Comparing The Passionate Shepherd to His Love and Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
and the stark contrast of the treatment of an identical theme, that of
love within the framework of pastoral life. I intend to look at each
poem separately to give my interpretation of the poet's intentions and
then discuss their techniques and how the chosen techniques affect the
portal of an identical theme.
The poem The Passionate Shepherd to His Love appears to be about the
Elizabethan courtly ideal of living with the barest necessities, like
a shepherd, in the country.
"We will all the pleasures prove that hills and valleys, dales and
fields' Or woods or steppy mountains yields."
Why Marlowe writes this poem is difficult to fully understand. Perhaps
it is a reaction against the life he has lived so far ,in the courts
of London. Maybe it is a genuine love poem to his mistress, a sort of
offer of a way of life. Both concepts, though, underline the
simplistic romanticism of the poem.
" Come live with me and be my love"
Written in any stanza of a poem would suggest that the poem was about
love, but here Marlowe chooses to start and end the poem with the same
line. This suggests two things that this indeed was the reason for
writing the poem, to woo his love. Or maybe is the line was not meant
to be taken literally just really to prove that what he says really
does mean something and to emphasize the subject and the romanticism
of the poem
I intend to discuss the concept if the love poem first. Marlowe paints
a picture of the romantic dream of love. The scene is pastoral and
idyllic, of the simple shepherd surrounded by his sheep in a beautiful
rural paradise. The weather is usually perfect, but when it is not,
there is the cave and the warm fire.
"The shepherd swains shall dance and sing, For thy delight each may
This, Marlowe implies, is the perfect environment of love. It is an
environment where love will neither change nor end, but remain
pristine and perfect. The poem is the language of love, the moment
leading to seduction, but it is not the language of realism. I belive
that when Marlowe was writing the poem he new that the what is was
writing was improbable fantasy but his is not the object of the poem
to be real, just to seduce his "love". So he writies about every
Elizabethans dream and makes it better yet by inculdng all the riches
of a wealthy persons life.
"Fair lined slippers for the cold, with buckles of the purest gold"
The other, and perhaps more complex, interpretation of the poem,
reflects a response to the life Marlowe has lived so far and his
reaction to it The poem is written as a love poem but if you look more
deeply is more complicated. The idyll the Elizabethan court dreamed of
was that of "the simple life", as such. The romanticised...