Updated September 10, 2022

“The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” and “A Quoi Bon Dire” Poetry Analysis

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“The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” and “A Quoi Bon Dire” Poetry Analysis essay
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Poetry is the only form of script and expression in which you can have a sharing theme over multiple pieces of writing that can be perceived in so many different ways by readers. In the analysis of the poem called “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” by Christopher Marlowe as well as the poem “A Quoi Bon Dire” by Charlotte Mew they highlight the constant factor in poetry which is even with sharing themes they can show totally opposing messages depending on what techniques the poets use. Between the two, they give very similar stands on the overall idea of what their poems appear to be about which are takes on the themes of love and death, however, they approach their message in such different ways which creates a contrasting yet connecting sense as a reader.

Charlotte Mew, the author of the French poem “A Quoi Bon Dire” in French translates to mean “what good to say”. Tragedies that occured in her adolescent life, sparked dramatic trauma and depression in her life, having an overall change to the writing she created, “death, mental illness, loneliness, and disillusionment—became themes in her poetry and stories”(Poetry Foundation). Her poem had a very clear theme that again consisted of death and love, however this consistently connected back to the author’s background and how it could have impacted the true meaning of the poem. The original impression was that the poet was writing about her own experiences, but the closer you read you see she potentially could have been writing about another person’s life or this could be an imaginary poem of her own self desires as she was known to have made a vow to never marry due to troubles she saw while growing up, coming back to the common theme of hers which was disillusionment.

Her poem begins in the first stanza by introducing a women who had lost a loved one seventeen years ago. Moving into a transition of voice which lightens the mood of the poem she says,”Something that sounded like Good-bye”,in context she emphasizes that this death seemed like it would be a tragedy but she knew it was not really goodbye. Transitioning into this idea that while everyone around believes her husband is gone forever, she knows he is still there with her in a perception of spirit. Going into the second stanza, it shows her talking about how she now sees herself, seventeen year later, growing old and coming close to to saying goodbye just as he once did.

In her appearance to the world she mentions her looks in aging and how everyone see her as this eldery women who is close to death, however to him, he still sees her as the same person. Which I believe shows a beautiful idea and wraps up her main idea that death and age has no limits on the depth that love can have on human beings. The third stanza is the shift in the poem that highlights the use of the setting.

The setting shifts to look at what I see to be the happy couple now as spiritual beings finally together again; now looking at a suggested young couple which I assumed when she said “some boy and girl”, who just began their beginning of life together through love. Highlighting the power of one’s love to each other through saying,”that nobody can love their love again”, upholds this idea that one’s love can feel and appear to never be as strong as people feel their own love is, showing that love is persistent, infinite, and in a way competitive. It felt as if there was a transition of death to life over one stanza, which built a strong connection even though there is this sadness to death, there is also a happiness shown by the couple.

Mew makes valid use of repetition, to create an image of her fantasy idea of this love she once had and lost, but in a sense that once lost love was still there in spirit. Her poem had this repeated element to show the quality of gain and then loss moved back to gain. The short poem consisted of two four lined stanzas, and then ending with one five lined stanza. The repetition comes in on the fourth line of each stanza where she creates shorter lines to show this idea of you once having everything and it can turn into loss in such a short amount of time. With each fourth line being so small in comparison to the others, it helps display this sadness of death by making the poem more soft at each fourth line, but one line over helps show the heal that you slowly grow through time after a loss.

The poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe, by the title can create an image of what the poem may be about. Which I see to be about a shepherd which men were normally referred to in the 1500s era, who is showing his passion to his love which is a women. With this idea of death and love but highlights it in a totally different way than Charlotte did in her stanza based piece. Marlowe was a famous poet around the time of the Shakespearean era, he drove his ideas through writing poetry and plays.

While Marlowe was looked at as a poet not as great as Shakespeare, “most dramatic poets of the sixteenth century followed where Marlowe had led, especially in their use of language and the blank-verse line.” (Poetry Foundation) His approach on death and love was created in a way where one has to work for love, and through that love there is endless time in the future. While I thought Mew’s take on her theme death and love started out with a dark setting and then transitioned into something bright, Marlowe takes it through a very strong aspect of positivity by his uplifting words on what he imagines his life to be with his spouse.

His take on a pastoral poem begins the first stanza that creates a very romantic idea by explaining to his love to come and live with him. He emphasizes the use of rhyme on every line of his poem by making lines one and two of each stanza rhyme; love and prove, fields and yields, rocks and flocks, etc. He explains that the two together can prove that through any,” valleys, groves, hills, and fields,” they can succeed. Meaning that any obstacle that they may seek, if she chooses to come be with him then they can get through anything. The second stanza highlights the promises the shepherd will make to his love; sit upon the rocks, seeing shepherds feed their flocks, and watching birds sing.

Which is where he creates the first move to his technique if alliteration, that is creating a movement to the poem that flows which I believe was done because he is speaking to his love and will do anything to move her in his direction. Moving into the third stanza he shows this move to the future by looking at romance with her but also death, as he mentions roses which is a popular symbol of death as well as posies which is a main symbol when people think of death. The fourth stanza shows the image he pictures in the future of marriage, as he says,” a gown made of the finest wool”. There is a common doing by the poet of many promises being made to his love, to convince her to come and be his love, because is he says yes there is so much to look forward to in the future; wedding and growing old with one another.

The speaker continues to idealize the things they can do together as he says they can wear fair lines slippers and buckles of the purest gold. Coming into the fifth stanza we take this idea on even more promises the speaker is saying he can make, it feels to me that he continues to say everything he possibly can in order to move her in the direction of staying with him. He adds more to their “future” like, glorious items for their time like coral clasps and amber studs, ending the stanza with another request for her to come stay with him and be his love. At the sixth and final stanza of the poem, he creates the question to his love seeing if all these pleasures and delights he’d told her is enough for her to want to be his love and if so, then she shall come be with him and be his love.

This idea of death and love is such a beautiful way to take on in the poetry field. The overall motive of these poems are shown to be very much similar in themes, but are created in very different manner.

“The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” and “A Quoi Bon Dire” Poetry Analysis essay

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“The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” and “A Quoi Bon Dire” Poetry Analysis. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-passionate-shepherd-to-his-love-and-a-quoi-bon-dire-poetry-analysis/


How do you analyze a poem?
Try to figure out the meaning of the poem. Imagery is a common technique used by poets to get their meaning across. Look for symbols. Look at the poet's choice of words. Determine the voice and tone of voice of the poem. Determine if the poem has a storyline. Look for a rhyme scheme. Determine the poem's structure.
What is the purpose of the shepherds poem?
Literary Analysis This poem is a celebration of love, innocence, youth, and poetry. Since the traditional image of shepherds is that they are innocent and accustomed to living in an idyllic setting, the purpose of such a pastoral poem is to idealize the harmony, peace, and simplicity of the shepherd's life .
What is the theme of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe?
Major Themes in “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”: Beauty, hope, and nature are the major themes in the poem. The poet expresses his true love for his significant other. The love, which he describes, offers merriment, joys, and excitement.
What literary devices are used in The Passionate Shepherd to His Love?
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.
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