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The passionate shepherd to his love is a poem written by Christopher Marlowe of love promises from a shepherd to his potential lover set in a pastoral community. The shepherd is trying to convince a maiden to become his lover through romantic words that reveal their community as the best place to nurture their love. He is also ready to do everything in his power to please and make her happy if she heeds to his pleas. The shepherd is eager to cease the moment and have her love in the present situation (Payne & John 714). The poem uses the word passionate to show the strong sexual urges that the shepherd has towards his object of desire. Throughout the poem, there are numerous promises and pleas by the shepherd but the maiden neither appears nor responds to his statements. The shepherd is convinced that all their pleasures will begin when she decides to live with him as his love.
Summary of the stanzas
In the first stanza, we are acquainted with an unidentified shepherd who appeals to a woman to join him by living together. He promises her ultimate pleasure if she agrees to live with him. There is no mention of marriage but just the will to accommodate her in his wife. The way he offers his promises show that the woman is a tough nut to crack, thus he has to make exaggerated and sometimes-impossible pledges. All their adventures are bound to happen in the pastoral settings in the ambience of nature. A common connotation for such an invitation would signify that the shepherd wanted to make love to the unidentified woman. He even suggests the private places such as the valleys, fields, woods, or hills where their love would consume them and they would derive pleasure.
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In the second stanza, the shepherd is keen to elaborate to the woman the perfect time for their love to bloom. The way he explains the environment at that time suggests that the season would either be spring or summer. This is because he mentions beautiful grounds where they could sit in comfort wile watching the flocks eating grass (Marlowe 67). The birds will be singing madrigals symbolize springtime as bird signals refer to a new season. The existence of grass also emphasizes on the season and the other shepherds will aid him by feeding his flock. He will seize the free time to spend the moments with his new lover as they savour the beauty of nature. All these activities in the second stanza will be done after they made love and were reminiscing of the moments they shared.
The third stanza culminates into a scenario where the shepherd doubles his efforts of convincing the woman to be his lover. He does this by adding lucrative promises to the initial ones that will entice the woman to follow him to his house. He pledges to set up a variety of beds for her that has a thousand posies. The poem is full of hyperbole since the shepherd is consistent in making impossible and exaggerated promises just to gain the feedback from the woman. He even promises to dress her in magnificent kirtle adorned with other embellishments that will enhance her beauty. The kirtle seems to be a customary dress code but he promises to decorate it to show his appreciation of her acceptance for his love.
In the fourth stanza, he is willing to share his riches with her by adorning her with a gown made of finest wool. He will turn the shearing procedure of obtaining the wool from the sheep into a graceful pulling session. This scenario represents his willingness to put effort into adorning his woman with all the things he can afford, thus the reason why he mentioned slippers made of nothing but pure gold. He continues alluring the woman in stanza five by taking care of all the tiny detains of her clothes. He talks of coral clasps will act as buttons and her costume will have a straw belt in addition to ivy-buds. He also takes the chance to remind the woman of how pleasurable their love will be if she accepts him. However, he does not go into detail of those pleasures he had aforementioned because in his heart he is convinced that she remembers them.
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The six and last stanza shows the shepherdââ‚¬â„¢s last chance on convincing the woman to be his love. He promises her that if she agrees to love him his fellow shepherds referred to as swains will sing and dance in honour of them. He says that every day of their life will be filled with laughter and the shepherds will always sing and dance for them. In the last sentence, he simplifies the magnitude of her decision by simply asking him to come and live with her to enjoy those delights. In the poem, he uses couplets to emphasize his objectives because they use the same line in different stanzas such as the repetition of the words ââ‚¬Ëœlive with me and come be my love.ââ‚¬â„¢
The poem generally shows that it is not easy to get love and sometimes people have to put effort. The shepherd doe not talk of the future or the past but hopes to get the woman in the present. His description about his motives is mainly geared towards satisfying his sexuality. He seems to have admired her so much to the extent of wanting her to give up her chastity. In the beginning, one would have thought that this is just a dream of an idle shepherd as he watched his flock but the mention of passion indeed shows there is a woman. The shepherd is not rich but he is willing to sacrifice whatever little he has to adorn his potential lover with the things he knows she deserves as his lover. He embarks on a journey to convince his lover with the same hard work he ploughs when he caters for his flock (Marlowe 67). He does not mention an aim of having a long time commitment but in the last stanza, he says that every day of their lives will be filled with happiness. This shows that he is willing to nurture his love for the woman to last an eternity if she accepts him. The shepherd portrays a kind of love that innocent and pure yet filled with many erotic fantasies may be because she is the woman he has dreamt of having all his life. Throughout the poem, the shepherd is convinced that all their pleasures will begin when she decides to live with him as his love.
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