The Nymph’s Reply To The Shepherd

by SIR WALTER RALEIGH (c. 1554-1618)

(in reply to Christopher Marlowe’s Passionate Shepherd)

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

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh, a son of East Devon, was born at Hayes Barton in East Budleigh, probably in 1554. Unfortunately, the parish register begins in April 1555. The Raleighs were leading Protestants who used the new English Prayer Book. They saw the Vicar of St Thomas’s in Exeter hanged from his church tower and had visited Agnes Prest before she was burned to death in Exeter during ‘Bloody’ Queen Mary’s reign. continued here

Sir Walter Raleigh Contemporaries
Elizabeth I
William Shakespeare
Ben Jonson

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