Identify literary terms in "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" by Sir Walter Raleigh.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is of course a key question to focus on, as the identification of literary terms is an immensely important skill to be able to carry out in the study of literature. I will identify a few literary terms in this poem, but I would also like to leave a few for you to identify for yourself, as hopefully when I have shown you what to do and how to do it, you can then go on and analyse the rest of the poem yourself.

One of the first examples of a literary device is alliteration, the repetition of the initial consonant sounds, which is found in the first stanza in "pleasures prove." We can see how alliteration is used again in the second stanza with "rivers rage and rocks" and then "flocks from field to fold." Alliteration is something that is used throughout the poem and helps contribute to the song-like nature.

A metaphor is used in "A honey tongue," where the tongue is directly compared to being made of honey. This of course relates to the nymph's opinion of the shepherd's words in the poem to which this is a response. It indicates the sweetness of the words that the shepherd has uttered.

Hopefully this can get you started so you can identify other examples of literary terms. Good luck!

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sir Walter Raleigh's poem is a response to Christopher Marlowe's earlier poem, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love," thus the poem itself is an allusion. Raleigh uses the same form and meter as Marlowe: six four-line stanzas (quatrains) and iambic tetrameter. The quatrains are composed of rhymed couplets.  

In the first stanza, third line, Raleigh uses alliteration, the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings of words, in "pretty pleasures" and "might me move."

In line seven, the poet uses the name "Philomel," another allusion.  In Greek mythology, Philomel was turned into a bird, specifically a nightingale. 

Another technique Raleigh uses is consonance, in the fifth stanza, seen in this line with the repetition of terminal "s": The Coral clasps and amber studs.

Finally, Raleigh uses a catalog in the fourth stanza: the list of "thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of Roses, thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies..." are things the passionate shepherd offers but the nymph rejects.



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The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

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