"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a poem written by the English poet Christopher Marlowe, first published in Englands Helicon in 1599 (six years after the poet's death).

The Passionate Shepherd to His LoveEdit



Francois Boucher, Pastorale (detail). Painting by François Boucher (1703–1770), 1761.Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Marlowe - The Passionate Shepherd to His Love01:37

Christopher Marlowe - The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.
There will we sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle.
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.
A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my Love.
Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.


In addition to being one of the most well-known love poems in the English language, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is considered one of the earliest examples of the pastoral style of English poetry of the late Renaissance period. It is composed in iambic tetrameter (four feet of unstressed/stressed syllables), with seven (sometimes six, depending on the version) stanzas each composed of two rhyming couplets. It is often used for scholastic purposes because the poem is a good example of regular meter and rhythm.


The poem was the subject of a well-known "reply" by Sir Walter Raleigh, called The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd. The interplay between the two poems extends into the relationship that Marlowe had with Raleigh. Marlowe was young, his poetry romantic, rhythmic, and in the Passionate Shepherd he idealises the love object (the Nymph). Raleigh was an old courtier, and an accomplished poet himself. His attitude is more jaded, and in writing the Nymph's reply it is clear that he is rebuking Marlowe for being naive and juvenile in both his writing style and the Shepherd's thoughts about love. Subsequent responses to Marlowe have come from John Donne,[1] Cecil Day-Lewis, William Carlos Williams,[2] Ogden Nash,[3] W.D. Snodgrass,[4] Douglas Crase and Greg Delanty,[5] and Robert Herrick.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love - Twelfth Night, Stratford Festival Theatre03:58

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love - Twelfth Night, Stratford Festival Theatre

Marlowe's poem was adapted for the lyrics of the 1930s-style swing song performed by Stacey Kent at the celebratory ball in the 1995 film of William Shakespeare's Richard III. It was also the third of the Liebeslieder Polkas for Mixed Chorus and Piano Five Hands, written by P.D.Q. Bach (released in 1980) and performed by the Swarthmore College Chorus.


"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" exhibits the concept of Gifford's second definition of pastoral: literature that "describes the country with an implicit or explicit contrast to the urban". The speaker of the poem, who is the titled shepherd, draws on the idealization of urban material pleasures to win over his love rather than resorting to the simplified pleasures of pastoral ideology. This can be seen in the listed items: "lined slippers," "purest gold," "silver dishes," and "ivory table" (lines 13, 15, 16, 21, 23). The speaker takes on a voyeuristic point of view with his love, and they are not directly interacting with the other true shepherds and nature.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

Audio / video

"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" at YouTube

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