Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the Rocks,
Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow Rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing Madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of Roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty Lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and Ivy buds,
With Coral clasps and Amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The Shepherds’ Swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.
Summary and Analysis
The Passionate Shepherd” is a poem of seduction. In it, the speaker tries to convince his listener to come to the country and be his lover. The speaker makes his case on the basis of the luxuries they will enjoy together in the countryside, describing it as a place of pleasure that is at once sensual and innocent. He wants his “love” to simply sit on the rocks for a while and appreciate the scene, without worrying about their responsibilities. Although the joys the speaker describes may be fleeting, they are still rich and seductive. Listing them, the speaker makes a case for embracing the pure pleasure of love and rejects the idea that doing so might have negative consequences. For the speaker, the countryside is a very sensual place. He is attentive to the materials and objects one finds in rural life: “straw,” “ivy-buds,” “beds of roses,” and “fragrant posies.” In his fantasy, he brings these objects into contact with the body of his “love”—making them into garments and beds. The fact that the speaker uses these objects in a suggestive fashion implies his underlying desire: he seems to want to take their place and caress his “love,” to pay close and sensual attention to the lover’s body.