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The Passionate Shepard

In: English and Literature

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Christopher Marlowe: The Passionate Shepherd To His Love Composition III/Literature

Christopher Marlowe was an English poet of the Elizabethan era, late 1500 to early 1600. He obtained his education from University of Cambridge, The Kings School, Canterbury and Corpus Christi. In 1589 while attending Cambridge University at its Corpus Christi College he wrote The Passionate Shepherd to His Love. It first appeared in print in poetry collections published in 1599 and1600. Marlowe’s theme of “The Passionate Shepherd” is the rapture of springtime love in a simple setting. Pastoral poems generally center on the love of a shepherd for a maiden, on the death of a friend, or on the quiet simplicity of rural life. The writer of a pastoral poem may be an educated city dweller, like Marlowe, who extolls the virtues of a shepherd girl or longs for the peace and quiet of country life. Through the descriptions in his poem he is not just conveying to his love, but also extolling the readers to “seize the day”, urging one to enjoy the moment without worrying about the future.
The poem’s speaker is of a young man who is a shepherd who asks the young lady to “live with me and be my love,” (Marlowe, 1600, p. 749), noting that they will enjoy all the pleasures and beauty that nature has to offer. The description of “shallow rivers to whose falls, Melodious birds sing madrigals”, (Marlowe, 1600, p. 749), gives the vison of a river flowing with birds flying about chirping in beautify melodies. Through these words you can start to see and even hear nature all around you. I can imagine the view being of vast green hills and fields, with the sun shining through the blue and white fluffy clouds above. A calming feeling comes over you that you cannot help but feel the serenity of nature. The love this young man has for this maiden is so strong that he tells her that if she becomes his, he will provide her with the finest gown that is made of wool from their lambs and “Fair lined slippers for the cold” (Marlowe, 1600, p. 749) and all the simple trimmings to give

her the beauty she deserves. To some this may not be the most attractive image of a wedding gown but in the simple country life I can see myself in this beautiful gown that he describes. The pure image of a “cap of flowers”, (Marlowe, 1600, p. 749), he draws you in with his words of pure love for this woman. You can picture a beautiful bride with different colors of flowers just flowing from her vail, in a wondrous pastel arrangement. He is making her promises that he hopes will persuade her to accept his proposal. If she does accept his proposal he then promises to her that there will be a grand party with singing and dancing. The reader can then further imagine a wedding reception where everyone is rejoicing and having a wonderful time. I can see the moon shinning from a clear sky as all the stars are visible. Breathing in the cool night air and not having a care in the world, just being in the moment of happiness. Sharing together the love between two people under the moonlight in its simplicity, like a story from a fairytale.
The poem flows very well from the being to the end. It has a rhyme to it from the first line that flows into rhyming with the second line and the third rhymes with the fourth. The poem has a smooth and easy understanding to it. Here is a man, who really can be of any age, which loves a woman and wants her to be in his life and spend it with him enjoying the beauty that life has to give. This man loves her so much that he is willing to go after her and impress her with the simple things that life has to offer. He is taking the bull by the horns, “seizing the day” even though she may turn him down he still is going after the one that he feels will complete his life. On the other hand you can also take this poem from the woman’s view. As the young women, here is this wonderful offer from this man, who loves her enough to share all the beauty he has of his land, and provide her with it. She could also “seize the day” and accept.

References
Marlowe, Christopher. (1600).The Passionate Shepard to His Love. In X. J. Kennedy &D. Gioia. The Literature Collection. (Vital Source Digital Version) (p. 749). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved from http://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/books

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