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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love - Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That Valleys, groves, hill, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the Rocks,
Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow Rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing Madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty Lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and Ivy buds,
With Coral clasps and Amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The Shepherds' Swains shall dance and sing
For they delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.


After yesterday's E. E. Cummings, I was in the mood for a more traditional poem with pastoral imagery.  There is not that much that is remarkable about this poem, if I am honest, but I find it to be lovely and direct.  The imagery puts one in mind of a sleepy British countryside, sweeping plains, fields, sheep grazing lazily upon rolling hills, the air full of such birdsong as to be compared with madrigals.

A lover's profession of devotion to his lady, he promises the whole of Nature's bounty to her, a woolen gown earned of their hard work and adornments of beautiful leaves and flower buds.  It is a picturesque fantasy of what their life together may be like.  This rosy life is the one imagined by the speaker, of how wonderful things would be if his love would come live with him, and be his love.  It's simple, direct, and romantic.  Though it is an outdated mode, I think many readers even today will sigh with delight at the imagined prospect of a pastoral life with their live.

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