History’s Badass Love Poets

Haters gonna hate, but poets impress the ladies

We here at Man Cave Daily like to deal with our emotions in the traditional manly way– by punching walls and screaming incoherently. However, we recognise that there are other, quieter, nobler and less knuckle breaking ways to articulate your feelings, such as poetry.

Now, before you spray out your breakfast scotch in masculine indignation, we know that some like to think that poetry is merely the medium of choice for mascara-smudging self-harmers who wear their sister’s jeans and weep endlessly about nothing in particular. These stereotypes not only do a disservice to poetry, but also to some of the manly men behind the poetry. Some of the greatest love poems in history were penned by men who were just as likely to punch thee in the sternum as compare thee to a summer’s day. Men such as…


"Are you jealous of my hat? You're jealous of my hat."

The Original Marlboro Man.

Now what is Love, I pray thee, tell?
 It is that fountain and that well
Where pleasure and repentance dwell;

Sir Walter Raleigh. Writer. Adventurer. Beard-haver.

It takes a special kind of man to introduce himself as “Adventurer”, and that kind of man rarely buys his own drinks. Sure, Walt’s adventures consisted mostly of oppressing the Irish and discovering parts of America that were technically already discovered by the Spanish, but he certainly made it work; becoming rich, famous and personal buddies with Queen Elizabeth I. In fact, he is believed to have gotten into the Queen’s good graces by coining the popular romance trope of spreading his cloak over a puddle of mud for her to walk over, proving the timeless advantage of both being a smooth bastard and wearing a cloak.

Though he travelled further than many in the name of exploration, Sir Walter is best known for what he didn’t find; the legendary Cities of Gold. “Legendary” in this case meaning “Non-existent”. Still, he did popularise the use of potato and tobacco, and everybody knows there’s nothing more manly than smoking a potato.

Eventually, Spain decided to put an end to Sir Walter’s long career of pissing-off-the-Spanish by exerting their influence to have him arrested and beheaded. Upon his impending death Raleigh said to his executioner; “Let us dispatch… I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear.” Thus proving that there are few things more badass than the right line at the right time.

Resembles which action hero? An adventurer seeking to plunder lost cities while thwarting militant superpowers? That’s pure Indiana Jones (or as he was known in Elizabethan England, Midlands Jones).


When not being the guy Shakespeare looked up to, Marlowe was a hedonistic spy, so don't you pretend poets can't be badass.

When not being the guy Shakespeare looked up to, Marlowe was a spy and a wild hedonist, so don’t you pretend poets can’t be badass.

“Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove

Commonly known as the predecessor of Shakespeare, Marlowe was a foremost Elizabethan tragedian before it was cool. But, like a latter-day Rihanna, Marlowe is as much remembered for the legend surrounding his antic-festooned personal life as for his art.

While he is fondly believed to have been a brawler, an “Enemy of God” and a tobacco-addicted slag, Marlowe’s most enduring legend is that he had been an actual secret agent, which, if you consult your glossary of baddassery, you will see ranks somewhere between Motorcycle Assassin and Playboy Warrior. This means that, while he certainly penned a pretty line, there’s a good chance he did so whilst escaping from some goons on whatever the sixteenth century equivalent of a jet-ski was.

There isn’t any solid proof that Marlow was the James Bond of his day, because a secret agent that everybody knows about isn’t living up to his job description. However, there was some compelling evidence. During his time studying at Cambridge, rather than play Quidditch or whatever with his buddies, Marlowe would take long, mysterious absences and upon his return would throw money around like he was trying to invent hip hop. His unusual behavior, coupled with rumors of a possible Roman Catholic conversion, meant that the University was hesitant to award him his Masters degree. Hesitant, that is, until they received a letter from the Privy Council stating that Marlowe was working “On Matters Touching The Benefit Of This Country.” Again, seeing as Marlowe lived in the sixteenth century, its improbable that “Matters Touching The Benefit Of This Country” involved tuxedos or laser-watches, but we like to think that he at least had in his possession a weaponized cod-piece.

Marlowe’s demise began when his atheist views led him to be arrested for heresy; a crime that could still get you burned at the stake at the time. However, rather than being jailed or tortured, Marlowe was shown a surprising amount of leniency, and was effectively allowed to walk free. His luck ran out soon after when an argument over a lodging house bill ended with him being stabbed in the face.

Death by rapidly-escalating-bar-brawl might not seem like the most heroic of ends, until you consider that the three companions involved in the fight were all somehow tied to Marlowe’s alleged secret service recruiter. When the circumstances of your death inspire a tense burst of organ music, then, my friend, you have died like a man.

Resembles which action hero? He’s the original 00-agent. Even James Bond never owned a pet bear.

LORD BYRON (1788-1824)

"Sure I could have stayed in the past. Could have even been king. But I...uh... died instead."

“Sure I could have stayed in the past. Could have even been king. But I…uh… died instead.”

She walks in beauty, like the night,
Of cloudless climes and starry skies.

Once famously described as “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know,” (which he undoubtedly had tattooed over his midriff in old German typeface), Lord Byron was widely known more for his sexual shenanigans than his poetry. In fact, rumour fallout from his supposed incesty, homosexy, adulteresque sexploitations led him to voluntarily exile himself from Britain and move to a place where his debauchery would be less commented on. As Los Angeles had yet to come into its own, he settled for Venice instead.

What is less known about Byron, however, is that he is a Greek national hero. He fought with Greece for independence against the Ottoman Empire, using his own money to refit their navy fleet, and, even though he had absolutely no military experience, taking command of part of the rebel army. Apparently, if not for his untimely death from a violent fever, he may even have been made king of Greece!

Spoiler alert.

Spoiler alert.

Though recognised as one of the foremost romantics, Byron was a hell-raiser by nature; often credited with being the father of the modern-style celebrity. If you ever need to know what kind of badass Byron was, consider that, when a student at Trinity College in Cambridge, and being told that he wasn’t allowed to keep a dog, he muttered something probably more eloquent than “Screw you,” and decided to keep a bear instead. That’s sort of like someone setting fire to the room after being asked to refrain from smoking.

So the next time you’re in need of the right words to go a-wooing, consider quoting the bear-smuggling, empire-fighting, sex machine.

Man, he even has Bruce Campbell's chin.

Man, he even has Bruce Campbell’s chin.

Resembles which action hero? A foreigner who blunders into a war, takes charge and could have been king? Throw in some talking skeletons and that’s damn near the plot of Army of Darkness. So did he really die of a fever…or did he return to our time?

diehardvalentine1 Historys Badass Love Poets

Yippie-ki-yay, secret admirer.

Steve Stevenson isn’t much of a poet, but he can battle rap with the best of them. Check him out on Twitter.

Christopher Titus has nothing to do with this image, but isn't he a great comic?

The top hat dignifies any headbang

If you still don’t think romance can be badass, study the Ways Die Hard Is like Valentine’s Day. And once it’s impressed your woman into wedding you, let Steve tell you how to Get Married Like A Man.

More from Steve Wetherell

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