“the Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”

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“The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” By Sir Walter Raleigh Summary: “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” is Sir Walter Raleigh’s response to a poem written by Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” In the Marlowe poem, the shepherd proposes to his beloved by portraying their ideal future together: a life filled with earthly pleasures in a world of eternal spring. Raleigh’s reply, however, debunks the shepherd’s fanciful vision. While Marlowe’s speaker promises nature’s beauty and a litany of gifts, Raleigh’s nymph responds that such promises could only remain valid “if all the world and love were young.” Thus, she introduces the concepts of time and change. In her world, the seasons cause the shepherd’s “shallow rivers”…show more content…
Raleigh reiterates many of Marlowe's images and ideas, but distorts them through the lens of time. The same alliteration is also used in both; there is, however, a marked difference in their sounds. Marlowe alliterates softer "m" and "l" sounds, giving his poem the aforementioned rolling aspect. Raleigh imitates Marlowe extremely well, but there is a telling difference that can be noted in some places; Raleigh uses a rougher alliteration of sounds like hard "c" and "t" to give his poem a more mocking, satirical bent. This is especially prominent in the second stanza of Raleigh's poem; while Marlowe's second stanza has the softer alliterative sounds, Raleigh's stanza moves stiffly with the "c" sounds in "complains of cares to come "(8). The metrics of Raleigh's poem are also in and of themselves a direct reply to Marlowe's. Raleigh uses the same iambic tetrameter that Marlowe uses, organizing the poem into four line stanzas composed of two rhyming couplets each. He achieves an oddly mocking tone with the meter because of the words involved. Although the words still flow because of the regular meter, they are decidedly less romantic and are juxtaposed with the meter. Examples of this are the harsh alliteration in "complains of cares to come" (8) or the rolling, soft sound that "wayward winter's reckoning yields" (10). Although the metrics are regular and fall soft on the ear, the subject matter is darker and uses the meter to make fun of Marlowe's
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