“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is a pastoral poem that is simple yet idealized. This poem was written by Christopher Marlowe who was an English dramatist. Marlowe is considered to be the father of English tragedy. Christopher Marlowe was the eldest son of a shoemaker and was born on February 6, 1564. Through the entire poem the speaker, who is a shepherd, wants a woman character to come live with him. The speaker goes on to ask her to sit on rocks, and spend time with him. The speaker will make his love gifts and do anything to please her if she will just come live with him. The speaker, form, use of poetic elements, and theme of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” will be the main discussion in this analysis.
Marlow writes this poem in first person. The speaker, which is the shepherd of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” conducts his poem in a very dreamlike way. The shepherd opens with the invitation: “Come live with me, and be my love.” He is not asking her to marry him but only to live with him. The offer is simply put and the speaker suggests that the woman should just as easily agree. The shepherd obviously only wants her for a period of time. Knowing this, it may make the woman question whether or not she should get involved with this man. The speaker lives in an ideal society where everything is perfect.
The shepherd does not really have a care in the world because he lives in his world of simplicity, beauty, and love. Everything is good and happy, from the speaker’s point of view. The shepherd is engaged in romantic and innocent love affairs. “The Passionate Shepard to His Love” not only is written in iambic pentameter, but this form allows Christopher Marlowe to express his skill of pastoral poetry. This poem is very easy to understand because of the way it is written. The rhyme scheme is very obvious and helps with the flow and form of the poem. This poem has artificial language, and the shepherd spoke just like a man who was only really interested in “spending time” with this woman.
Marlowe added sexuality, and created his own tone in the poem. The tone of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” suggests the pastoral tradition. The shepherd asks the woman to imagine an ideal life that is impossible and ridiculous. In exaggerating and creating these fictional ideas, Marlowe creates a pastoral image of fantasy.
The poetic elements of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” relate to some human senses. Seeing the shepherds feed their flock appeals to the sense of sight. Fragrant posies appeal to the sense of smell. This poem appeals to the human senses so that it appeals to the reader. “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” combines images and involves song like images to the reader.
The overall theme of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is, in my opinion, love and innocence. This poem celebrates the passion that young people think they have for others, but in reality they are just curiously looking for love. This poem is a carpe diem poem. The shepherd wants his love to “seize the day” and come live with him. As was stated earlier, obviously the shepherd wants the woman for just a period of time. This is a fantasy-like setting and the poem is much exaggerated, so carpe diem is to be personified in this type of work.
Christopher Marlowe was a talented poet. Marlowe’s works were published at the same time as other world renowned writers, and are to be considered just as influential. A warrant was issued for Marlowe’s arrest on May 18, 1593. No reason for his arrest was given, but it was thought to be connected to “allegations of blasphemy”. He was brought before the Privy Council to be questioned, after which he had to report to them daily. Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved. The overall speaker, form, use of poetic elements, and theme of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” affects the reader’s attitude toward the poem. Only the present matters in this poem. The obvious theme of the poem is love. The form and poetic elements lead the reader to more sensually enjoy the expression of it.