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The Age of Romanticism produced a number of love poems, among them is Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” In this poem, we see a young man wooing a girl to spend her life with him. With a young man as the persona, this poem demonstrates the…
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How Passionate Youth Can Be (412 words) Part The Age of Romanticism produced a number of love poems, among them is Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” In this poem, we see a young man wooing a girl to spend her life with him. With a young man as the persona, this poem demonstrates the practice of courtship in the earlier days. Analyzing the poem can lead readers to compare and contrast the earlier ways with today’s practice of courtship.
The poem starts with the young man’s invitation to the girl to live with him and be his love in order to experience all the pleasures in life. By pleasures, he means seeing “shepherds feed their flocks” (6), listening to “birds sing madrigals” (8) or wearing the finest handmade wool, etc. Notably, these are simple pleasures that are possibly appealing to women in the 16th Century. The promises of the lad sum up to one central romantic theme, the simplicity of life. The Romantic writers were fond of writing about the simplicity of life and the joy it brings to them who observe and take time to appreciate nature and the environment.
The natural elements such as gold, silver, corals, amber and ivory, which the shepherd would use to make his lady love feel special add to the notion of finding joy in nature but they are not part of the simple life that a shepherd could offer. Undoubtedly, a shepherd can provide the promises he makes in the first three stanzas but those appearing in the middle of the fourth stanza up to the end of the poem are too much for him to offer. Therefore, the second half may be said to be exaggerations or mere promises out of his wishful thinking. They serve to fool the girl or make her believe that she will have a good life if she comes with the man.
Part 2
The form of courtship in Marlowe’s poem is not far from the modern practice. Many guys would promise everything to a girl in the beginning or during courtship. They act very gentlemanly during the first few dates, call up the girl every hour, fetch her everyday, etc. but later on make the woman wait, give her headaches, and worst, have two or more girlfriends at the same time. Just like the passionate shepherd in the poem, the guys these days pretend to have a lot in life while they actually struggle to make a living. Being one hundred percent true to a girl seems to be out of the practice from the 16th Century up to the modern times.
The Depth of Romantic Love (631 words)
Part 1
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is considered one of the best female poets in the history of English literature. It is therefore proper for every student to study her works so as to get a glimpse of classical literature. One of her renowned poems is Sonnet 43 or “How Do I love?” In this poem, Browning makes use of philosophical elements to express intense emotionality, a major characteristic of Romanticism.
The poem starts with a question, “How do I love thee?” This question may be uttered in front of the loved one or it may be a personal reflection of the speaker. With the continuous tone of the poem, the second idea is more possible. Likewise, the emotional state of the persona implies that she is alone and thinking of the addressee. In the introduction, she reveals that she loves the man “to the depth and breadth and height” (2) her soul can reach. The use of the “soul” makes the feeling not only physical but even spiritual, which makes the feeling unfathomable. The clever choice of the term “soul” elevates the feeling as no one can actually determine the depth or height that it can attain.
Browning also compares her love to the way men “strive for right” (7), which is another element that cannot be fully defined. Men struggle for right in different ways and different height. There are those who even die for their right to vote, to express themselves or to live. Until now, the struggle is still felt different places. Therefore, comparing the love of the persona to the way people strive for right, there is more than intensity to the love. As long as men strive for right, the love still lives, hence it is indefinite.
The persona also compares her love to her “old griefs” and “childhood faith” (10). Again, these things cannot be measured. The two things mentioned are both in the past, hence they are difficult to determine or are indefinable. Specifically, old griefs could mean regrets in life while childhood faith could mean her beliefs in fantasy, magic, fairy tales, etc. These things seem philosophical as they are unfathomable, mystical and idealistic.
Moreover, the persona also reveals that she loves with the “breath, smiles, tears” (12-13) of her life. Again, these things are immeasurable, thus the love is immeasurable. The words are used metonymically to mean all her life and all that she does. By saying this, the persona offers her life not just her love to the addressee.
Finally, the persona expresses her intention to love the man even better after her death. The belief that there is life and loving even after death is very philosophical and can neither be affirmed nor denied. Wishing to love someone even after death is a way to border on the unreal and the mystical. This intensity of emotions is natural among Romantic writers as they were fond of exploring the unreal through sensibility and emotions.
Part 2
Everybody experiences love but in different levels. No one can be sure when love hits and how hard it hits you. I am not sure if I felt the same love that Browning describes in the poem but if it will, I believe I will be out of my mind. From the way I analyze it, the love she describes is really unfathomable; only she can define it. If I will be struck with that kind of love, I will not be able to handle it. I guess I will not be able to accomplish anything, and my time will be spent daydreaming. Therefore, if I were to choose my destiny, I would not wish to be in love just like the persona. If love should come my way, I want to be able to define, control and enjoy it, consciously aware of the reasons for loving and the effects it could bring my life.
Works Cited
Barrett-Browning, Elizabeth. “Sonnet 43: How Do I Love Thee?” Love Poetry from Classical Literature by Linda Rosenkranz. p.2.
Marlowe, Christopher. “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” Love Poetry from Classical Literature by Linda Rosenkranz. p.11. Read More
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