Christopher Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love is, on the surface, a romantic poem told from the perspective of a shepherd calling out to a nymph who he hopes will be enticed to living with him. He sets forth an image of crystilline tranquilty, a paradise frozen in amber where the two will be happy for the rest of the foreseeable future.
The poem’s first lines read “Come live with me and be my love/ and we will all the pleasures prove” (Marlowe lines 1-2). Already there are promises being given to the as of yet unnamed love, only alluded to in the poem’s title. The speaker is already using a rather seductive tone to allure his love, and even though it is unclear as to what kind of life he may lead, he assuredly has much to promise and will bestow lavish gifts to his intended audience. It is then hinted, “That valleys, groves, hills and fields,/Woods or steepy mountain yields.” (Marlowe 3-4) that perhaps we are not involved with a speaker who resides in an urban setting or certainly not a scholar. There is slant rhyme capping the first two lines of this quatrain, an element and tool utilized much more frequently in poetry of the era than today. There is already an established tone of assurance and a gentle introduction on the behalf of Mr. Marlowe.
The second stanza is much more detailed in its intent. The second stanza, beginning with a couplet of “There we will sit upon the rocks,/And see the shepherds feed their flocks,/By shallow rivers to whose falls/Melodious birds sing madrigals” (Marlowe lines 5-8) provides both a lovely image of a couple watching and an understated explaination owing to why the speaker is involving nature...
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...Come live with me and be my love.” (Marlowe lines 19-20) It’s interesting to note how quickly Marlowe moves from jewelry and repeats his invitation with absolutely no promise of emotional connection or longevity.
The next stanza begins with another example of alliteration “The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing/For thy delight each May morning:” (Marlowe lines 21-22). Almost as if a last effort to entice the nymph with the promise of lavish treatment and personal delight, the shepherd promises that not only his but all the shepherds’ assistants will personally sing to the nymph each morning, though perhaps this is only my interpretation after reading the response. The final couplet “If these delights thy mind may move,/Then live with me and be my love.” (Marlowe lines 23-24) repeats the opening couplet and solidifies the shepherd’s invitation.
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