Jerry's Cruising Poems

The Nymph's Reply

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 complain 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.

Anonymous 1600

This poem is sometimes titled “The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd” or “Answer to Marlowe.” This poem appeared in “England's Helicon,” published in 1600, next to Marlowe's “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” The author was “Ignoto” (“Anonymous”) but it is usually attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh, an aristocrat, soldier, courtier to Queen Elizabeth and a friend of Marlowe. This is the same Sir Walter Raleigh who tried to establish a colony on Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina and introduced tobacco from the New World to England. The nymph rejects the shepherd. Perhaps Raleigh is calling the younger poet's concept too naive and romantic for the real world though the last stanza admits that Marlowe's proposition might be acceptable if the world was different.

Click to read “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe
Click to read “Another of the Same Nature, Made Since” Anonymous
Click to read “The Bait” by John Donne
Click to read “To Phyllis” by Robert Herrick
Click to read “The Passionate Sailor to His Love” by Jerry