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The Passionate Shepherd to his love by Christopher Marlowe is a plea to his love, for her to move to the countryside to live with him. He idealises life in the country and makes it sound romantic and perfect. He ignores all the bad points and really exaggerates the good and what he is going to do for her when she arrives.
“To his Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell is also a persuasive poem from a man to a woman, where he is trying to entice his mistress to sleep with him.
He produces a very strong and convincing argument.
Both poems are similar in many ways, both are written on the same topic of love and passion and by men who believe they know the way to a woman’s heart. Both poems use very persuasive vocabulary to entice their mistresses into their lives. The wording of the text is very extreme and exaggerated to give a more romantic vision to the recipient.
‘And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies’ and ‘An hundred years should go to praise thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze’. The two poems can be compared to each other with their uses of rhyming couplets and they both use eight syllables on each line.
Although both poems are written in rhyming couplets ‘To his coy mistress’ is written as if it is being spoken as a speech. When you visually look at the poem you can clearly see the rhymes but when you read it due to the strange rhythm of the poem the rhymes are absorbed by the powerful speech of the poem.
However when you read ‘The passionate shepherd to his love’ you clearly hear the rhymes every two lines it clearly has a rhythm and has an almost song-like effect when read aloud. ‘The Passionate shepherd to his love’ carries only the truly romantic ideals of what life will be like where as ‘to his coy mistress’ talks in more gruesome detail of graves and death but it is also more realistic rather than idealistic.
The structures of the poems are quite different, ‘The passionate shepherd to his love’ uses a four lined stanza structure, a regular rhythm and regular syllables. Each verse is clearly set out with emphasis on the last words to each line and is easy to read. The words at the end of each pair of lines are carefully chosen to rhyme and compliment each other.
‘The shepherds swains shall dance and sing,
For thy delight each May morning’ is a good example of this.
The use of eight syllables to each line gives the poem a regular rhythm and beat. The predominant ‘L’ sounds throughout the poem makes the verse flow and is smooth and soft sounding making the words last longer.
‘By shallow rivers to whose falls,
Melodious bird’s sing madrigals’ is a perfect example of this. The poem starts very clearly telling you what the poem is about.
‘Come with me and be my love ‘ and finishes re-emphasising his original plan ‘Then live with me and be my love’ this ensures the reader is still understanding its true meaning.
The poem ‘To his coy mistress’ is also written in rhyming couplets but these are not made clear when reading the poem because of the commas and full stops. This breaks up the beats and rhythm of the poem and makes it sound more like speech. The structure using eight syllables is continuous throughout but is also only clear when visually looking at the poem.
‘For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate. This is a good example of the use of rhyme and rhythm but elsewhere in the poem it loses the rhythm by choosing powerful vocabulary that loses its rhyme by the way the words are spoken today.
‘And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity’. This quote shows perfectly what happens in parts of the poem thus breaking the flow and rhythm.
‘To his coy mistress is set up into three sections the first saying how much he loves her and how much she deserves to be loved. He implies that if he had all the time in the world he would wait for her. The next speaks of death and graveyards and the mood changes to a more sombre nature. He uses words like ‘if’ and ‘so’ implying that he doesn’t have forever.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault shall sound
My echoing song:
The poem uses a very powerful and clever way to persuade the girl to Succumb. The last section summarises all his feelings but says that they can’t make time stand still so they have to make the most of what they have now.
‘Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run’. This adds a sense of urgency to the moment.
The poem I prefer is ‘The passionate shepherd to his love’ because the vocabulary and the repetitive nature of the rhythm makes it flow and is easier to read. Visually and on first read the poems layout is easier to understand while ‘His coy mistress’ took a few reads to comprehend its real meaning. You can see what the poet wanted to say but it takes practice to be able to achieve it while reading it aloud.
The Passionate Shepherd used very visual words allowing me to see pictures of the life he described, comparing the lady he was writing to, always to beautiful things she deserved, while Marvell at times lost the picture amongst gloom and confusion in his words. After many readings both poems have become more clear and I like the way Marvell says that whilst you can’t stop the inevitable ‘death’ you can enjoy the speed of life by enjoying every moment rather than wasting it forever thinking of what might have been. Marvell’s poem would be the one to persuade me most because the reality in every aspect of life is, it’s not all sweetness and roses, it has many ups and downs making Marvell’s poem much closer to reality.
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