The Book of the Duchess and Other Poems

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

What is the tone of the Nymph's reply? What words or phrases reflect this tone? Explain your thinking and cite words and/or phrases from the text.

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The nymph's reply might be called realistic. She basically says that everything the shepherd says would be lovely if only people didn't grow old and change. The fact that the first line starts with "If" shows that she thinks that the shepherd has some ideas that would work if only things could remain in the one moment. However, "the flowers do fade," the roses "soon wither," and as long as these things happen (all negative), she can never live with him and be his love.