The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd Analysis By Sir Walter Raleigh

The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd Analysis: The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd Analysis: Sir Walter Raleigh was a notable writer, poet, spy and explorer of the Elizabethan era. He was born on 22 Jan 1552 in England. He spent his early life in a farmhouse near the village of East Budleigh in Devon.

Raleigh was knighted in the year 1585. However, he was executed for treason on October 29, 1618.

Most of his works perished. He was a pathfinder of the Italian sonnet-form of writing in English. He popularized tobacco in England and was the cousin of Sir Humphrey Gilbert.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Summary of The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

A Nymph is a beautiful and graceful young lady. She is the personification of beauty. This poem was written as a parody reply to the poem “The Passionate Shepherd to Love” by Christopher Marlowe.

This poem illustrates the rejection of the nymph to the love proposal by the shepherd. Although the nymph adheres to the proposal initially, she quickly reminds the shepherd how short life is and how easily forgotten it is.

She embarks on the ephemeral nature of life and how someone should be practical with understanding life rather than get led away by emotion. Sentiments take over the reasoning capability of a person.

The concept of lust over love has been beautifully illustrated in the poem. The emptiness of love over the span of time has been highlighted in this poem.

She reminds the shepherd not to offer her extravagant gifts. She will not get swayed away by these gifts or the shepherd’s blandishments and fall for him.

Summary of The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

Structure of The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

The poem consists of six quatrains, with each stanza the fusion of two rhymed couplets. The predominant meter of “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” is iambic tetrameter, i.e., each line consists of four iambic feet.

The rhyming scheme followed in the poem is of the type AABB CCDD.

The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd Analysis Literary Devices

There has been the use of various literary devices like metaphors, alliteration, caesura, etc.

The use of an apostrophe is seen in the entire course of the poem. An apostrophe is when the speaker of the poem refers to a person who is not physically present in the scene- in this case, it is the shepherd.

Alliteration is the employment of repeated consonant sounds in words that are close to one another. An example of alliteration employed in this poem is “Rivers rage and Rocks”.

A metaphor is a speech figure where a word or phrase is applied to an object or action that is not literally relevant. The application of metaphor in this poem is highlighted in the phrase “A honey tongue, a heart of gall”.

In the line “Time drives the flocks from field to fold”, time has been personified.

An allusion is a literary device where an intended or indirect reference to a person, event, or thing or a part of another text is mentioned. The phrase ” Philomel becometh dumb” makes practical use of allusion.

The Nymph's Reply To The Shepherd

Detailed Analysis of The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

Stanza One:

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. ”

These lines bring forward the pragmatic nature of the speaker. She believes that only external manifestations are not enough to survive in this world.

If the utopian world described by the shepherd existed in real life, the nymph probably would have accepted the proposal and go ahead with the shepherd. The nymph’s rejection is about to present in the next lines can be presumed from these lines.

Stanza Two

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. ”

These lines highlight that time fades away, no matter how hard you try to hold onto it. The nymph embarks on time’s futility- everything has a beginning and is bounded by an end.

She mentions that the flocks go from the fields to an end, and the rivers show their wrath, and rocks become clammy under the reigns of time.

Philomel is a nightingale. The nightingale loses her voice with growing time.

All these changes show that nothing is permanent. However, although everyone else is concerned by these changes, the naive shepherd is not worried. He is occupied by thoughts of things that have no reality and are just fragments of his dream.

Stanza Three:

“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. ”

One should not live in the moment and think about the future. Sooner or later, everything fades away.

Every beautiful and prosperous thing eventually wither away in the dooms of time. Blooming flowers lose their freshness, and wanton fields lose their crops. The ruin brought by the winter after the flourishing spring is inevitable.

The “honey tongue” can be considered synonymous with the spring, which brings lots of riches but is ultimately met with the bitter winter bringing “sorrow’s fall”.

Stanza Four:

“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. ”

The nymph points to the illusion of gifts. Gifts are nothing but materialistic possession which lose their value in the coming times. They will cease to exist and lose their meaning or value attached to them and depart at the end of time.

They are simply temptations that hold meaning in the present time but lose that glory eventually. They are “soon forgotten.” The lines bring forward the idea of love being beyond earthy possessions.

Stanza Five:

“Thy belt of straw and Ivy buds,

The Coral clasps and amber studs,

All these in me no means can move

To come to thee and be thy love.”

The speaker’s thoughts are fixated on decay and perishment. The lines make us interpret love from a real perspective than a sugar-coated approach of only passion. The emphasis on Tempus fugit is relevant throughout the poem.

The unsubstantial insignificance fades away and what is left is to face the realities of life, which are harsh.

The beauty of nature and its extravagance filled with ivy buds and coral clasps perish just like the feeling of love. The speaker’s tone is filled with mockery, where she derides the transient nature of all the things that exist.

She speaks with a determination that these short sources of recreation are not enough to garner her attention or love. She is in search of something more long-lasting and timeless.

These greedy pleasures have no place in her heart, and she is governed with rational thoughts than getting carried away by petty things.

Stanza Six:

“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.”

The use of the word “But” at the beginning of this stanza changes the poem’s tone from pessimistic to optimistic. There is still a ray of hope for the love between the two to bloom.

The nymph mentions that if love remains young and the passion never dies, their love will blossom. The mortality of the shepherd can never make their love eternal.

However, it helps to demonstrate that even though all likelihoods seem against the start of their love, there can still be a flash of belief left in mind. This last bit of hope helps to obliterate the other morbid thoughts of end and death characterized in the earlier stanzas.