I have chosen “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” by Christopher Marlowe and also “The Nymphs Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh. I want to start by talking about “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”. The poem demonstrates to me a man that is desperate for love and companionship and will do just about anything to get it. He starts out by saying, “Come live with me and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove that valleys, groves, hills, and fields, woods, or steepy mountain yields”(Marlowe 691). He is telling her that he will give her this natural beauty and if she accepts then he wants her to come live with him. He then offers her entertainment from the community, beds made of flowers, and gowns made from sheep’s wool. When those gifts aren’t enough, he offers her more elaborate gifts such as; buckles made of the purest gold, coral clasps, and amber studs. His lists of expensive gifts show his growing desperation for her love. These gestures show that he is madly in love with this woman and will do anything to have her. He goes from the simplest of gifts to the most elaborate to prove his love. But is he really showing love? Or is he showing desperation?
In the poem “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” she declines his gifts. She goes on to tell him how the flock of sheep will leave, the seasons will change and the crops will soon die, flowers will fade, and the richest gifts they will soon resent. She denies his love. These two poems show love in two different ways. In “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” he is willing to give the world to a woman, even things he could never afford just for her love and companionship in return. This kind of love can be good, but can also be bad because his desperation has made him vulnerable. In “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” it shows a good love and a sad love. She seems like a realist and tells him that her love cannot be bought. She has to love him for whom he is and not the things he gives her. It’s also a sad love because he loves her dearly and she doesn’t love him back. Maybe she saw his gestures to be acts of pure desperation and not acts of love.
Sources: Christopher Marlowe “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” Literature craft and voice second edition Page 691
Sir Walter Raleigh “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” Literature craft and voice second edition Page 989