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Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd": Interpret the poem's imagery, use of meter, and symbolism.

Include your interpretation of the poet's thoughts and feelings, along with details about how the poet used literary conventions and poetic devices such as meter, imagery, and symbolism to communicate the meaning of the poem.

Conclude with an explanation of how the poet and readers rely on imagination for interpreting the meaning of the selected poem.

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd - Sir Walter Raleigh

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleas might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall,

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind may move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Sir Walter Raleigh

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Solution Preview

In terms of the thoughts and feelings of the poet, you'll have to assume they're the same as yours--there's no way to know for sure what the poet felt and thought as he wrote this. In terms of feelings, how would you describe the mood of the poem? Mournful, sad, bitter, world-weary, joyful, regretful, hopeful? The mood is closely connected to the meaning, which you gather from reading the whole poem. Who is speaking here? The title would suggest it's a wood nymph replying to a shepherd who has asked her to be his lover. Does she say yes or no? Why? In the last stanza (group of lines) she explains why. What's her reasoning? Think about what a nymph is--a young maiden. How might she view a human destined to grow ...

Solution Summary

Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is a poetic response to Marlowe's poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." This solution explores the poem's meaning, mood, and use of image, meter, and symbolism. Raleigh's poem has more to do with mortality, loneliness, and bitterness than it has to do with love.