A Sacred Parody of the Passionate Shepherd: Melville and Marlowe

This week I learned about another 17th-century parody of Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” written by the Scottish religious poet Elizabeth Melville (Lady Culross) entitled “A Call to Come to Christ.” Elizabeth Melville (c.1578-c.1640) was a Scottish presbyterian devotional poet. She is celebrated as the first Scottish woman to have her poetry appear in print, and is the author of a significant body of poetry in manuscript. You can read more about her life here, Elizabeth Melville Biography.

You can look at the facsimile images and read the transcriptions of “A Call to Come to Christ” on the Early Modern Women’s Research Network (EMWRN). The EMWRN is an Australian-based network of scholars which aims to bring the often institutionally-isolated scholars of early modern women’s writing into dialogue with others in the field, both within Australia and internationally. The Material Cultures of Early Modern Women’s Writing Digital Archive presents online editions of women’s writing that circulated in a variety of forms in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This Digital Archive is fabulous because most of the texts presented were not printed in actual editions. Thanks to the EMWRN, they are available!

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“A Call to Call to Come to Christ” from the Reinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Boswell Collection, Gen MSS 89, Series XV, Box 105, Folder 1925, item 5.


I am enormously grateful to Dr Sarah Ross, Senior Lecturer of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, for contacting me and informing me about this wonderful 17th-century parody. You can read all about Elizabeth Melville’s poetry in Dr Sarah Ross’ Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain (2015). 

New Quarter Update

It’s been a few months since I refocused the project and began creating this WP site. Since then I have been getting the advice from professors at UCSB. I have been collaborating with the Early Modern Center at UCSB as well as the English Broadside Ballad Archive. James Kearney, my Renaissance Studies major advisor and past-professor, and Megan Palmer-Browne, Assistant Director of EBBA, have been a help since the beginning of my project. Also on board is Eric Bell, Singing Team Manager at EBBA, and Patricia Fumerton, the Director of EBBA. They will be helping me as collaborators and editors of the site. Continue reading

A New Lens

The title of this post has to do with refocusing,  not changing the direction one is looking but changing the focus a bit. I’ve done a bit of refocusing on this project. In the beginning, it was to be a 20+ page paper and now it has become so much more. Not a paper with page after page of criticism, analysis, facts, and citations, but a space that gives information as well as encouraging ongoing interaction. This site exists to honor what Christopher Marlowe’s poem is all about: inspiring, reflecting, and creating.

The site is not live yet. Less than half the pages have anything written on them and those are not even completed. This post will also be private until the site itself is live. However, the documentation of my research is an essential part of this project.

I will using the blog part of this site for all the documentation. Any videos or recordings will also be posted on here.


Written by Jessica Sparks
This post was originally written February 27, 2016
Come Live With Me: Living the History of a Ballad