Analysis Pages

Tone in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

Tone Examples in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd:

Text of the Poem

🔒 3

"and love still breed..."   (Text of the Poem)

In Raleigh’s imagination, the one good that would entice the nymph is no less than the proverbial fountain of youth. The speaker understands the fading nature of roses, kirtles, amber clasps, and, most importantly, her own form. Only the shepherd, who can realistically offer the impossible, may charm the nymph. This sentiment blends tones of both humor and heaviness. The notion is playful and yet serious in its acknowledgement of mortality.

"might me move..."   (Text of the Poem)

The phrase “might me move,” with its dense alliteration and playfully unusual syntax, creates a tone that matches the sentiment of the line. The phrase is excessively sweet, just like the shepherd’s “pretty pleasures.”

"If..."   (Text of the Poem)

The conjunction “if” introduces conditions or suppositions, like beliefs, that are then balanced by a possible result. This means that any “if” statement indicates that the conditions are only possible, that they are not representative of reality. That Raleigh begins the poem with this word suggests that many of the conditions that follow are unreal things, which creates a tone of uncertainty or, possibly, mockery.

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