What does the shepherd offer his beloved in Marlowe's poem?

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In the original Marlowe poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love," the shepherd urges his beloved to "Come live with me and be my love." As with any young man trying to win over a young lady—or in this case a nymph—he paints a pretty picture of what kind of life they can enjoy together. He promises her a life of blissful ease among the joys of nature; they will recline on a bed of roses as the melodious birds gently warble their sweet song by shallow rivers. Who could resist such a wondrous rural idyll?

Well, according to Sir Walter Raleigh, the nymph could, actually. In his witty rejoinder to Marlowe, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," he gives some pretty compelling reasons why the nymph wouldn't want to go off and live with the lusty young swain. For one thing, he's a mortal whereas the nymph is immortal. And everything that's mortal, no matter how ravishingly beautiful, will one day decay and die. The swain, the melodious birds, the pretty roses, all of them will suffer the exact same fate. So where does that leave the happy little life that the shepherd offers to his beloved? All things considered, there's really no good reason why she should ever consider acceding to the shepherd's request.

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