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The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

"The Nymph's Reply To The Shepherd" was written by Sir Walter Raleigh in response to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love". It could be considered a criticism, or at least a negative reaction to the original poem, as the nymph is in fact rejecting the shepherd in question quite harshly, and includes many lines that are directly connected to propositions made in Marlowe's poem. However her main reason for rejecting him is more related to her own feelings of mortality and the transience of life; from the last stanza, "But could youth last, and love still breed,/ Has joys no date, nor age no need,/ Then these delights my mind might move/ To live with thee and be thy love," it is evident that if the shepherd could indeed deliver his promises and his love could last for eternity, she would accept his love.

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

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.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall,

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Sir Walter Raleigh

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