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Historical Context in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

Historical Context Examples in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd:

Text of the Poem

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"Shepherd’s tongue..."   (Text of the Poem)

The shepherd is the speaker from Marlowe’s poem “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” and a representation of the pastoral tradition. The pastoral is a literary tradition that idealizes rustic, country lifestyles. It imagines artistic shepherds in an idyllic landscape of timeless spring. It remains unspoiled by time or the stresses of the modern city. Much like the Greek pastoral from which Renaissance writers drew the idea, the pastoral was largely a response to the complexity of society within the city. The simple, peaceful, and uncomplicated life of the country were glorified as an escape from reality.

"young..."   (Text of the Poem)

Marlowe’s shepherd promises his love an idyllic, timeless world. However, the nymph replies that the world is not “young.” To make this argument, the nymph draws on Christian theology and humanity’s fall from grace. In the Bible, Adam and Eve enjoy paradise in the garden of Eden, a peaceful place untouched by evil, time, or corruption. When they eat an apple from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they are condemned to mortality. The “young world” is the pre-fallen, Edenic world. The nymph reminds the shepherd that they live in a fallen world and therefore everything he has promised is false.

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