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What Face Can Launch a Thousand Ships? "If"

Last week by chance I happened to listen to this song for the first time in my life.


Before, I had had no idea that the song existed. So I just half-listened to it, about how a picture worth a thousand words, and thought, "Good old proverb." In fact, I had a full entry in my diary discussing how a word could give you a thousand pictures as well.

However, when the song went to the second stanza, it went, "If a face could launch a thousand ships..," and I just immediately straightened my back.

"A face that launched a thousand ships," I thought. "It's Marlowe."

In his play Doctor Faustus, his character Faust was talking about the legendary Helen of Troy, the cause of Trojan War and the ultimate destruction of the city.

"Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium--"

I know that is article is so trivial. It is more like a diary entry than anything worth putting in one's blog. However, this odd encounter with Marlowe reference in so sweet a song reminds me that you can find gems in places that you never know. For me, knowing what the songwriter was thinking about when he wrote the song adds depth to the song and makes it ten times more exciting. For example, without knowing that the face that launched a thousand ships was Helen's, wouldn't that line of the song be weird? Why would a face launch a thousand ships? Even if the person knew Marlowe, without knowing who Helen was and her role in Trojan War, it would still make no sense.

Knowledge is power. And fun.


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