s plea, with his catchy refrains that are easily remembered in a song that was the first ever to go 12-times platinum. They may be simple lyrics, but there is no doubting the economic riches that came with this hit:

Baby, Baby

You know you love me, I know you care
Just shout whenever, and I’ll be there
You are my love, you are my heart
And we will never ever ever be apart

Are we an item? Girl, quit playing
We’re just friends, what are you saying?
Say there’s another and look right in my eyes
My first love broke my heart for the first time
And I was like…

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

Oh, for you I would have done whatever
And I just can’t believe we ain’t together
And I wanna play it cool, but I’m losin’ you
I’ll buy you anything, I’ll buy you any ring
And I’m in pieces, baby fix me
And just shake me ’til you wake me from this bad dream
I’m going down, down, down, down
And I just can’t believe my first love won’t be around

And I’m like
Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

[Ludacris:]
Luda! When I was 13, I had my first love,
There was nobody that compared to my baby
And nobody came between us or could ever come above
She had me going crazy, oh, I was star-struck,
She woke me up daily, don’t need no Starbucks.
She made my heart pound, it skipped a beat when I see her in the street and
At school on the playground but I really wanna see her on the weekend.
She knows she got me dazing cause she was so amazing
And now my heart is breaking but I just keep on saying…

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

I’m gone (Yeah Yeah Yeah, Yeah Yeah Yeah)
Now I’m all gone (Yeah Yeah Yeah, Yeah Yeah Yeah)
Now I’m all gone (Yeah Yeah Yeah, Yeah Yeah Yeah)
Now I’m all gone (gone, gone, gone…)
I’m gone

To be sure his public understood the lyrics, Bieber shared the message of the song with MTV News, “I’m chasing her around, trying to get her, and she’s kind of playing hard to get, but I’m persistent. I keep going.”

Over four hundred years earlier, Marlowe said much the same; he did not have the advantage of MTV to explain.

Poetry Friday is hosted at Teacher Dance this week; lots of other great love poetry there as well!

9 responses to Poetry Friday’s Valentine Passion Smack-down: Marlowe vs. Bieber

  1. 

    I’ll go for Marlowe anytime! I love the comparison! This would make a fun lesson for my students, do you mind if I use it? Happy Valentine’s Day, Colette!

    • 

      Go ahead…I got the idea from a workshop that was using Bieber to decode a number of classic poems…this one was just obvious to me.
      Happy Valentine to you as well.

  2. 

    Such fun to compare, & sorry you missed out with your students. I just don’t like the ‘baby, baby, baby’ stuff, so I have to go with Marlowe, yet I do see in its own light, the promises are there from both. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • 

      Marlowe is winning…I would hope my students feel the same, but the Bieber $$$$ could sway them!
      In fact, I may still use the lesson and change the focus from love to economics.
      Thanks for commenting…

  3. 

    Now this is one surefire way of showing exactly what the young Bieber is made of. Perhaps a few days as a shepherd would allow him to go beyond “and I’m like Baby Baby Baby oooh like baby baby baby nooo”. Love this post. :) Happy valentine’s.

  4. 

    I think Bieber’s repeated use of “Baby Baby Baby” doomed his efforts. Interesting juxtaposition. Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

  5. 

    Poor Bieber isn’t doing too well in the poll! What a great lesson…hope you will do it on Tuesday, even though Valentine’s Day will be picked through on the clearance table by then.

  6. 

    I have to say I will take Marlowe. Sitting on rocks together, rose beds made for me, watching the birds, and all of the promises of time seem somehow more convincing.

    Sorry, Biebs.
    Cathy

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