Showing posts with label theory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theory. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Encyclopedia of the Gothic - Review



“Infinity made imaginable.”


A review of The Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2016), edited by William Hughes, David Punter and Andrew Smith. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-119-06460-2. (880 pages).

     The general editors (William Hughes, David Punter and Andrew Smith) begin their Introduction to The Encyclopedia of the Gothic by employing the now well-known story of the Chinese encyclopedia, popularized by Jorge Luis Borges and by Michel Foucault in The Order of Things (1970). Although they choose to employ the definite article in their chosen title, their enlightened emphasis on ‘provisionality’ hints at the struggle with the ‘epistemologically firm structure of an encyclopedia’ (p. xxxiv). Indeed, the evidence of diversity and the proliferation of resources [FN1] on gothic appears to challenge the possibility of constructing an encyclopedia in fixed media. Fortunately, the online version will provide an opportunity to interact with the suggestions of readers in order to cope with ‘an ever evolving genre’ (p. xxxviii). Nonetheless, the print version marks an excellent opportunity to take stock of the current state of play in gothic studies and to critically survey this gargantuan domain of academic research.

     In one sense, it might be proposed that academic canonicity originates in the authority and the legitimacy of scholars recruited to the project. In addition to the esteemed general editors the reviewer counted some 40 professors amongst the 131 contributors writing on 244 topics. It is also reassuring for the health of the subject that many early career scholars have joined forces with the influential writers who have been transforming the theoretical directions of Gothic studies since the 1980s.

     In short, it’s a highly impressive and monumental effort of collaborative scholarship. I do not envy the task of the editors who must bear the burden of their judiciousness: what to include, what to exclude. Digging deeper reveals that there are underlying narratives and a sense of shared assumptions about the Gothic project and approaches to reflecting on the diverse phenomena conceptually and theoretically.  Given that the gothic genre is not confined to a canon of literary texts the critical project is all the more arduous and the monster of possibility spreads out in all directions. Gothic has become a global project, national and transnational in its replication and migration. As if nodding to the academic industry that has fuelled the dissemination of gothic the editors kindly offer an entry at the centre of their encyclopedia around which all other entries circulate: the International Gothic Association (IGA), whose inaugural conference was held at the University of East Anglia in 1991. Incidentally, two of the general editors, Andrew Smith and William Hughes, are co-presidents of the International Gothic Association, and the latter is also the founding editor of Gothic Studies, the refereed journal of the International Gothic Association.

     It is rather impertinent to question whether a book of this kind is really needed when so much is already available elsewhere, and more material than ever is available on open access. Indeed, the IGA website (www.iga.stir.ac.uk) is a useful place to start. Google Scholar throws up 442,000 references to ‘gothic’ so it’s undoubtedly very helpful to have some guidance to refine the search terms. Certainly this volume compares well with a range of other histories, guides, and companions that have been designed to cater for the undergraduate market. It’s obviously also a safe place to start for students who want to research a specific topic, or to improve their awareness of key themes, concepts, and theoretical approaches. The editors have managed to meet the need for accessibility without falling into the trap of a gross over-simplification of complex ideas. Entries range in length from a thousand words, up to five thousand for ‘period’ surveys. The general policy of the editors has been to offer a survey of the gothic field that covers ‘periods, places, people and media.’ (p. xxxvii) Short bibliographies accompany each entry, together with cross-references. A well-constructed traditional index also helped this reviewer to track down more minor topics that I had deemed to have been missed out.

     Comparison with the much demonised Wikipedia reveals the value of having an erudite collection of short articles that serve as a trusted introduction to key topics in the field of Gothic studies. In terms of geography there are well-informed entries on the regional, national, or wider traditions: African American Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), American Gothic (Charles L. Crow), Anglo-Caribbean Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), Asian Gothic (Katarzyna Ancuta), Australian Gothic (Ken Gelder), Canadian Gothic (Faye Hammill), Dutch Gothic (Agnes Andeweg), European Gothic (Francesca Billiani), French Gothic (Terry Hale), Japanese Gothic (Katarzyna Ancuta), Jewish Gothic (Ruth Gilbert), New England Gothic (Faye Ringel), New Zealand Gothic (Timothy Jones), Russian Gothic (Neil Cornwell), Scandinavian Gothic (Yvonne Leffler), Scottish Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), Southern [US] Gothic (Meredith Miller), and Welsh Gothic (Jane Aaron); but curiously British Gothic and English Gothic are omitted as self-standing entries. One assumes that these categories were sufficiently represented elsewhere, like a background noise that is unnoticed, or a torture to which we have so long submitted that we no longer feel the pain of its presence. (I note that Wikipedia has an entries on ‘Tasmanian Gothic’ and ‘Southern Ontario Gothic’; whereas the Encyclopedia offers ‘Fin-de- siècle Gothic’ (Emily Alder) Wikipedia supplements with an entry on ‘Mal du siècle’.)

