Luke Holm earn bachelor levels in English and also Philosophy from NIU. The is a center school teacher and also a an innovative writer.

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Poetic Structure

The poem, “The Nymph’s answer to the Shepherd,” was written by teacher Walter Raleigh, and is a solution from a nymph rejecting a shepherd’s proposal the love. The city is in iambic tetrameter. The is comprised of 6 four-lined stanzas or quatrains, whereby each iamb on regular basis alternates in between stressed and unstressed syllables. The emphatic rhythms emphasis on creating pauses in order to do the poem much more rhetorically expressive. Additionally, Drummond notes the Raleigh “end-stops his lines really sharply and additionally provides solid caesuras, occasionally two in a line.


By expressing in imaginative detail the thinking behind her rejections, stanza-by-stanza, the speaker within the poem, a young woman nymph, responds come the shepherd’s vision of your \"happily-ever-after.\" The nymph, having actually superior rationality, coolly objects the shepherd’s offerings and also explains to him the all that proposes is of the minimal timeframe the a mortal being; his offerings will certainly not last.


The Nymph's answer to the Shepherd

If all the world and love were young, and also truth in every Shepherd’s tongue, these pretty pleasures can me move, come live v thee, and also be your love. Time drives the apricot from ar to fold, as soon as Rivers rage and Rocks thrive cold, and Philomel becometh dumb, The rest complains of care to come. The flowers execute fade, and also wanton fields, to wayward winter reckoning yields, A love husband tongue, a heart of gall, Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall. Your gowns, your shoes, thy beds of Roses, your cap, her kirtle, and thy posies quickly break, quickly wither, shortly forgotten: In folly ripe, in reason rotten. Her belt the straw and also Ivy buds, The Coral clasps and amber studs, every these in me no method can relocate To pertained to thee and also be your love. But could youth last, and also love quiet breed, had actually joys no date, nor age no need, climate these delights mine mind might move to live with thee, and also be your love.

The Nymph Mocks the Shepherd

The poem begins and also ends she explanation in the good-bye mood; this helps collection up the rhetorical layout of the poem as she contrasts the theoretical vision the the shepherd to she own ethically reflective understanding. The diction of the poem is alluring. In the initial currently of each stanza, the nymph at first seems come adhere come the shepherd’s pastoral diction the a happy ending, however just as easily as the beautiful imagery is to adjust out, she mockingly undermines his vision through a much more literal check out of exactly how life is short and will quickly be forgotten.

This feeling of mockery is uncovered in the end-rhyme of every line. In every instance, the words help portray what is come be considered within the paper definition of the shepherd’s humanity vision of their life together. The words forgotten and also rotten, which space taken from the finish of the fifteenth and also sixteenth lines, help focus the imagery in the poem. The nymph explains to the shepherd that any gift he may give, to victory her heart, will soon thrive old, break, and also be forgotten. She alludes the a timeless biology such together herself sees points as lock will sooner or later become, “Had joys no date nor age no need, / then these delights mine mind can move” (22-23), and also that any kind of gift she receives is currently rotten in her eyes since of her foreknowledge of the readjust it will at some point go through.

Irony in the Shepherd's Proposal

As the stanzas progress, the darker, innate an interpretation of the nymph’s eternal message becomes less latent and also can be shown up in the shepherd’s mortal see of life. It quickly becomes apparent throughout the city that the nymph is attempting to help the shepherd. If the shepherd have the right to only focus on his love for the nymph, thinking just of the gifts that he will give her, she attempts to present him the irony of their discourse, forward to the the mortality of his pastoral life. When this complexity is understood, over there are 4 reoccurring motifs that arise in ~ the nymph’s explanation.


Motif #1: Mortality and Materialism

The first is the thematic technique of the entire poem itself. Behind the an excellent insight that the timeless nymph, over there is a structural expertise of life itself, miscellaneous the shepherd is not utilizing in his conquest. She is wise because she understands the communication of a mortal life; this would certainly be the knowledge of her reason, and is portrayed in the totality of the poem. There is no reason, there can be no insight. V reason, she ideologies the reasoning of the shepherd, or lack thereof.

