Poem Reflection: “The Nymphs Reply to the Shepard” by Sir Walter Ralegh

Since this was a reply to Christopher Marlowe’s poem, “The Passionate Sheppard to His Love” I chose to read it too. They both used a pre-established pattern of rhythm and rhyme making them a closed poetic form of poetry.  I noticed while reading The Nymphs Reply that Ralegh used the same meter as Marlowe did in, “The Passionate Sheppard”. This serves to strengthen the energy between the two poems and pulls the reader in that much more. The line breaks in this poem at the end of phrases and sometimes at sentence. I feel like this allows the reader to keep time while reading the poem.

The poem, “The Nymphs Reply to The Shepard” is about just that. A nymph (or young lady) replying to a shepherd who has tried to win her affection. He did this by offering her lavish gifts and romantic adventures that were presented beautifully to the ear. To her, however, pretty words and nice things fell short of her the true love she was apparently after. There was no real love and passion there, but more of a sense of wanting and lust. The love he describes to her speaks only of immediate gratification and in her reply, she describes that they would be well suited in a make believe world. In a world where his gifts of flowers and jewelry do not fade. In a world where youthful indulgences had no consequence and where lovers told the truth instead of romantic lies, she would then be his love.

This was a challenging read for me. The poem itself was not, but reading it over and over to find the meanings behind it was difficult but enjoyable. I found myself even exploring Greek mythology for Ralegh’s reference to an artistic deity. It was also new for me though, I would enjoy finding authors I find interesting and doing a little more reading in my free time.