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“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe is one of the most well-known love poems in the English language and one of the earliest examples of the pastoral poetry in Elizabethan era.It consists of six four-line stanzas rhymed according to the pattern AABB, which forms two couplets. It sounds melodious also due to refrain "Come live with me and be my love", which recurs three times. His speech is addressed to a woman, probably nymph. The shephard hopes that he and his beloved will lead an Edenic, carefree life of free love in nature.
A bed is something we all require, though a bed of roses “with a thousand fragrant posies,” (Marlowe line 10) is certainly something we do not typically return to each night.
Further, a bed is something lovers typically share together.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 26 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.
Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" fits perfectly into the poetic genre of the period.
It is not explicit but the shepherd is likely trying to evoke pleasant, romantic images of the space they will share as lovers.
“A cap of flowers, and a kirtle/Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;” (Marlowe lines 11-12) This suggests that the bed will have a drapery of sorts surrounding its mattress of roses, which is a rather thinly veiled suggestion of sexual promise.Marlowe mixes images of objects made from nature (beds of roses, a cap of flowers, a belt of straw with ivy buds) with images of man-made objects (gold buckles, silver dishes).His beloved thus will receive the best of both worlds.He sets forth an image of crystilline tranquilty, a paradise frozen in amber where the two will be happy for the rest of the foreseeable future.The poem’s first lines read “Come live with me and be my love/ and we will all the pleasures prove” (Marlowe lines 1-2).Still, he believes that he will manage to seduce the female with his description of the beauty and richness of nature.To make his offer sound attractive he uses variety of stylistic devices: apostrophe ("Come live with me and be my love"), epithets ("steepy", shallow", "melodious", "fair lined", "the purest"), alliteration ("The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing", "mind may move") and metaphors ("I will make thee beds of roses", "Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle").Few Elizabethan poets published their own work, especially one as young as Marlowe, and so it is fairly certain that the poem was well-known long before its publication.The composition date is thought to be about 1588, and probably it generated many responses well before its publication nearly a dozen years later.Already there are promises being given to the as of yet unnamed love, only alluded to in the poem’s title.The speaker is already using a rather seductive tone to allure his love, and even though it is Birds, can, of course not sing praises and certainly not to a specific subject.