What are 3 literary devices used in "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe?  How do they enhance the poem?

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Literary devices are used by poets to make their meaning clearer in poems in only a few words.  There are many types of literary devices used in poems.  Three in this pastoral poem are heroic couplets, sensory details and alliteration.

Heroic couples are pairs of rhyming lines written in iambic pentameter.  Shakespeare made these popular in his sonnets (this is not a sonnet), but they produce a beautifully rhythmic poem.  Notice that the rhyming lines continue throughout the poem.  An example from the first stanza that sometimes the words don’t seem to rhyme, but within the rhythm of the poem they do:

COME live with me and be my Love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That hills and valleys, dale and field,

And all the craggy mountains yield. (lines 1-4)

Lines 1 and 2 and lines 3 and 4 rhyme.

Sensory details are also present throughout the poem.  The poet carefully chooses his words to help us create an image with our five senses.  Phrases like “melodious birds” and “fragrant posies” help create the sweet, carefree pastoral setting.  Consider lines 16 and 17:

A belt of straw and ivy buds

With coral clasps and amber studs: (lines 17-18)

Words like this create a picture in our minds.  They also help sell the pastoral poem effect, describing nature in an idealized, inviting way.  In this case, the speaker wants the woman to come and live with him in the beautiful countryside.

Alliteration is a third device poets love to use.  It helps words roll of the tongue!  Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds, and is used throughout the poem.  Examples are “pleasures prove” in line 2, “coral clasps” in line 17, “shepherds feed their flocks” from line 6 and these from the last stanza:

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing

For thy delight each May-morning:

If these delights thy mind may move,

Then live with me and be my Love.

The alliteration adds to the lovely melodious sound of the poem, and is very convincing!





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