The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love cover image

Christopher Marlowe is the only playwright/poet to stand at the same level as William Shakespeare. Eloquent in writing, fluid in communicating throughvd his works, and beautiful in terms of the poems he wrote. The Passionate Shepherd to his Love is a poem about a shepherd’s desire to live with his love, in a place where he loves to live. 

The poem is also about the beauty of the place where a shepherd takes his sheep, the meadows, the mountains, shallow rivers, flower gardens, etc. Marlowe describes the life he would have with his love if they lived in the valleys. The self-sufficiency of living in these places is another key theme of the poem. They can do everything they need. Let’s take a look at the poem;

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love

Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses

And a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool

Which from our pretty lambs we pull;

Fair lined slippers for the cold,

With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs:

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning:

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me and be my love.

Analysis of this poem 

Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

The poem starts by stating how living in the valleys amongst the hills, fields, woods, and mountains would bring so much pleasure that most of the people are unaware of. It is the desire of the poet to live with his love in a beautiful place.

And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals. 

But what would they do to pass their time? The poet explains there is a lot that can be done to enjoy their time. Watching the sheep flocks, the rives with their meandering course pouring water over the edge of a mountain. Hearing the musical chant of melodious birds. There is no lack of things to see and enjoy in the place the poet invites his love. 

And I will make thee beds of roses

And a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

Proceeding with describing the type of life the two will have, Marlowe, says that they’ll have a bed of roses, far more superior than what you’ll find in the general houses. He’ll make her a cap of flowers and a gown embroidered with the leaves of myrtle. Myrtle is a plant that symbolizes innocence and purity. 

A gown made of the finest wool

Which from our pretty lambs we pull;

Fair lined slippers for the cold,

With buckles of the purest gold;

The myrtle-embroidered gown will be made from the finest wool, of which they’ll have no lack for since there are many lambs in their company. With slippers for the cold weather and buckles made of purest gold, they’d have everything they want or need.

A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs:

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Come live with me, and be my love.

From the beautiful gardens and mountains and rivers, the author has everything he needs to give a sufficient state of life to his love. Straws to make belts, ivy for buds, corals for clasps, and amber studs. He offers everything a woman needs for her adornment. And then he says if his love would like these things, then she should live with him. 

The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May morning:

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me and be my love.

If she lives with the shepherd, his youth will be over joyous, it would dance and sing just to make his love delightful. If she would like to live in this delightful world, the author pleads his love, to live with him and be his love. There is everything that the shepherd needs in his love and the shepherd will bring everything for his love. It is his desire to live a happy life in a happy place with someone who makes him happy, and he’ll do all he can to make her happy.

This concludes the article. Read more classic poems by other poets, here’s your selection;

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