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The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
by Christopher Marlowe

Sound Check

Read this poem aloud. What do you hear?

Running Through a Meadow

You know The Meadow Run? It's that thing in the movies, where two lovers, long separated, suddenly spy each other across a large, open expanse of grass and flowers and can't help but sprint towards each other as music swells up all around them and then there's an awesome kiss at the end.

Yeah. We think this poem sounds like that. The regular rhyme scheme creates a flow, kind of like the sound of footsteps, which builds upon itself as the poem progresses. Marlowe's clever use of poetic devices like internal rhyme, assonance, consonance, and alliteration, provides the music in the background by keeping the tone of the poem musical without reducing it to the sing-songy verse often associated with iambic tetrameter.

You can see this best in stanza 1:

Come live with me, and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yield.
(1-4)

The internal rhyme in me and be adds a musical sound to the poem, but by putting the rhyme in the middle of the line, Marlowe avoids making the poem jingle like a nursery rhyme. Marlowe uses consonance by repeating the L sound in the stanza to the same effect. Finally, the rhyming couplets hurry the reader along from one stanza to another, kind of like the lovers gradually pick up speed until the scene climaxes with their epic meeting in the middle of the field.

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