The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

By Sir Walter Ralegh 1552–1618 Sir Walter Ralegh
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,
The 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.

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Poet Sir Walter Ralegh 1552–1618

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Relationships, Men & Women, Romantic Love, Classic Love, Unrequited Love

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Couplet

 Sir Walter  Ralegh

Biography

Before his execution for treason, Sir Walter Ralegh won fame as an explorer of the New World — both for voyages to Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina (whose capital is named after him), and to Venezuela in search of El Dorado, the mythical city of gold. Also a scholar and a gifted lyric poet, Ralegh brought glory to Elizabethan England along with the potatoes and tobacco he is said to have introduced there.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Relationships, Men & Women, Romantic Love, Classic Love, Unrequited Love

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Pastoral, Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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