The Passionate Shepherd to His Love Questions and Answers
by Christopher Marlowe

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Why did Marlow use alliteration in in the second stanza of "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"?  

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There we will sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals

There is mild alliteration in this stanza, but it is a rather effective poetic device.  Some of the alliterations occur at the beginning of words, while the sibilant alliterations (sibilants are "s's", "sh's", soft "c's", "x's", and sometimes "z's") also occur in the middle of words.  Let's examine both kinds.

The word-beginning alliteration in line one "we will" is probably not significant; they are common words which often occur together.  Of more import is the use of the imperative form of the verb "will" rather than "shall" (the rule, by no means fixed in Marlowe's time, is that the first-person pronouns "I" and "we" take "shall", unless it is the imperative mood -- then it takes "will".  The second- and third-person pronouns are the exact reverse).  Did Marlowe mean this auxiliary verb simply for alliteration, or was the imperative mood...

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