Essay on The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Chirstopher Marlowe

Essay on The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Chirstopher Marlowe

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Written only a year apart, Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" (1599) and its seemingly contradictory retort, Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" (1600), collectively set a fascinating scene. During a first read through of each of the poems, the plots seem fairly straightforward. However, one may be led to believe that Marlowe's poem was about nothing more than an eloquent confession of love and that Sir Walter Raleigh's reply was merely a rejection of that very confession. In reality, each poem contains much deeper meaning than is often interpreted during a first read through. The consistency of the "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" being an exact opposite is mildly entertaining as every line of "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" was individually countered and rejected. For example, "...we will sit upon the rocks," and "See[] the shepherds feed their flocks" being replied to with "Time drives the flocks from field to fold, when rivers rage and rocks grow cold." In the first line, Marlowe describes sitting on rocks watching flocks of sheep in the pasture below, while in the second Raleigh adds that the sheep have already been sent to their pens, no longer able to be seen, and the rocks intended for sitting will only grow cold. All of that being said, it can be seen upon closer examination of each of the poems that there is more meaning than just a rejection to a confession of love.
When reading these two poems one after the other, one of the first things the reader should notice is the two contrasting tones. "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" describes everything with a highly optimistic tenor, while "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" leaves the reader feeling cold and lonely...


... middle of paper ...


...tating that time continues on.
In conclusion, the apparent meanings and the actual meanings of Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" are quite different. With a more analytical outlook and taking the time to break up each line into more elaborate meanings, it quickly becomes clear that the poets put value not only to each word of the poems, but to the structure and order of the words as well. The use of rhetorical devices and rhyme schemes allowed these poets to engrave deeper messages into seemingly simple and pleasing pieces of literature and it becomes apparent that Raleigh's poetic reply was his way of arguing Marlowe's views of living in the moment in the form of another metaphor.


Works Cited

Magee, Dr. Bruce. Louisiana Anthology. Louisiana Tech University. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

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