Who is the speaker of the poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"?

2 Answers

leagye's profile pic

leagye | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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This poem is in the category of Pastorals, which Renaissance poets like Marlowe wrote to convey their thoughts and feelings about love and other subjects. Pastorals contain idealized, rural settings ("...and we sit upon the rocks, seeing the shepherds feed their flocks.") In "The Passionate Shepherd" the speaker is the shepherd himself, and he is trying to woo an un-named love interest by tempting her with bunches of fancy material possessions and lovely flowers (that do not last!) To gain a real sense of the speaker's perspective, read the reply that Sir Walter Raleigh wrote: "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." You will notice a decidedly different tone.

dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The speaker in this poem is an unnamed shepherd who promises to do all kinds of improbable things if only the object of his affections will accept his entreaties.  The poem is passionate, but does not necessarily address true love or commitment - there is no mention of marriage, nor of plans for the future.  The shepherd seems only to be asking the his lady to come come live with him and to enjoy the pleasures of the moment.