Analysis Of The Nymph's Reply To The Shepherd

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Even hundreds of years after its first publication, Christopher Marlowe 's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is thought of as one of the premier English love poems. It is an extremely romantic, idealistic poem that has infatuated countless young women with its vivid imagery and its dreamlike mood. Despite its lasting relevance, this poem was criticized by several poets throughout history. Marlowe 's rival, Sir Walter Raleigh, complied his frustrations with the poem in his piece, "The Nymph 's Reply to the Shepherd." The latter work is the obverse of the former; it is dark in places where the other is light and insouciant, and foreboding where Marlowe 's is optimistic. Consequently, while Marlowe 's poem is one of idyllic love and youth, …show more content…
In the latter, all of the imagery is fanciful and romantic. The shepherd speaks only of beauty and the myriad of awe-inspiring gifts and pleasures he will give to the nymph. He speaks of pastoral countrysides, delicate flowers, and costly clothes as he tries to woo the nymph. In Raleigh 's poem, this beautiful and romantic imagery is flipped. His rather cynical poem talks of how all the shepherd 's gifts are only temporary and materialistic. For example, in, "There I will make thee beds of roses And a thousand fragrant posies," Marlowe speaks of the shepherd 's quaint, charming time with the nymph and uses the rose, one of the most distinguishable symbols of love, to show romance (lines 9-10). Raleigh counters with, "The flowers do fade, and wanton fields, to wayward winter reckoning yields," and in this he insinuates that the shepherd 's gifts will soon be no more, as would the nymph 's reason if she accepted the offerings (lines 9-10). Essentially, he is stating that the shepherd 's romantic endeavors are merely cheap attempts to copulate with the nymph. As Marlowe talks of love, Raleigh only speaks of dilapidation and age. The former poem details fragrant flowers, lovely encounters in fields, and charming birdsong. In the latter, the imagery summons thoughts of wilted blooms, barren countrysides, and quiet, ominous skies. Raleigh takes all the …show more content…
Marlowe 's poem speaks only of the present love the shepherd feels for the girl, and the superfluous gifts he will use to woo her. Raleigh 's poem is more grounded and realistic. Instead of speaking of presents and pleasures, Raleigh 's work discusses the revealing affects of time. This is shown in, "A honey tongue, a heart of gall, Is fancy 's spring, but sorrow 's fall," as while Marlowe ignores reason for idyllic passages and romantic imagery, Raleigh presents a more mature and experienced perspective on love (11-12). These lines have readers view the shepherd, with his courageous and enchanting proposals, in a different light. Raleigh 's words make readers think of sorrow and death, not passion and romance. His imagery is dark, and fixated on decay and rotting, unheard of in Marlowe 's poem. This is as Raleigh focuses his visuals on the effects of time instead of physical beauty or extravagant gifts, as Marlowe does. The imagery in Raleigh 's poem is dark and hopeless, showing how the shepherd 's gifts will be made useless and petty with age. There are scenes of withering flowers and bleak, barren fields. Just as Marlowe had primarily positive and beautiful scenes, Raleigh has mostly foreboding, Therefore, Raleigh brings darker imagery in "The Nymph 's Reply to the

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