It seems the motive for this conversation is the shepherd’s passion for the nymph; from thinking comes passion, native passion, comes love. When the shepherd to compare his love because that the nymph with the life the he lives, he supplies her gifts, for every little thing he knows together a mortal being is materialistic and also temporary.

Giving a materialistic gift to the nymph would be folly. She do the efforts to show this come the shepherd, explaining that his see of the future room not the same as hers; the syllogism of her rationality “attempts come subdue the diction that the gold pastoral the is the shepherd, and also show the the actual world” (Drummond 27). The real civilization that she attempts to display in her rejection the the shepherd predicates the fourth and final design template within the poem, the understanding of time. V a far better understanding the mortality, reasoning, love, and time, the nymph sets the end to assist the shepherd recognize the structure of her rejection, why a life together would not work.

Through the undying timeless beauty the is the nymph, it appears as though the shepherd has lost all awareness of thinking as the attempts come fabricate his love because that her v gifts and also mortal criter or ideals. Indigenous the beginning, the should have seemed to the shepherd that this relationship might have no avail, and also that basic deductive reasoning would bring about a quick denouement. However, the shepherd indicates the human being propensity for self-delusion together he falls to folly end the nymph’s grace. The lack of thinking is what create this poem, and also throughout the text, the nymph tries come revive reason within the shepherd.

Motif #2: absence of Reasoning

The absence of person reasoning transparent time is alluded to within the critical lines that the second-to-last stanza. The imagery describes the production story that man, mirroring mankind’s initial absence of reasoning, and also is presented within the poem, “A honey tongue, a heart of gall, / Is fancy’s spring, yet sorrows fall” (11-12). The imagery developed here originates from the double meanings of the words “spring” and also “fall.”

“Spring” first alludes come the seasons, as does “fall.” together they space juxtaposed together, over there is a sense that in the spring months, life begins to grow and also flourish, but during the fall season, life withers away, making all set for the fatality of life which is winter. ~ above a further note, “spring” and also “fall” becomes an emblem for person nature. The activity of “spring” is “fancy,” and also it to represent the base of mankind springing forth from creation, the resource of all that is. Contradictory to a beginning, words “fall” is “sorrow” as it symbolizes the loss of mankind, together it ages and withers far making means for winter or death.

Several doubters have analyzed the poem and also have connected it to the Bible’s development story. Brooke goes one action further and relates these lines to the creation story in ~ the Bible. He says that before mankind fell, there was simply “spring” or the start of life, with no death. In the beginning, there was still reasoning, because that there was complimentary will; totally free will will include reasoning due to the fact that of the brain's natural capacity to placed value top top right and wrong. That details that before the forbidden fruit was eaten, there to be no awareness that death, but the “honey tongue” of Satan who had actually “a heart of gall” was too tempting for Adam come handle, for this reason Adam disregarded reasoning and ate the fruit, which brought about the eventual “fall” of man. V this paradox, we are able to produce a deeper relationship with the nymph together she attempts to reason with man and man’s “heart that gall.” The shepherd’s “heart of gall” is blinded by his compassion for the “honey tongue.” These outcomes in what he believes to be love.

It constantly seems hardest to explain reason, once those who you are reasoning with have no feeling to listen. Together the nymph rejects the shepherd, she focuses on help the shepherd realize the he is not in love v her, but in lust. The aspect of explaining his folly have to be the most daunting task in her trilemma. If at an initial reasoning fails, surely the job of making someone realize their lust over love must prove to be much much more difficult. In the line, “In truth in every shepherd’s tongue” (2), the nymph coaxes the shepherd to listen, telling him come realize that his motives are true, yet are destined come fail. She compares his love to folly and also says, “When rivers rage and also rocks thrive cold” (6), i beg your pardon alludes come the emotionally ups and also downs of human being nature. As soon as in love, in the beginning, the feels together though emotions surge, simply as “rivers rage,” but with “spring” and “fall,” the season or feel eventually concerns an end, and also in come the fatality of winter, make the “rocks flourish cold.”


