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

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What are the figures of speech in "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"?

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Throughout the poem, nature is employed to symbolically represent the beauty and purity of the speaker's love. For example, he promises his love "beds of Roses" and "A gown made of the finest wool." The roses here symbolize romance and beauty, and the wool, from the "pretty lambs," symbolizes warmth and comfort.

Also in the poem, Marlowe evokes the different senses to create a more vivid, sensual impression of the scene. He suggests to his love that they should watch "the shepherds feed their flocks," listen to the "Melodious birds sing madrigals," and indulge in the smell of "a thousand fragrant posies."

Marlowe also employs throughout the poem different sound techniques to create a melodious tone and to emphasize key images. For example, he repeats the soft, lilting sound of the letter 'l' in the lines, "And we will all the pleasures prove / That hills and valleys, dale and field." The repetition of the letter 'l' here creates a soft, lilting tone.

Elsewhere in the poem Marlowe uses alliteration to emphasize key images. For example, in the fifth stanza there is "coral clasps," and in the second stanza, there is "Melodious . . . madrigals." The first image is key because it connotes the connection that the speaker wishes to exist between him and his loved one, and the second image is key because it emphasizes the peacefulness and tranquility of the love that the speaker feels.

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