Historical Context in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Historical Context Examples in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love:

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 6

"Then live with me, and be my love...."   (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)

The speaker returns again to his entreaty to “live with me, and be my love.” Once again, the speaker uses a conditional if-then statement to ask the woman if she will come with him. He bases this appeal on the “delights” he just described rather than the “pleasures” he promised her for the majority of the poem. However, the woman is not given a voice in this poem and the speaker does not continue on to tell us her answer. Rather, the audience is left in suspense about whether or not the woman will accept his proposal. The nature of her reply is taken up by Sir Walter Raleigh in his poem “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.”

"studs..."   (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)

Studs are ornamentation that is imprinted into cloth or leather. The rare and extravagant nature of the clothes that the speaker describes touches on the underlying paradox of the pastoral tradition. The pastoral seeks to idolize a simple, rustic lifestyle. However, it does so through flowery poetic terms and the artistic tastes of the urban society. Pastoral literature and poems therefore often juxtapose the simplicity of the country with the complexity of the city.

"beds of roses..."   (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)

Roses are often used in poetry to symbolize romantic love and affection. By making her a bed of roses, Marlowe’s speaker means that he will make the most idyllic place for her to sleep. Marlowe coined this term, “bed of roses,” which has become an English idiom that means a situation will be easy or pleasant.

"madrigals..."   (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)

A “madrigal” is a type of song that is divided into different vocal parts that weave elaborate melodies by combining multiple voices. Generally this song consists of two or three stanzas with a long ritornello, an instrumental interlude or recurring theme. This type of music was popular in Italian and English songs from the 16th and 17th centuries.

"pleasures prove..."   (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)

The idea of nature yielding all of the pleasures of life is an example of the pastoral literary tradition, which idealized the rustic world. This tradition features artistic shepherds who enjoy a timeless spring. They live in a landscape much like the garden of Eden, where animals, nature, and time all function harmoniously together to create an idyllic setting. The pastoral was adopted by Renaissance writers from Greek texts to react to the modernization of their complex society and England’s rapid urban development.

"Come live with me and be my love..."   (The Passionate Shepherd to His Love)

Marlowe’s poem begins with a romantic invocation in a romantic setting. From the title, we can assume that the speaker is a shepherd and the addressee of the poem is the object of his affection. Shepherds were people who guarded, tended, and herded animals, such as sheep. In Marlowe’s time, they would have been part of the poor, rural classes that were often idealized in poetry.