Marlowe Vs. Raleigh

January 21, 2017 General Studies

“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”.

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Although everyone has a slightly different outlook when it comes to love, Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh have done a great job portraying the two extremes in their poems “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” and “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”.

Christopher Marlowe was a sixteenth century British poet and playwright. Many attribute his passionate and impulsive style of writing to his experiences with espionage while working for Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council. It is even believed that his death, by stabbing, in 1593 was a political assassination. Marlowe lived at the same time as Shakespeare, and some believe that Marlowe wrote many of the plays that were later attributed to Shakespeare (Henry L.Carrigan Jr. 2).

In his poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” Marlowe exhibits his impulsiveness and his passion. According to Algernon Charles Swinburne, the “Passionate Shepherd” is “unrivalled in its way- a way of pure fancy and radiant melody without break or lapse.” (Algernon Charles Swinburne 96) Each line in the poem describes a vibrant and beautiful life that the shepherd plans to provide his love, if only she will accept his invitation. Because Marlowe seemed to put it all on the line when it came to his life- this view of love could be expected. This poem portrays a dream of perfect love- fragrant flowers, birds singing, beds of roses, and beautiful countryside are all examples of how Marlowe creates the feeling of happiness in the readers mind. Marlowe wants to show true love to the extreme.

In answer to Marlowe’s poem, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”, in which the shepherd’s true love explains her denial of his offer. Raleigh decided to take on a completely different view of love. The poem is a pessimistic one, written in the supposed honest outlook that Raleigh had in all parts of his life.


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