Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cinnamon Peeler” are short poems, which contain a mutual theme of demonstrating love. However, they differ drastically in the overall perception and depiction of love. Marlowe’s outlook on love is extravagantly fanciful which is evident in his use of materialism to entice his love interest. In contrast, Ondaatje’s outlook on love ties his speaker’s imagination with reality. Like Marlow, materialism is evident in Ondaatje’s text to establish dedication to his lover. Both poems discuss love on different levels and use materialism in distinct manner to express love.
Marlowe’s speaker is extending an affectionate invitation to a woman. He says, “Come live with me and be my love / And we will all the pleasures prove (1-2). He expresses his desire to luxuriate in the pleasures of the present. He further elaborates his proposal saying, And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals (4-8)
Nature, which holds the very essence of purity, is analogous to his naive infatuation. He places himself and his love interest in a picturesque landscape where they lounge on rocks by a cascading river and submerse in the serenity of the moment while the shepherds lead their flocks and the birds chirp in harmony (4-8). “And I will make thee beds of roses / And a thousand fragrant posies,” says Marlowe’s speaker adding to the proposal (8-9). He is suggesting endless bounty implying that roses will always be in bloom. Thus, everyday he will have countless sweet-scented roses to delight her senses (8-9). His invitation is laden with idealized romance, surrounded by a calming aura, which induces euphoria. Marlowe’s invitation is innocent flirtation characterized with idealism. He promises momentary contentment; his proposal is outright fantastical—gleaming with delight and topped with an...
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