Explain the ways in which the poet brings out the theme of sensuousness in the poem "Come Live with Me and Be My Love" by Christopher Marlowe.

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The title of the poem is actually The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.

Sensuousness is a reference to all things which, in an aesthetic sense, appeal to all the senses. In this poem, the shepherd woos his love by promising to provide what he believes would be appealing to her. In this regard then, he appeals to her senses of sight, touch, smell and hearing. 

In stanza one the speaker promises that if the object of his affections should be with him and be his lover, they would be able to enjoy all the pleasures that nature, in all its forms, can provide:

... we will all the pleasures prove,
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

He is quite assertive and assures her that they will be able to definitely enjoy the sensuousness of nature. To further confirm this assertion, he uses the word prove - there will be no doubt that they are getting a thrill.

The second stanza continues in much the same vein, although the Shepherd becomes quite specific:

And we will sit upon the Rocks,
Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow Rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing Madrigals.
Once more, the appeal is to the enjoyment his Love would experience by
sitting on the rocks and watching a beautiful country scene where,
surrounded by the beauty of nature, she would listen to the harmonious
music made by the birds.

In stanza three, the speaker appeals to his Love's senses of touch, sight and smell:

And I will make thee beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;
His love will see all the beautiful roses, and feel them as she lays herself
down amongst the petals. She will smell the pleasant aroma of posies and
see, smell and wear garments made and embroidered with flowers and
leaves.
 
In the fourth stanza, he mentions that his Love would wear:
A gown made of the finest wool  and
 
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
The focus is more on sight and touch in this instance, but the Shepherd
wishes for his Love to savour the feel of the best and wallow in luxury. He
believes that she would enjoy the richness of that which he would
provide.
 
In stanza five, the speaker promises his love expensive gifts which would, of
course, be pleasing to the eye:
Coral clasps and Amber studs
In the final stanza, the Shepherd promises that his Love would be entertained
by his young manservants who would:
... dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
This is an obvious appeal to her love for music and he wishes her to be
entertained through dance - an appeal to her sense of sight and sound.
 
By appealing to her senses, the Shepherd imagines that his request would be
successful. He paints a portrait of an almost perfect existence, almost a
Garden of Eden, in which he and his Love would enjoy the best that life can
offer. 

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