What is the mood of the poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe?
Despite the apparent simplicity of Marlowe's famous poem, its tone is multi-faceted. Above all the expression is a worshipful one, of both the speaker's love and of nature. It is also hypnotic in tone. The words are beautiful in the musical way that entrances the reader, as the shepherd is attempting to do with the girl he is wooing. If there is a quality about the tone that is paradoxical in some sense, it lies in the fact that the words could be construed as almost banal (by a cynic) in their way, and yet they are astonishing in the variety, in the multiplicity, of the ideas Marlowe uses to convey a simple thought.
As in pastoral poetry in general, the tone is intended to invoke an Eden, a realm in which man and woman can enjoy the fruits of the earth without fear or guilt. Above all, then, there is an innocence projected by the speaker, even though he is attempting a seduction. This could be seen as a kind of irony at the heart of the poem. One also can say that the wording is so smooth and gentle (and this is why it's hypnotic) that it could put one to sleep, like a lullaby.
Marlowe's poem inspired other poets to write "answers" to it, the most famous of which is probably Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." What is interesting, apart from the fact that Raleigh's poem is also great, is that although its meaning is in some way the opposite of Marlowe's, one can find more similarities than differences between the "tone" of the two poems.