Home  »  Volume VII: English CAVALIER AND PURITAN  »  § 3. Shakerley Marmion; Cupid and Psyche

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

IV. Lesser Caroline Poets

§ 3. Shakerley Marmion; Cupid and Psyche

Yet another short piece of the same kind, revived, like those previously mentioned, though in a small edition, rather less than a century ago by the industry of Singer, is the Cupid and Psyche (1637) of Shakerley Marmion the dramatist. Marmion possesses the immense advantage of having the Apuleian narrative to keep him straight and clear; and, though his poem is not a mere paraphrase and, still less, a mere translation, he wisely deviates little from the original in substance or order of telling. This, with the beauty of the story itself, puts it at no small premium in comparison with the others. But Marmion has far less power than Chamberlayne, and not quite so much prettiness as Chalkhill. Metrically, he is very interesting, because he illustrates not merely one but both sides of the “battle of the couplets.” He is sometimes inclined to enjambment, but sometimes, also, and, perhaps, more frequently (in a manner which suggests a “son” of Ben Jonson), adopts the opposite form. Nor is he unsuccessful with it, though the looseness of his rimes (which are sometimes mere assonances) is against him. Moreover, that very clue of a ready made and distinct story relieves him of the temptation to discursive extravagance in the literal sense, to which Chamberlayne and Chalkhill succumb. For it is one of the points of interest and importance here, that the characteristics of verse and narrative exercise a constant reflex action on each other. The want of foresight as to what has to be said loosens the bounds of the measure of saying it; and the absence of a sharp “pull-up” in the measure encourages the tendency to divagate.