The Passionate Shepherd to His Love Topics for Further Study
by Christopher Marlowe

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Topics for Further Study

(Poetry for Students)

Marlowe’s poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is a pastoral poem. Using the information you now have about pastoral poetry, write your own pastoral poem. As Marlowe did, invoke the traditional elements, such as the rural countryside and the shepherd, but try also to create a new tradition by including an element that will make the pastoral style uniquely your own.

Research the life of a shepherd in sixteenth-century England and compare it to the life of a shepherd in the twenty-first century. Which life would you prefer and why?

Both Sir Walter Raleigh and John Donne composed replies to Marlowe’s poem. Pretend you are a young Elizabethan woman; write your own response to Marlowe’s poem. What reasons can you supply to either accept or decline the shepherd’s offer? Remember to structure your reply in verse form.

Religious conflict between the Catholic Church and the various protestant factions created a great deal of tension and occasional danger in Elizabethan England. Research this conflict and, in a carefully written essay, explain the nature of the conflict and the ways in which this divisiveness affected the Elizabethan writers of the late sixteenth century. For instance, the popularity of pastoral poetry was enhanced by the comforting safety that an imagined countryside suggested. You might take this topic one step further and consider how safe, or dangerous, religious conflict made the countryside. However, you are not limited to just this one approach. Your research may suggest additional topics for you to consider.