The level of symbolism and imagery that Christopher Marlowe uses in this poem is astonishing. The poem presents a shepherd calling his beloved to be around him so that they can share life together. The poem shows how the shepherd is romantic to his love of life. Going through the poem, one would notice the inclusion of nature vastly. The first stanza on the third line to the fourth, “The valleys, groves, hills, and fields, woods, or steepy mountain yields” describe a beautiful landscape. The speaker does not just stop at this. Every stanza has something natural included in it. As such, this is so until the last stanza. In this poem, nature has been used as a symbol to describe how natural love should be. This paper will focus on establishing the different ways in which environment has been used to bring out the natural feeling of love.
according to line 3-4, “The Valleys, groves, hills, and fields, Woods, or steepy mountain yields.” The one speaking is promising all kinds of pleasures of love. By using the different and diverse kinds of sceneries, he hopes to pass the message that he will commit his love in a whole lot of different but beautiful ways.
Line 5-8, state that “And we will sit upon the Rocks, Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks, by shallow rivers to whose falls Melodious birds sing madrigals” this is a revelation of how one should sit back and enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer. The image that gets portrayed is that of two lovers watching the sheep graze while birds are humming their tunes, showing that love is not only designed to be soothing but also beautiful.
On lines 9-12, “And I will make the beds of roses and a thousand fragrant poises, a cap of flowers, and a kirtle Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle” we notice a lot of floral images that have been referred to in just a stanza (Marlowe, & Raleigh,1902). These images depict a beautiful countryside that is not only fertile but also fruitful and blooming. A bit of research shows that, during the time of writing of this poem by Marlowe, men and women paid keen attention to high levels of prosperity and fertility. For you to be held highly in the society and possibly grab the attention of the one you love, you had to pocket the attributes of productivity and prosperity.
According to line 14, “which from our pretty lambs we pull,” the speaker draws reference to the lambs. Therefore, this is done in a bid to show how an ideal version of the world in its natural state should be (Marlowe, 2006). Apart from this, it shows that it is possible for the countryside to provide one with everything they need. Similarities can be drawn between this and the biblical Garden of Eden. It is in the bible that where one would not have to worry about clothes as there was wool that they could find by just stretching a hand.
It is difficult not to go by a stanza in the poem and not find a symbol in any of the lines. Therefore, this goes a long way in showing how Christopher Marlowe extensively used symbolism to bring out the message of love and tranquility. Marlowe does this in an effortless, unique and consistent way by adopting the use of mainly plants and nature. In the long run, one would remain with the thought of how natural love should be as portrayed by Marlowe.
Marlowe, C., & Raleigh, S. W. (1902). The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (p. 168). BiblioBytes.
Marlowe, C. (2006). The collected poems of Christopher Marlowe. Oxford University Press, USA.