As indicated in the poem’s title, the speaker of “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” is, indeed, a shepherd. This speaker doesn’t say much about himself in the poem. Nonetheless, we can make a few general observations about him based solely on the fact that the shepherd is a key archetype in the tradition of pastoral poetry. The typical shepherd of this tradition is a free-wheeling and liberated figure. He spends his days roaming the fields, minding his flock, falling in love, and singing songs in celebration of the simple life. This basic description is fitting for Marlowe’s speaker: a rather generic shepherd who attempts to lure an anonymous person—maybe male, maybe female—to come live with him in the countryside. The speaker entices his beloved with a very conventional account of his pastoral landscape. This landscape is characterized by a charming variety of “groves, hills, and fields” (line 3), and it’s also abundantly fruitful. As the most archetypal inhabitant of such a landscape, the shepherd implicitly lays claim to its material abundance and promises its fruits to his beloved. In this sense, the allure of Marlowe’s speaker depends heavily on his iconic status in the pastoral tradition.

Of course, the speaker is also a wordsmith, so we must also account for the power of his finely wrought language. Instead of making a sustained logical argument about why his beloved should stay, he relies on the pleasures of poetry to convince them. For one thing, he speaks using a four-beat line, which generates a galloping rhythm that has the catchy, sing-song quality of a ballad. More subtly, the speaker uses devices like consonance to give his language texture. Consider, for example, the proliferation of L sounds in lines 1–2:

     Come live with me and be my love,
     And we will all the pleasures prove

These L sounds have a lulling effect that quietly underscores the poem’s two key words: live and love. Finally, the speaker plays with meter in ways that use sound to evoke images. For example, consider lines 3–4:

     That Vall- | eys, groves, | hills, | and fields,
     Woods, | or stee- | py moun- | tain yields.

Note how the third foot in the first line and the first foot on the second line are each missing an unstressed syllable. These missing syllables cause brief moments of suspension, which sonically echo the up-and-down quality of the landscape. Even more subtly, this sonic image suggests the up-and-down movement of sex, which is arguably the ultimate aim of the speaker’s seduction.