What details in "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" make it a pastoral poem?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Pastoral poems present an idealized vision of life in the countryside; the scenery is beautiful, the people are honest and forthright, and the fresh air is full of passionate love.

Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love," is an exellent example of this genre.

There are many references to the beautiful scenery: "hills and valleys, dale and field / and all the craggy mountains"; the lovers will sit "by shallow rivers" and listen to "melodious birds sing madrigals"; the shepherd promises to clothe his lover with roses, posies, "leaves of myrtle,"  and a belt of "straw and ivy buds."

The shepherd is honest and straightforward about his love.  At the outset, he states his proposal: "Come live with me and be my Love."  There is no "city' talk of money, of dowry, of family politics; there is only a strong, natural love that must be consummated.

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