The Shepard and The Nymph

Essay by jabvikaraUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, February 2004

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The Shepherd and The Nymph

Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is a companion poem to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love". In "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love", a shepherd makes many promises to the female of his desire. He offers her everything within his means to provide in an attempt to woo her and convince her to come with him and be his. "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is the female's reply to the shepherd. In it, the nymph rejects the shepherd's offers of material things. It seems that if he had offered himself instead of material things, she may have taken him more seriously. While "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a poem filled with hope, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is a poem filled with reality.

In the first stanza, the nymph is saying that if she was younger and didn't know much about the world, then maybe the shepherd's promises of enjoying the simple pleasures and beauty found in valleys and fields and nature in general would be enough to convince her that she should come and live with him. With her words stating "And truth in every shepherd's tongue", the nymph seems to question the true motives behind the shepherd's promises. She questions whether he wants her to be his forever as his wife, or just until he gets tired of her as his mistress.

In the second stanza, the nymph tells of how things and feelings often change with the passage of time. Warm and happy times grow into cold and unpleasant times; the shepherd's love dulls, fades, and eventually dies. The sheep return to their pens, the river does not stay serene...