Come Live With Me And Be My Love Cecil Day Lewis Analysis Essay

Christopher Marlowe's The Passionate Shepherd to His Love Essay

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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 my first read through of each of the poems, the plot seemed fairly clear to me. My ignorance allowed me to believe that Marlowe's poem was simply about a confession of love in an eloquent fashion and that Sir Walter Raleigh's reply was merely a rejection of that very confession. I was even entertained by the conviction of The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd in that every line of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love was individually countered and shut down. For example, "...we will sit upon the rocks,"…show more content…

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 my first read through of each of the poems, the plot seemed fairly clear to me. My ignorance allowed me to believe that Marlowe's poem was simply about a confession of love in an eloquent fashion and that Sir Walter Raleigh's reply was merely a rejection of that very confession. I was even entertained by the conviction of The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd in that every line of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love was individually countered and shut down. 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;" which I interpreted as "the birds flew away and the rocks are going to get cold because I'm not going to sit with you". I can honestly say that my initial reaction was relating this to the Elizabethan Era equivalent of a modern day "internet troll" on an online blog where someone rejects every word another says just for the heck of it. After committing to the poems and deciphering some of the actual meanings of the lines, I was not only able to come to the realization that there is significantly more value within each poem, but that I was possibly even wrong about the nymph's reply being a

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Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is a celebration of youth, innocence, love, and poetry. The poem participates in an ongoing tradition of lyrical love poetry. It casts the lovers as shepherds and shepherdesses who are at home in a beneficent natural setting. According to the conventions of pastoral poetry (which began with the Greek poet Theocritus in the third century b.c.e.), shepherds are uncorrupted and attuned to the world of nature. Such pastoral poems are the work of urban poets who idealize the simplicity, harmony, and peace of the shepherd’s life.

This idealized vision has often been subjected to satire. Sir Walter Raleigh, a contemporary of Marlowe, wrote “The Nymph’s Reply to the Passionate Shepherd,” in which the young woman replies somewhat cynically. The third stanza reads:

Thy gown, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies;Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Three centuries later, in 1935, responding to the economic devastation of the Depression, C. Day Lewis wrote, “Come, live with me and be my love”:

Care on thy maiden brow shall putA wreath of wrinkles, and thy footBe shod with pain: not silken dressBut toil shall tire thy loveliness.

The many parodies of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” render a kind of tribute to its enduring vitality and power.

Marlowe’s poem is an outstanding example of the pastoral lyric tradition. It succeeds because of its musical quality, its direct, conversational language, and its freshness of imagery and tone. It continues to be widely anthologized.

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