Nymph’s Reply To Shepherd

essay B

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

The poem The Nymphs Reply to the Shepherd, is a look into the mind of a

realistic (or some may even say pessimistic) person. It was written as a

response to the more idealistic poem, The Passionate Shepherd to His

Love, by Christopher Marlowe. The Passionate Shepherd is the story

of a man trying to convince the lady he loves to spend the rest of her life with

him. He describes the happiness that will surround them and the beauty they will

live with the rest of their lives, The shepherd swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning-. The theme of the poem is essentially to

woo the shepherds love to come live with him. Many responses were written to

this poem, but the most famous came from Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh wrote

The Nymphs Reply to the Shepherd. Sir Walter Raleigh actually became

famous for colonizing the Americas and for being the founder of a settlement in

Virginia. With this response to Marlowes poem he also became a poet. He wrote

the best response to Marlowes idealistic shepherd. In the first stanza the

nymph (otherwise known as the shepherds love) begins to state an argument

against the shepherds views. She says that if their love would always stay

young, and their world would never change then she would gladly spend the rest

of her life with him. After saying this, the nymph explains in detail what the

reality of things would be if they spent their lives together. The second stanza

begins by saying that in time the flocks of sheep would leave the field. The

rivers would grow to be more violent and smash against the rocks, instead of

flowing gently. The nightingale would stop singing, and soon after the

complaints in their relationship would start. Stanzas three through five

continue the nymphs description of what would really occur, if she lived with

him. Eventually, the flowers would wither away, and winter would come. The

springs honey tongue would appear, but it would only be followed by

fall (which they saw as sorrow-filled season). The gowns, shoes, skirts, and

everything else the shepherd said she would have also would fade and disappear

in time. Everything he offered her such as a belt made of straws and ivy buds,

coral clasps, and ivory studs, could not convince her to spend her life with

him. The point she tries to put across in these stanzas is everything she owned

and all that they were surrounded by would change. The Passionate

Shepherd only speaks of the wonderful things, and he only see the beauty

and life of spring. The nymph smartly reminds him that after a beautiful season

winter will eventually arrive. In the last stanza of the poem, the tone changes

a little. The nymph says how her opinion might change if things were different.

If their youth and their youthful stage of love could last forever, and it was

certain that their joy would never die; these offers would move her to changing

her mind. She basically states that she would spend the rest of her life with

him, if all that he said were true. In this last stanza, you see the nymph back

down from her argument a bit. She agrees that it would be nice for things to

stay the same, but they never do. This is what seems to be the theme of the

poem. Although she would love to live the way the shepherd says, she realizes

(and tries to make him realize through the poem) that things could never stay

that perfect. This argument is stated wonderfully through the imagery and

language used in the poem. In The Nymphs Reply the images used let

the reader almost see what this nymph is talking about. When rivers rage and

rocks grow cold, And Philomel becometh dumb; through this image the audience

can picture the cold water of the river crashing against the rocks, and the

nightingale stop singing. The flowers do fade, and wanton fields To wayward

winter reckoning yields; in these images the iciness of winter seems to be

killing everything off. Personification is also used to make the images clearer.

A honey tongue, a heart of gall, Is fancys spring, but sorrows

fall. This line personifies spring and fall by giving them human attributes

such as a tongue and a heart, as well as making them fancy and sorrowful. The

images in this poem are what make the poem great. They make the reader

understand the realist point of view of the nymph. This point of view also helps

to understand The Passionate Shepherd to His Love. The two are such

contrasts, yet they play off each other well. Therefore, it makes for a very

enjoyable reading experience for the audience.

English Essays

Get access to
knowledge base

MOney Back
No Hidden
Knowledge base
Become a Member