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Christopher Marlowe's poetry has so many imagery elements that it is a prime illustration of an Imagist poem. This article examines the various types of imagery used in the poem, the emotions they express, and how they work together to contribute to the overarching message of the poem.
The poem's title is a picture of a loving person who looks after the one he loves. The “passionate shepherd” represents someone who loves and tenders about what is in their charge, guiding them to a certain destination. The writer uses the element of visual imagery to describe the setting of the place where the explained love brews. The poet describes the valleys, groves, hills, and fields, / Woods, or steepy mountain yields” (Marlowe, “1600 lines 3-4). The description of the setting sparks in the mind of the reader the settings of a place away from urban development and portray a setting in a countryside. To illustrate the naturally beautiful rural setting of the area described, the poet uses imagery through expert personification where he writes of Melodious birds singing madrigals” as well as Shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing” (Marlowe, “1600 lines 8, 21). To further describe his actionable love, the poet relates his actions to show his love to beautifully crafted images of making a bed of roses and a thousand fragrant roses.
How the Images work Together to form a Coherent Pattern
The figurative images in the poem such as “Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle” (Marlowe, “1600 line 12) complement the literal images that describe the various actions of the poet towards his love. All the forms of images spark a clear picture of a deep rooted love that is compelling to the plea of the poet of come live with me and be my love. Also, the unfolding of the images are such that they begin with describing the settings, then explaining the deliberate way of life the poet hopes for his love i.e. A gown made of the finest wool” (Marlowe, “1600 line 14). Finally, the poet pleads with his intended lover to consider all that he explains and accept the offer when he writes And if these pleasures may thee move (Marlowe, “1600 line 19). Therefore, the images work together to form a coherent pattern.
Feelings of desire to be loved are sparked by the poet as he explains the actions he will take to show love and care to his love. The idea of an avid lover is also well portrayed when the writer talks of a bud of straws and ivy buds” (Marlowe, “1600 line 17). From a readers’ perspective, the images give the idea that the poet is an imagist writer due to the extensive use of images to describe every aspect in the poem.
How the Images Contribute to the Overall Meaning of the Poem
The images in the poem are intended to lure the intended lover of the poet so that they will accept his plea of come live with me and be my love. The beautiful description by the poet portrays one who is caring for both his environment and those under his care in order to attract attention from the addressed lover. The unfolding of the plot is expertly described through images to show passion in the intentions of the poet to tender and care for his love like a shepherd cares for his herd, which is the overall meaning of the poem.
Marlowe, C. (1600). The Passionate Shepherd to his love.
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