What specific gifts does the speaker promise to give to his beloved? Do you think that these promises are realistic? Explain your reasoning.  

1 Answer

lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

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 posthumously 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, hence the promises which he makes are only meant to flatter and seduce her and are certainly not realistic.

In the third stanza he promises her that he will make her a bed of fragrant flowers like posies and roses. He says he will make her a cap of flowers and that her skirt will be embroidered with myrtle leaves.

In the fifth and sixth stanzas he promises to make her a woolen gown and fur lined slippers with golden buckles and a belt made of straw and ivy buds with coral clasps and amber studs.

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.'