Love is a subject that could elicit strong opinions either in support of it or to criticize it. Both of these opposing views could be seen in Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love and Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd. Although The Nymph’s Reply to The Shepherd does a commendable job on taking a realistic stance on love by using imagery and figurative language, The Shepherd confident promises were seen to be more effective due to his idealist view of love.
Throughout The Shepherd to His Love, the shepherd remains adamant and passionate about proving his devotion to his love. He does this by using diction such as “melodious”, “pleasures”, “and “delights.” These words used in his promises to her all promote a tone of merry and joy. He then associates these words with the effects of his love choosing to become his.
In contrast, The Nymph’s Reply to The Shepherd is laden of criticism. She proposes that love, specifically their love, cannot withstand time. The nymph alludes to a tone of negativity and criticism by using words like “forgotten”, “break”, and “wither” to describe what would happen to their love along with all of the things that the shepherd had promised to her.
The reader could easily recognize the shepherd’s devotion to his love through his the elaborate promises that he has made to her. These promises produce mental images in the reader’s mind of “beds of roses” and “coral clasps and amber studs.” These images promote that the shepherd is a devoted romantic and makes the reader sympathize and connect with him.
On the other hand, the nymph’s harsh criticism makes the reader dislike her. She regarded the shepherd as being too idealistic and devalued his promises by associating it with negative images such as “rivers rage” and “wayward winters.” These images also attain more emphasis by the alliteration. The harsh consonant sounds also alludes that she is critical of the shepherd. The reader would not easily sympathize with the nymph for people want to believe in love.
Because the shepherd was able to promote love in an idealistic form, it is easier for the reader to connect with him in comparison to the nymph’s realistic judgment of love. Therefore, Marlowe’s poem is proven to be more effective. After all, man cannot live without love.