Love comes in many shapes and forms; it can arise abruptly or creep up slowly over the passing years. For some people, it comes effortlessly; others, strenuously. Likewise, people often react to this commanding emotion in different ways. Many become so enamored with the immediate idea of love that they wander day to day in a dream-like state, completely filled with romantic notions and consumed by the present. Such is the case for the shepherd in “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” by Christopher Marlowe. In this poem, a shepherd reaches out to his love through a pastoral ballad in attempt to woo her. In the companion poem, “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd,” Sir Walter Raleigh writes a well-written and witty response to Marlowe’s shepherd. Despite the fact that both poems share similar structure and use of imagery, each provide a specific and contradictory point of view on the nature of love.
Since Raleigh’s poem is a direct reply to Marlowe’s poem, it is no coincidence that the two poems have identical structure: both contain six stanzas in length consisting of four lines each and nearly every line has eight syllables. Similarly, a simple rhyme scheme of couplets is incorporated into these poems. If one didn’t know the authors of the poems, he or she might think the poems were written by the same person because the structures of the poems reflect each other so precisely. This of course was Raleigh’s intent. He wished to make certain that there could be absolutely no doubt that the nymph in his poem was responding to Marlowe’s shepherd. Another association between these two authors is their use of alliteration. Both exhibit the same alliteration; however, there is a difference in the sounds. Marlowe gives his poem more of ...
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...thy love. (21-24)
Though Sir Walter Raleigh modeled his poem to mirror Christopher Marlowe’s in many ways such as: structure, images, and use of literary techniques; it is very clear that the characters show differing perspectives on what love means. Raleigh’s reply astutely bends the ideas and images that Marlowe presented into a more mature outlook than the fanciful passion of the shepherd. The idealistic world that the shepherd dreamed of may have seemed wonderful, but it was only that— a dream.
Marlowe, Christopher. “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan et al. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2010. 3-7. Print.
Raleigh, Sir Walter. “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan et al. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2010. 3-7. Print.