The Passionate Shepherd to His Love Questions and Answers
by Christopher Marlowe

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Compare "To His Coy Mistress" and "The Passionate Shepard to His Love." Does Marvell's poem make more explicit something that Marlowe expresses, or do the two poems differ too much?

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The principal difference between Marlowe's approach and Marvell's, in these two poems, is that Marlowe presents a series of entrancing images to encourage a woman to love him, while Marvell appears to have already won a woman's heart but still needs to persuade her to consummate their love. Marvell's persuasion takes the single-minded form of telling her that life is transient, and that if they don't act now, they will lose their opportunity for pleasure and happiness.

The thoughts expressed in the two poems are therefore quite different, so perhaps we should not undertake a direct comparison at all. But one could argue that Marvell's approach diverges from Marlowe's, not simply because he's expressing a separate set of ideas, but also because of changes that took place in both English society and English poetry between the late sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries.

Other metaphysical poets, such as Donne, wrote verse that used complex metaphors or "conceits," often going out of their...

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