This excellent poem cannot be read in isolation but must be studied alongside the poem it was written as a response to: "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." In the nymph's response, the nymph, who is the speaker, asserts that not every shepherd tells the truth. She ridicules the shepherd's promises by painting a realistic view of each. For example, in response to the promise of gowns, shoes and "beds of roses," she responds:
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
She ends by saying that she might accept the shepherd's invitation if youth and love lasted for ever.
Therefore, if you are studying these poems together, you might want to think about the following questions to aid you in your analysis:
1) What flaws does the nymph find in the shepherd's vision?
2) Under what conditions would she agree to live with him?
3) How would you describe the tone of this poem?
4) How do you think the shepherd would respond to this nymph's answer to his vision of their life together?
According to the nymph, what did the shepherd mean by "love"?
How old would you say the nymph is? Why?
What does the nymph fear?
Take the shepherd's part: argue that she's being totally unreasonable.
How do the nymph's outward attitudes toward the shepherd change over the course of the poem?
Are there any circumstances under which she might accept his plea?