What is the tone of "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love?"

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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The tone of the poem 'The Passionate Shepherd to his Love' by Christopher Marlowe is thoughtful, contemplative and dreamy. The rhythm is gentle and sing-song - almost like a lullaby as if the poet is coaxing his love with soporific words. The whole poem reads like a daydream description. The poet is not talking about things as they actually are in real life, but rather as he'd like them to be  -asking his sweetheart to come live with him and be his love. In idyllic language and neat verses, he spells out some of the pastoral scenes they could enjoy together - mostly only the attractive parts of the agricultural life. he pays scant regard to the harsh necessities such a 'love' might have to be prepared to undertake in terms of farm labouring and animal husbandry. We are left to wonder whether she will be convinced!

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that the main tone of this poem is ironic or exaggerated.  I believe that it is meant to be something of a spoof of traditional romantic poetry -- especially of pastoral poetry.

Traditionally, this type of poem would have the speaker telling his beloved that she should fall in love with him and they would be able to live happily ever after, generally in a rural setting (rural settings were seen as more calm and contented than urban ones).

In this poem, Marlowe still does this, but he takes it to a ridiculous extreme.  He promises all sorts of things that could never possibly happen.  Because of this, I think the best way to describe the tone is "ironic" or "exaggerated."

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