Analysis of Hyperbole in The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd

Raleigh's Use of Hyperbole in His Poetry

Raleigh exploits hyperbole in his poetry, which draws the reader in. Understanding why Raleigh used hyperbole requires reading Raleigh's poetry. In this poetry, the shepherd proposes to his beloved bride and depicts how their future will be impossible if they live together. The Shepherd presents a life filled with idealistic life joys set in a universe of earthy springs. Particularly, the shepherd has fantastic visions and makes promises about gifts and beauty that can only be fulfilled if "all the world and love were young" (Raleigh). The promises made by the persona are desirable, but they don't last long as they soon weather, break, and become forgotten, thus indicating the use of hyperbole.

The Concepts of Time and Change

Through hyperbole, the reader is able to note the concepts of time and change. It is evident that after some seasons, the shepherd's roses fade, the shallow rivers turn into rage, and the rocks grow cold. The shepherd lists promises that are too good to be true. For example, he states in the third stanza; he states "A honey tongue, a heart of gall" (Raleigh). The final words of the poem reveal that the promises were in a way unreal to an individual's life and thus depicting hyperbole. For example, the shepherd asks himself "But could youth last, and love still breed" (Raleigh). The hyperbole helped in bringing out the themes that Raleigh intended and drew the attention of the reader. Skepticism, decay, and lies are themes evident from the poem through the hyperbole used. The hyperbole is also a literary style that has greatly clouded the entire poem and made it interesting.

Work Cited

Raleigh Walter. The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd. Poetry Foundation.

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