A Comparison of 'The Passionate Shepherd to his Love' and 'The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd'
In Elizabethan times poetry was a very important part of Elizabethan
life. Elizabeth 1st adored plays and poetry and was a major patron,
meaning that in a way she encouraged sponsorship of the writers and
poets of her time, so that they were encourage to perform and write.
These two poems are examples of pastoral poetry, a form of poetry that
deals with the lives of shepherds and shows a contrast between the
innocence and simplicity of rural life, compared with the
artificiality of city and court life. The pastoral dramas first
appeared in the 15th and 16th century. “The Nymph’s Reply to The
Shepherd” is a parody as it is a reply to “The Passionate Shepherd to
his Love” and answers verse by verse, the original poem. It alters it
to make a point about reality and time passing, but is quite humorous.
Sir Walter Ralegh-writer of “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” was
born in 1552 and was the discoverer of tobacco and potatoes. He was a
good friend to her majesty, Elizabeth I who knighted him and appointed
him Captain of the Queen’s Guard. He was then found out to have
married one of Elizabeth’s Maids of Honour and so was locked in the
Tower of London where later on, in 1618, he was beheaded for being a
“traitor”. Christopher Marlowe-writer of “The Passionate Shepherd to
his Love”, was born in the same year as Shakespeare, 1564, and was the
son of a shoemaker. Many believe that he was a rival playwright to
Shakespeare. He (Marlowe) received his Batchelor of Arts in 1584 and
his master’s degree in 1587. Marlowe was thought to be a spy and when
having dinner with some friends, at a tavern, he was stabbed after
disagreeing over the bill. This was on the 30th May 1593. Both of
these poets were admired writers of their time and their poems are
still highly appreciated. Marlowe and Ralegh knew each other and
Ralegh’s poem is a witty response to his friend’s pastoral verse.
In verse one of “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”, Christopher
Marlowe gets straight to the point by saying, “Come live with me”.
This shows just how eager the shepherd is and then there is a pause
where he goes on to say, “…and by my love”. This is more of a gentle
tone and softens what has just been said. In the next line there are
two uses of alliteration, “And we will all the pleasures prove…”, and
the ‘w’s’ and ‘p’s’ add a persuasive definite feel to the verse. In
the last two lines of this stanza, Marlowe lists all the things the
Nymph and the shepherd will do together, and by listing them, he is
making it seem as though there is an amazing variety of landscape to
enjoy. These areas he is listing are all dramatic, natural pleasures
and have not been changed by man, nothing is artificial. When it says,