What is the literal meaning of the 7th stanza of the poem "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love?"

Expert Answers
lewismct eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are only 6 stanzas in "The Passionate Shepher to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe. If you mean the 6th stanza, Marlowe presents an idealized pastoral world full of romance without the harsh realities of life for a shepherd. "The shepherd swains shall dance and sing / For thy delight each May morning." The shepherd would need to tend his flock, ward off predators, and would not have time for dancing. This poem is a comment on pastoral poems which harken to an unreal idealistic view of nature, love, and life.

lit24 | Student

Christopher Marlowe's (1564-1593)  pastoral love lyric "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love" is believed to have been written in 1588 when he was a student at Cambridge. It was published posthmously in 1599.

The poem is the  appeal of a young shepherd to his beloved lady love "to come and live with him." It is not a marriage proposal but only a 'live-in' arrangement.

The tone of the poem is both idealistic and idyllic. The shepherd lists out only the pleasures and not the drawbacks or dangers of a pastoral life to tempt her into accepting his offer.

In the seventh stanza he concludes his long list of pastoral attractions  by promising her that every "May-morning" (every day in the month of May) country youths shall dance and sing  and entertain her if she agrees to "live with him and be his love."

'Swain' is a poetic word for 'country or village youth.'

Read the study guide:
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question