The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd by Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh obviously didn’t buy into the beauty of Kit Marlow’s poem in the same way that I did.

This satirical and deeply caustic poem can be read in two distinct ways. It is either the Nymph’s rejection of the Shepherd due to her own fear of mortality and the transient nature of love and life. Or it is a bitch slap rejection of pastoral poetry as a genera, particularly emphasising the lack of a voice in the medium for women.

Regardless, it’s a good read. Let me know which of the two YOU prefer.

The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleas 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 may move
To live with thee and be thy love


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