How persuasive are the Shepherd and the Nymph as they make their cases?"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd"

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The speaker of "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a humble shepherd who makes a grand offer out of what he has.  What he offers her is a kind of peaceful, rustic, simple life.  Their time will be spent sitting upon the rocks, watching the river flow by and listening to the songbirds singing their "madrigals" around them.  For added entertainment, they shall watch the other shepherds dance and sing.  It's all quite simple, but he is offering his time with her as the grand gesture.  In terms of material things, he offers her the finest nature will yield:  "beds of roses [a]nd... posies," a "cap of flowers," and a dress sewn with myrtle leaves, a gown from the finest wool their sheep will provide, warm slippers with "buckles of the purest gold,"

a belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs.

In short, he offers her the best of what a shepherd has to offer: his time, his possessions, and his love.  She may want more, but he has offered her all he has.

In "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," a response is made to this proposal of marriage.  It doesn't look good for the hopeful Shepherd if the first word she speaks is IF.  Her argument iscompelling:  If young men were all truthful and if time could stand still, perhaps I would consider your offer.  As it stands, she reminds him of the perils of weather and seasons and the rotting or withering away of all his nature-based gifts.  In short, time is the enemy and young love fades away.

All these in me no means can move

To come to thee and be thy love.

Both arguments are valid and deserve consideration.

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