The Marlowe Society

Marlowe in Exile?

Marlowe in Exile?

3. Sonnet 74

A Marlowe/ Shakespeare Debate Page

Research by A.D.Wraight in her book The Story that the Sonnets Tell1 led her to conclude that Christopher Marlowe was in fact the real author of Shake-speare's Sonnets.

One of the most intriguing of Shakespeare's autobiographical sonnets is Sonnet 74.

The lines "...... that fell arrest, / Without all bail ......" do not refer to any known incident in the life of William Shakespeare. Yet Christopher Marlowe was killed, if the official account of his "death" at Deptford is to be taken literally, when he was struck above the right eye by a "wretch's knife" (Line 11) i.e. by Ingram Frizer's dagger.

"That fell arrest" and the "bail" of the first three lines of this sonnet are part of the metaphor reminding us that there is no return (bail) from death (fell arrest), YET the words "arrest" and "bail" echo known events in Marlowe's life in the days prior to the Deptford incident. He was arrested after being named (by Thomas Kyd when under torture) and released on bail whilst further evidence against him was collected.

Sonnet 74

But be contented: when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee.
The earth can have but earth, which is his due,
My spirit is thine, the better part of me.
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead,
The coward conquest of a wretch's knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
The worth of that, is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee remains.

Shake-speare's Sonnets - Sonnet 74

  • Note 1: A.D.Wraight, The Story That The Sonnets Tell (Adam Hart Publishing, 1995). Back to Text