A Comparison Between Marlowe, Donne, Raleigh
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Christopher Mallowe’s poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,”presents an overly optimistic view of love. He personifies the Shepherd’s love to both beauty and bounty. Sir Walter Relegh’s poem, “The Nymph’s Reply,” presents an overly pessimistic view of love. The nymph describes the Shepherd’s love as unstable and changing just as nature is; she believes that they both conclude in death and decay. John Donne’s poem, “The Baite,” presents an overly optimistic view of love. The lover in the poem is desperately falling in love with a woman, whom he describe is the bait that attracts him. These three poems use nature to express their different view of love.
The shepherd view love as happy, and cheerful; no hardships or unpleasantness are in his proposal. The shepherd offers his lover all the precious and beautiful things that nature holds. “Come live with me and be thy love”¦That hills and valleys, dales and fields, or woods or steepy mountain yields” (ln1, 3-4). The shepherd offers things that cannot be realistically obtain. “And I will make thee beds of roses…fragrant posies”¦a cap of flowers, and a kirtle.” He is living an enchanted life, and he believes that things in nature will satisfy the woman forever. To the shepherd’s view, nature’s bounty symbolizes great wealth of love he has for her. He has painted a wonderful fairy tale life in order to win his lover to be his wife. On the other hand, the lover in, “The Baite” is proposing to his lover to live with him in the “golden sands, and christall brookes” (ln 3). He to same as the shepherd is living a life that is fill with unrealistic and dreamy things.
In “The Nymph’s Reply,” the nymph describes the shepherd’s love or promise to her is insincere. “If all the world and love were young”¦truth in every shepherd’s tongue”¦pretty pleasures might me move”¦to live thee and be thy Love.” If, the shepherd is truthful in his promises and can grant such things, then she might become his wife. “Flowers do fade, and wanton fields”¦To wayward Winter reckoning yields.” She feels that time changes everything, and things will fade and decay as time change. The nymph sees his gifts of “gowns, shoes, bed of roses, cap, kirtle, and posies” as things that will “soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten” (ln13-15). She takes no pleasure in indulging in things that will not last, and love happens to be among them. She thinks that as time passes by his love for her will change.
As for the Donne poem, the lover knows that the bait is an invitation to her love; yet it is also an invitation to death. “For thou thy selfe art thine owne bait; that fish, that is not catch’d thereby, Alas is wiser farre than I” (ln 26-28). The lover wants to be caught, and be seduced by her; therefore, he is willing to die in her arms. Similar to the shepherd, the lover in this poem offers his beloved the serene life in the “river whispering and there the imamor’d fish will stay.” In fact, he is the same as the shepherd; they both can’t provide all those luxuries and beautiful things that nature gives. However, Donne’s poem is set in a natural scene, but there is no supernatural creature like nymph present. Donne’s invitation to his lover to join him is based on the seductive metaphor of his love being irresistible bait.
In conclusion, Marlowe paints a peaceful scene, where the shepherd promises to fulfill all his love’s dreams. However, Ralegh’s nymph presents a sarcastic view of the happy-go-lucky picture drawn by the shepherd. The nymph rejects the shepherd’s proposal to come live with him. In the Donne poem, the lover tries to persuade the woman into moving in with him. He knows that it will never happen; still he insists on trying to capture her heart. These three poems relate to relationships between men and women in today’s society. By nature, most men are concerned with whatever is going on at a single instance while most women are focused on long-term effects.