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A Discourse of Remours for the Amorous

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The great playwright Christopher Marlowe also wrote one of the most famous lyrical poems in British literature, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." In this pastoral portrait, Marlowe reveals the shepherd's desire for a certain young lady to be his love. In "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," Sir Walter Raleigh voices the young lady's answer to this invitation. The two poems share the identical structures of rhyme scheme and meter. Also, the speakers share a similar desire for youthful love. However, these similarities are overshadowed by the differences in the author's backgrounds which, in turn, influence the starkly different characteristics of the speakers of the poems--their view of reality and their motive for love.

One obvious similarity in the two poems is their structure. "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" mimics Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" exactly. Both poems consist of four-line stanzas, or quatrains. Also, each quatrain consists of the fusion of two rhyme couplets. Furthermore, the predominant meter in both poems is iambic tetrameter. This means that each line consists of four iambs, or two-syllable units of rhythm in which the first syllable is unstressed and the second is stressed. It seems quite appropriate and respectful that Raleigh would construct his reply in the same manner as Marlowe's poem. One might speculate, however, that Raleigh is instead subtly mocking Marlowe's strict structure which would serve to reinforce the nymph's subtle mocking of the shepherd. One other similarity lies within the words and feelings of the speakers of the two poems. Nature is a dominant theme throughout both poems and both the shepherd and the nymph share an obvious affection for the natural beauty th...

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...riences influence the differing thoughts and feelings of the shepherd and the nymph. Like the shepherd, Marlowe was somewhat of a social recluse without much experience in relationships. This is emulated in the shepherd's naïve wishful thinking that he and the nymph could share an eternal, youthful love. Similar to Marlowe's scandalous associations, the shepherd tries to seduce the nymph with a litany of gifts. Much like Raleigh's experiences with the Queen, the nymph knows that a relationship should be founded on more than transient gifts and empty promises. In the end, the nymph acknowledges that she would accept the shepherd's offer "could youth last" and "had joys no date" (21-22). Like the shepherd, she longs for such things to be true, but like Raleigh, she is a skeptic, retaining faith only in reason's power to discount the "folly" of "fancy's spring."
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