Come Live With Me
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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The words are one of the most famous poems in the English language, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593). The poem was published after his death in 1599 and was sometimes attributed to Shakespeare.

A broadside of A most excellent Ditty of the Lover's promises to his best beloved sung to the tune Live with me, and be my Love was entered in the Stationers' Register on June 11, 1603 by the Assignes of Thomas Symcocke.*

According to One Hundred Songs of England, the tune was discovered by Sir John Hawkins in "a manuscript as old as Shakespeare's time " and was printed in Steven's edition of Shakespeare. It was also in a Second Book of Ayres, some to sing and play to the Base-Violl alone; others to be sung to the Lute and Base-Violl, etc., by W. Corkine (1612).

This version of the poem is from 100 Songs of England. Some of the words do not exactly match most published versions of the poem. Two extra verses here are from the poem as published in Palgrave's Golden Treasury.

"Kit" Marlowe was a brilliant playwright. His works included Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, The Jew of Malta, Edward the Second, and Doctor Faustus. Marlowe, who may have worked as a spy for Walsingham, was killed in a tavern brawl. There is speculation the brawl was an arranged assassination. There is also speculation that Shakespeare was actually Marlowe.

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hill and valley, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

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

There I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined 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 shepherds' 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.


Love's Answer:
(From Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music
Composed by Sir Walter Raleigh
See links for complete poem)


If that the world and love were young
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might be move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Related Links
From One Hundred Songs of England
See Bibliography for full information.
*And Bruce Olsen's Roots of Folk Website