illustration of the Nymph standing opposite the Shepherd with flowers surrounding them

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

by Sir Walter Raleigh

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"If All The World And Love Were Young"

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Last Updated on May 20, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 124

Context: Marlowe's famous pastoral poem that begins "Come live with me and be my love" produced several replies, one of which was supplied by Donne. Raleigh's answer to Marlowe was that of the realist to the romanticist: he points out that the pretty world of Marlowe's imagination simply does not exist. It is not always summer. Winter comes, flowers fade, birds no longer sing. Marlowe's invitation to his loved one would have meaning only in a world in which youth was eternal and happiness never-ending, where the pretty tales of shepherds could be believed. Raleigh's poem begins:

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

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