Motif #3: Love vs. Lust

The fight between love and lust is likewise valued as a crucial aspect by numerous of the poem’s critics. Forsythe says that in the lines, “And Philomel becometh dumb, / The remainder complains of cares to come” (7-8), Raleigh paints one exquisite snapshot of true love versus the shepherd’s lust. By saying these lines, the nymph clearly expresses the the shepherd's love for she is much like a short-lived season and also will soon pass the end of existence, simply as summer have to one day rotate to winter. The nymph offers the analogy of a love fated to dice to refer to the shepherd’s love as just a short-term feeling that will soon pass. V the passing of this feeling, the shepherd will involved realize what the nymph had actually been trying to tell that the whole time, and he will certainly realize the all that had readily available such as gifts and also emotion at some point wither and fade.

A Glimmer of Hope, if not for Mortality

The nymph very first focuses the shepherd’s emotions for her. She tells him the not also the deepest love between two beings have the right to last, that young love grow old, and also never stays young. The opportunity an undying love is represented within the an initial line of the poem, “If all the world and also love were young” (1). She states that neither she world, nor the civilization of the shepherd remains the same, and she identify that everything grows v age, simply as love will certainly grow and also eventually die through the mortality that the human being body. However, over there is a twist in ~ the end of the poem whereby the nymph speculates top top impossibility. In the critical stanza, the nymph shows indicators of the first glimmer of positive hope:

But could youth last and love quiet breed,

Had joys no day nor age no need,

Then this delights mine mind might move

To live v thee and be her love. (21-24)

The native “but” transforms the entire poem. Because that the first time, us are provided the assumed of what the nymph would certainly be choose if she to be mortal. Drummond notes that this suddenly conversion in ~ the city by usage of words “but,” “creates one unexpected anxiety on the poem, resulting in a pressure which we have actually been waiting for” (28). In this stanza, the nymph replies the if “youth last” and also love never finished “love still breed,” the there might be hope between her and the shepherd. The impossibility is speculated upon once the nymph says, “Had joys no date” or “age no need,” then and also only then could they be joined as one “to live through thee and be her love.” as result of the shepherd’s mortality, this plausibly impossible finishing helps erase several of the an ext morbid ideas that have actually been brought around through this poem. It helps show that even though all odds it seems ~ against particular something, there can still it is in a glimpse of expect left in the mind.

The nymph then proceeds to focus on the short-lived items which are the shepherd’s gifts to her. In the lines, “Soon break, quickly wither, quickly forgotten,– / In folly ripe, in season rotten” (15-16), the nymph reminds the shepherd that his presents symbolize decay and the pass of time: castle “soon break,” castle “soon wither,” and also they space “soon forgotten.” The nymph describes the intentional fallacy the while “in folly” the gifts may seem “ripe,” but to her, she watch the end of the “season” or life and also in turn, the items it seems to be ~ “rotten.” The concrete word “rotten” create imagery that have the right to be juxtaposed with plenty of parts of the poem. The concludes the end to all points as they eventually will rot as soon as the life has actually been taken indigenous them.

Motif #4: Time

The emotion of life moves forward to the final thematic facet of time. The understanding of time and also how the nymph offers it in her debate is the most important problem within this poem. With time, the nymph mirrors the exhausting energy of human nature, pointing out that there is a start which is followed by one end. Indigenous the moment Adam ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden that Eden, mankind was burdened v the expertise of happen time and the currently of death. The nymph, who is an immortal being, together all nymphs are, also realizes this, however relays it in different way to the shepherd. She sees presents as they will shortly become and love as it will sooner or later fail; they will certainly “fall” simply as guy will at some point wither and “fall” come his death.


Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, the nymph engages the pass out snafu throughout every line that the poem and replies come the shepherd v a multitude of pictures that aid get she statements across. She suggests that the shepherd lacks reasoning and that their circumstance was ultimately acquired from the lack of reasoning. She alludes to the paradox the shepherd’s love, stating that in reality he is not in love v her, yet has been overwhelmed v an animal-like lust for her. Finally, she speak of the result of time in ~ this trilemma.

In the nymph’s eyes, something that has actually mortality will eventually become “rotten,” for this reason she look at all the is placed in former of her together such. She look at the finish of the shepherd and also the finish of his gifts; as they age along with the world, castle head towards a common place, always transforming from young to old. Listing the critical of the shepherd's gifts, in the finish of the poem, the nymph replies, “All this in me no means can move / To pertained to thee and also be thy love” (19-20). When she replies, “in me no means can move,” it seems to be the nymph’s final rejection of the shepherd. She has become collection in her mind and also in her heart. She has actually not only convinced the shepherd of she rejection, yet she has convinced herself as well. In the end, she once again returns to the onward development of time, permitting all to grow old, to change, and to wither away just as it was expected to be.

Lecture: The Nymph's reply to the Shepherd by sir Walter Raleigh


Brooke, C. F. Tucker, \"Sir Walter Raleigh together Poet and Philosopher.\" ELH 5 (1938): 93-112.

Drummond, C.Q. \"Style in Raleigh's brief Poems.\" South main Review 3 (1986): 23-36.

Forsythe, R. S. \"The Passionate Shepherd and also English Poetry.\" PMLA 40 (1925): 692-742.

Hopkins, Lisa. \"And shall ns die, and this Unconquered?\" EMLS Archive. Ed. G. R. Siemens.

Raleigh, Walter. \"Nymph's Reply.\" England's Helicon. Comp. Flasket, John. Ed. John Bodenham. N.p. 2002.

Raleigh, Walter. \"The Nymph's reply to the Shepherd.\" BookRags. Yagmin, James. 1999. 16 Oct. 2008 .

Raleigh, Walter. \"The Nymph's reply to the Shepherd.\" Early modern Literary Studies. Ed.

Raymond Siemens. Brand-new York: Norton, 1996. N. Pag.

\"The Nymph's answer to the Shepherd an overview / study Guide.\" eNotes. 16 October 2008 .

The Poems of sir Walter Raleigh. Ed. J. Hannah. London: Bell, 1891. 11-12.

© 2017 JourneyHolm


WADDLEHEID top top September 14, 2019:

So usually the nymph is a pessimistic, proud immortal who doesn't know exactly how to evaluate things prior to they're gone and only thinks about how those points will disappear. Thanks for the testimonial though, due to the fact that of this, I know what come tell mine English teacher and also sorry because that the crude oil comment of how I view the nymph.

JourneyHolm (author) on respectable 11, 2018:

April, I totally agree that ns misused the ax couplet. Ns was initially referring to the first rhyming pair of every quatrain, yet have bring away your ide to heart and changed the verbiage. Is over there a term referring to the first rhyming pair of every stanza? Thanks!

April on respectable 08, 2018:

May i ask wherein is the couplet in the poem? due to the fact that you have actually used the word \"couplet\" in few of your explanations as soon as you have said in the beginning that that is created of 6 quatrains. And I believe there is no couplet in the poem. #JustGotConfused

JourneyHolm (author) top top February 28, 2018:

GlenR, give thanks to you because that clarifying Raleigh's purpose. My score is to extract as lot as possible from his art. The themes described over are mainly universal, and really important for people to reflect upon. Ns think the poem enables for such a conversation, which is why I composed this.

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Glen Rix indigenous UK on February 22, 2018:

An interesting analysis. This city is a direct solution by Raleigh come Christopher Marlowe's city The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, more commonly known by the first line - Come live through me and also be mine love. Raleigh is criticising what he experienced as Marlowe's naivety and juvenile method to his theme.