Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lesson Plan: The Funny Nature of Love (Assignment #5)

Class/Audience: 12th grade British Literature Advanced
Unit: The Funny Nature of Love (themed)

Unit Goal being addressed in this lesson:
Students will be able to understand and implement conventions of pastoral poetry

Essential Question being addressed:
What constitutes love?
What is the ‘funny nature of love’?

Materials needed for lesson (texts, handouts, etc.):
Notes on pastoral poetry
Access to teacher's account (survey)
Access to teacher's podomatic account (podcasts for poems)
Access to YouTube (song rendition)


1. All websites are linked to the delicous account for samlap

2. Before class, students should complete the survey on "What is love?". Have friends and family complete the survey as well, making sure to indicate the student's name at the top of their response.

3. I will bring printed responses to class. From these responses, students will generate Found Poems based on what they believe love is. Read around and discuss.

4. Read the following notes on Pastoral Poetry:

A lyric poem is a poem that expresses personal thoughts and feelings. As the word lyric suggests, such a poem may have some of the characteristics of a song. It is often brief and written in rhymed verse with a pronounce rhythm. Many lyric poems have, in fact, been set to music, such as the one you are about to read. Ballads, sonnets, odes, songs, and elegies are some of the more common types of lyric poetry.

"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is one of the most famous examples of pastoral poetry. A pastoral poem is a lyric that celebrates the beauty and pleasures of country life. As a tradition in English literature, pastoral poetry often makes use of a number of conventions. The speaker in a pastoral poem is frequently a shepherd. He either addresses or speaks about a shepherdess or other country maiden with whom he is in love. The world of nature is idealized. The goodness and happiness of a life in harmony with such a world are valued about all else. Pastoral poetry was especially popular during the English Renaissance, but the tradition extends from the classical era of Greece and Rome to the present.

This poem is part of two literary traditions. it is part of the carpe diem tradition ("seize the day"), and it is a pastoral, from "pastor", the Latin word for "shepherd." Pastoral works are set in an idealized countryside, and their characters are often blends of the na├»ve and the sophisticated. The most famous of English pastorals, Marlowe’s poem has often been set to music, and several poets have written answers or sequels to it.

It has a lyric that celebrates the beauty and pleasures of country life. The poem also makes use of a number or traditional conventions: The speaker is a shepherd addressing a shepherdess with whom he is in love. The world of nature is idealized, and the speaker pleads with the shepherdess to live with him in harmony with nature.

In Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply," the nymph replies to the earnest, idealistic shepherd of Marlowe's poem in a skeptical, clear-eyed fashion, turning down his proposal.

5. Listen to and read the following poems from Podomatic in order:
"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd"

  • What pastoral conventions are used in these poems?

6. Remember from the notes that "The Passionate Shepherd..." is also a lyrical poem, meaning that it can be, and was often, set to music. Watch the following YouTube video and consider how the poem works in song rendition.

7. A parody is a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing while still maintaining stylistic elements by the original piece. Read John Donne's parody of "The Passionate Shepherd":

"The Bait"

COME live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines and silver hooks.

There will the river whisp'ring run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun ;
And there th' enamour'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, be'st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net.

Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest ;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.

For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait :
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas ! is wiser far than I.

Another parody:

"The Passionate Pupil Declaring Love"
Andrew Fusek

Come meet with me and after school
Perhaps you'll see that I'm no fool
If only you wouldunderstand,
How I want to hold your hand

We could walk around the park
Until the day grows old and dark
And on the swings we'll learn to fly
Together we will touch the sky,

And I will make a daisy chain,
Create a crown from drops of rain
Weave a gown of greenest grass
And watch the hours quickly pass,

As we run home through all the streets
I shall give you all my sweets,
The singing of the traffic jam
Will tell you how in love I am

In class your laughter makes me cry
And I just want to ask you why
You think that I am such a fool
To dream of meeting after school.

8. Answer the following questions:
  • How are these effective parodies?
  • What conventions do the satirists include from the original poems? Consider pastoral elements and structure.

9. Create your own parody of Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd" similar to the above examples being careful to include the literary conventions of the original.

10. **For extra credit**

Write a response to your parody similar to "The Nymph's Reply"


Record yourself putting one of the lyrical poems to music, the originals or your parody.


  1. I just finished teaching these two poems, and I wish I'd seen this beforehand. I like your inclusion of parodies of these selections; I do something similar with sonnets in my 10th grade classes. How much of this is done in class? How long does the entire assignment take? You will find that you need to set fairly strict parameters for the creation of parodies; students like to really push the envelope, and I know from experience that they will cross lines unless expressly forbidden to do so.

  2. You do a fantastic job of hooking your students into the lesson by first making them dissect their personal relationship with “love.” This little step makes such a huge impact in the classroom. When students are able to assign their own value and understanding to a lesson, they are much more likely to be engaged with the lesson.

    I also really love that you are letting your students listen to the poems. Love poems are bursting with passion, and sometimes it’s helpful to hear that passion in a voice instead of just reading it silently in your head.

    Parodies are a great way to allow students a voice and choice in their poems. However, one suggestion I would make is to show at least one model of a parody that they can more closely connect with in their modern lives. One example I used in the past was Weird Al Yankovic’s parody of rapper T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” – here’s the link: