Vocabulary in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Vocabulary Examples in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love:

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 11

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

The “delights” the speaker refers to are the swains dancing and singing. These delights differ from the “pleasures” he used previously to convince the love object to become his love. While the “pleasures” were material items drawn from nature, these “delights” are human actions performed for her entertainment. Because the speaker changes his proposal for what the pair should do, one can read this stanza as extending his appeal because the woman is not yet convinced that she wants to live with him.

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

The noun “swain” refers to several positions or vocations usually performed by men. In the pastoral tradition, “swain” came to mean a gallant country lover and wooer. Here, the speaker calls the swains the “shepherds’” which means the swains belong to them. They are farm laborers for the shepherds. However, in pastoral style, the swains are depicted as dancing and singing rather than working. This imagery adds to the idyllic unreal landscape that the speaker paints for his lover.

"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.

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

The adjective “purest” is a superlative that declares something to be the superior version. In this case, this is the most refined and uniform type of gold. Superlatives such as “purest” and “finest” are used for emphasis and generally signal a speaker’s hyperbolic expression of praise or favor. Much like words used to create Eden, the speaker's use of these hyperbolic words promises unreal items to his lover.

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

Notice that the speaker uses that word “lamb” to describe his flock rather than using the word “sheep.” Lambs are baby sheep, and their name has been adopted as an adjective to describe people with a meek, gentle or innocent disposition. It is also used to describe members of a church congregation in the Christian tradition. The use of this word adds to the edenic or idyllic tone of the poem: down to the animals that these shepherds raise, everything is innocent, gentle, and simple.

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

A “myrtle” is an evergreen shrub with dark leaves and edible berries. It is known for its fragrant white flowers. This tree’s evergreen qualities underscore the main characteristics of the setting: it never turns brown, wilts, or dies. As an evergreen, it seems to resist seasons and aging. Like the pastoral garden of Eden, it exists outside time.

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

The noun “kirtle” refers to a tunic or coat, generally one that reaches below the knee or lower. Notice here that the speaker constructs all of his love object’s clothing out of plants: cap of flowers, dress of myrtle leaves. The speaker uses nature to woo his lover, turning material objects into objects of nature.

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

The noun “posies” means both a bouquet of flowers and a collection of pleasant poetry. The speaker uses both meanings of the word here to promise his lover an idyllic life. The hyperbolic “thousand” posies represent a world of fruitful abundance. The pleasant poetry represents a poetic way to create a pastoral landscape. As the world is not perfect, poets can only make it so through language and rhetorical perspective that reshapes the world.

"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.

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

The syntax of these lines makes it difficult to understand exactly what the speaker is saying. The word “yields” can be interpreted as a verb, which speaks back to the concept that he and his lover are going to “prove.” In this way, the speaker is proposing to his lover that she come live with him so that they can prove all these natural items will yield, or result in, pleasure. In other words, he says they will experience all the joys that nature has to offer.