In what ways does the poem, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" draw attention to itself as a work of art?

Expert Answers
jlcannad eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you look at the images in the poem, they are very reminiscent of a pastorial painting.  He describes "hills and valleys" and "dale and field" in a way that brings to mind the pastoral art such as “Landscape with Polyphemus” by Nicolas Poussin or "Landscape with Apollo and Mercury" by Claude Lorrain.  And this attempt to create a visual is continued by the very visual elements in the poem.  He describes the "beds of roses" and "buckles of the purest gold" and "silver dishes" on "an ivory table." The images are almost exclusively visual, creating an image of this perfect world that the poet would create for his lady love.

If you look at Les Charmes de la vie (The Delights of Life, which I've linked to below, you even see the images of nature contrasted against the natural landscape.  Marlowe puts "coral clasps and amber studs" against that backdrop of valleys and nature just like Watteau puts classic musical instruments and architecture up against the natural background of trees and grass.

So in many ways, the poem does read like many of the paintings just because of the visual images it creates and the way it justaposes the refinement and beautiful of an ideal human world and the perfection of nature. 

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