The English Pastoral Movement
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I am not sure what it encompasses yet but I am thinking of pastoral music, poetry (Silent Noon by Rossetti?), and even possibly some cultural & political overtones?
I think it stretches before 18th century and into early 20th century. But this group seems a decent place to start my quest.
You can see by my ignorance that I am in desperate need of resources...
pastoral A highly conventional mode of writing that celebrates the innocent life of shepherds and shepherdesses in poems, plays, and prose romances . Pastoral literature describes the loves and sorrows of musical shepherds, usually in an idealized Golden Age of rustic innocence and idleness; paradoxically, it is an elaborately artificial cult of simplicity and virtuous frugality. The pastoral tradition in Western literature originated with the Greek idylls of Theocritus (3rd century BCE), who wrote for an urban readership in Alexandria about shepherds in his native Sicily. His most influential follower, the Roman poet Virgil, wrote eclogues ( 42 – 37 BCE ) set in the imagined tranquillity of Arcadia . In the 3rd century CE, the prose romance Daphnis and Chloe by Longus continued the tradition. An important revival of pastoral writing in the 16th century was led by Italian dramatists including Torquato Tasso and Battista Guarini , while long prose romances also appeared in other languages, notably Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia ( 1590 ) and Honoré d'Urfé's L'Astrée ( 1607 – 27 ).
English pastorals were written in several forms, from the eclogues of Edmund Spenser's The Shephearde's Calender ( 1579 ) and the comedy of Shakespeare's As You Like It ( c.1599 ) to lyrics like Marlowe's ‘The Passionate Sheepeard to his Love’ ( 1600 ). A significant form within this tradition is the pastoral elegy , in which the mourner and the mourned are represented as shepherds in decoratively mythological surroundings: the outstanding English example is John Milton's ‘Lycidas’ ( 1637 ). While most forms of pastoral literature died out during the 18th century, Milton's influence secured for the pastoral elegy a longer life: P. B. Shelley's ‘Adonais’ ( 1821 ) and Matthew Arnold's ‘Thyrsis’ ( 1867 ) are both elegiac imitations of ‘Lycidas’. By the late 18th century, pastoral poetry had been overshadowed by the related but distinct fashions for georgics and topographical poetry , and it came to be superseded by the more realistic poetry of country life written by George Crabbe , William Wordsworth , and John Clare . For a fuller account, consult Terry Gifford , Pastoral ( 1999 ).
How to cite this entry:
"pastoral" The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Simon Fraser University. 19 October 2008