“Passion of the Shepherd for the love of her life”

Christopher Marlowe has written a poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” on which a response was written by Sir Walter Raleigh, “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd,” a year later. Marlow’s poem was replied with a sarcastic kind of reply, there was quite similarity between both cases like poem’s structure, references and meaning, 2 rhymed couplets combinations, 4 or 6 stanzas, but there was a feminist tone as it was being listened of Stanza and the same was being addressed by Shepherd. In this poem a lady was offered to live with Shepherd by him with the pleasures of the world to offer.

In the poem, it was depicted that the lady is from a different world but not mortal. Marlowe poem is countrified as admitted by Armitage because of the difference of populated city of London. The theme represented is less innocent than the words used in the poem as they are sweet and beautiful. Lady invited by Shepherd was offered all kinds of materialistic and luxury things with arousing hidden messages like “Come, live with me in a paradise and be my love (Folsom & Zoe Ham, 2014), but the lady was smart enough to understand those message, differ with them and was courageous enough to refute the invitation.

Without comparing the poems as a whole the feminist angle of Raleigh’s poem could not be unstated. Tone is the first thing which depicts the feminist angle in Raleigh’s poem. In Shepherd poem the nature of men is very clear as they try to attract the women by being sweeter and making promises.

As this was a countrified poem so deception in the civilization and organization state were depicted in a simple manner. There was dejection of a man hidden beneath the lovely words of forest, nature etc. (Heniger, 1969)

Nymph’s tone is closer to the reality and practical so the satirical take on Raleigh is effective, in fact, Nymphs approach was frank and practical considering the history as in this was stated. Men and Women were quite a society strict as the 16th century. Even in modern times, it is considered to be man responsibility to provide basic needs and also the pleasures to their partners so they are empowered earlier and then now. Nymph disagreed with all the statements of Shepherd with if-then statements like

With relation to temporary world and time, Nymph clearly developed a feminist theme with contradicting with the definition of love and the harsh reality of life. An ideal love was considered by Shepherd like


For shepherd everything was pleasurable and beautiful by Nymph disagreed to them and who knows better than the goddess as Shepherd was a normal mortal, she could see the world from a bigger perspective and she knows the things from men’s folly and she knew all the promises made by Shepherd aren’t reliable and his commitment will lessen with respect to time.

The flowers do fade and wanton fields

To wayward winter reckoning yields;

A honey tongue, a heart of gall,

Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall (Raleigh 243)

Point of view is one of the other prospects which depicts the sense of feminism in this poem. Speaker is now Nymph as mentioned in the poem and she is speaking with equal rights and with equality to Shepherd and as a sex member. All the important things which women of all the world wants to say is depicted in her tone and statements. All the promises made of love which will fade away with time, springs which will turn into autumn, the sense of materialism is all those things which Shepherd can offer him then she might not be interested in living with him when she has also to carry a burden of motherhood and housewife errands. But if Shepherd can offer her other things than this like true love which is always able to accept realities and demolishes only when the souls get apart then she might get interested in living with him as she said in the poem

But could youth last, and love still breed,

Had joys no date, nor age no need,

Then these delights my mind might move

To live with thee, and be thy love (Raleigh 243).


As per the poem it is quite obvious that as per the men the only requirement of a women is material and money but the author of counter poem has presented as a counter that this is not the case always. The poem have been represented in a feminist tone which means that the focus have been shifted towards women empowerment. True love is something which is beyond the luxuries, materialism and sexism and if any of these things is involved in the love of your life then the re-consideration over your love becomes mandatory.