Comparing the Idealistic and Realistic: "The Passionate Shepherd ...

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Comparing the Idealistic and Realistic: "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd"

By | December 2012
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Comparing the Idealistic and Realistic: "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a pastoral poem written by Christopher Marlowe in the late sixteenth century. According to Dr. Debora B. Schwartz, Pastoral is a term that comes from the Latin word for shepherd: pastor. The pastoral poem is one that deals with shepherds and rustic life (Schwartz). This poem was set in a shepherd's field or dwelling. The only information that we have about the speaker is that he is a shepherd and thinks romantically and idealistically. Marlowe does not focus much on the setting or character, but more on the argument that the shepherd is trying to make to the girl. The prominent theme of this poem is of idealistic love and pleasure. Carpe diem was a popular subject in poems of this era, and this also shows as a theme. The speaker urges his love to live with him and enjoy the pleasures of the day. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote a response to this poem in 1600 called "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." He uses the young girl as the speaker, responding to the shepherd. There are no clues to the setting or the girl's physical appearance. The themes of this poem are doubt and the point that time changes things. The young girl thinks realistically and refutes the ideas of the idyllic world the young man had proposed to her. The shepherd seems to be very much of an optimist, whereas the young girl is a pessimist. The structure of these two poems is exact. There are six stanzas consisting of four lines each. This shows that "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is responding directly to the shepherd in "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." In each ideal proposal he gives, she gives him the realistic answer to why they cannot be together. The speaker in "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a young shepherd who proposes a passionate love affair to the girl he desires. He uses nature largely to appeal to her senses. He...