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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

If All the Pens That Ever Poets Held

Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)

IF all the pens that ever poets held

Had fed the feeling of their master’s thoughts,

And every sweetness that inspir’d their hearts,

Their minds, and muses, on admired themes;

If all the heavenly quintessence they ’still

From their immortal flowers of poesy,

Wherein as in a mirror we perceive

The highest reaches of a human wit;

If these had made one poem’s period,

And all combined in beauty’s worthiness,

Yet should there hover in their restless heads

One thought, one grace, one wonder at the least

Which into words no virtue can digest.