     The notion of transnationalism and the migration of Gothic tropes and narratives is evidently becoming more urgent as a focus for international scholarship and collaboration. In this regard David Punter’s entry on ‘Theory’ notes: ‘it involves the constant contact, now prevalent more than ever before because of the globalized spread of cultural interchange, between Western textualities and “indigeneous” folktales and related material.’ (692) Undoubtedly the traffic is multi-dimensional and therefore the encyclopedic projects of a Western intelligentsia and the habits of cultural consumers need to be constantly alerted to the notion of the key role of ‘provisionality’ and ‘interaction’ previously noted.

     Psychoanalytic and other theoretical approaches to Gothic are well served in this volume, perhaps revealing the interest of the general editors and the academic readership that the book targets. Taking a lead from Dale Townshend’s The orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan and the subject of Gothic writing, 1764-1806 (2007) David Punter’s entry on ‘Theory’ notes that theory ‘does not have to bifurcate into, on the one hand, purely historical study and, on the other, an attempt to demonstrate “universal” aspects.’ (692)

     Many entries bear the bite marks of the kiss of theory and most are commendable for their clarity and accessibility; examples include:  Abjection (Elisabeth Bronfen); Blood (William Hughes); Commodity Gothicism (Tricia Lootens); Criticism (William Hughes); Cryptonymy (Cynthia Sugars); Doubles (Dale Townshend); Environment (Gregg Garrard); Female Gothic (Diana Wallace); the Grotesque (Maria Parrino); Liminality (Katie Garner); Monstrosity (Jerold E. Hogle); Phobia (Anthony Mandal); Poststructuralism and Gothic(Julian Wolfreys); Psychoanalysis (Roger Luckhurst); Queer Gothic (Max Fincher); Sex (Ruth Anolik); Spectrality (Julian Wolfreys); the Sublime (Max Fincher); the Uncanny (Anneleen Masschelein) and Zombies (Fred Botting). All entries pay lip service to a theoretical approach but it would not be kind to assert, or to give the impression, that a theory-driven agenda dominates and overwhelms other kinds of critical appreciation and historical enquiry. In this case, the gothic church is highly accommodating and tolerant.

     Curiously, the entry on Future Gothic (Nema Montezero) appears without any References or Further Reading. Is that the Shape of Things to Come? Media topics are represented by entries on popular TV, Film (Stephen Carver), Games (Tanya Krzywinska); Radio (Richard  J. Hand), and many more. The longest entries (up to five thousand words) in The Encyclopedia of the Gothic tend to be devoted to the surveys of periods and movements. These entries provide a convenient route for students who are embarking on the study of the gothic for the first time and who need a judicious summary rather than an awesome monograph. Given the high cost of downloading academic articles, it is evident that a modest investment in a resource such as The Encyclopedia of the Gothic clearly represents excellent value for undergraduates, independent scholars and general readers. The theoretical approaches will also prove an essential resource for those seeking to engage with current academic research on the gothic.

Ian McCormick, M.A.(St Andrews), PhD (Leeds).

FN1: 'Nobody ever complains of having too little to read, as Richard Fisher, the managing director of Cambridge University Press’s academic division, has put it at many conferences.' See Martin Paul Eve, Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

TOPICS COVERED:
  • Abjection
  • Abyss
  • Adultery
  • African American Gothic
  • Aickman, Robert
  • Ainsworth, William Harrison
  • Alcohol
  • American Gothic
  • Amityville
  • Angel
  • Anglo-Caribbean Gothic
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Apparition
  • Architecture, Gothic
  • Asylums
  • Atwood, Margaret
  • Australian Gothic
  • Avatar

  • Barker, Clive
  • Baudelaire, Charles
  • Beckford, William
  • Benson, E. F.
  • Bierce, Ambrose
  • Blackwood, Algernon
  • Blood
  • Bluebooks
  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth
  • Brite, Poppy Z.
  • Brown, Charles Brockden
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Bulwer-Lytton, Edward
  • Burger, Gottfried
  • Burton, Tim
  • Byron, George Gordon, sixth Baron

  • Cabell, James B.
  • Campbell, Ramsey
  • Campus Gothic
  • Canadian Gothic
  • Carter, Angela
  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
  • Collins, Wilkie
  • Colonial Gothic
  • Comic Gothic
  • Comics and graphic novels
  • Commodity Gothic
  • Confession
  • Coover, Robert
  • Corelli, Marie
  • Counterfeit
  • Crime
  • Criticism
  • Cronenberg, David
  • Crowley, Aleister
  • Cryptonymy
  • Cult Fiction
  • Cults, Gothic
  • Curse

  • Dacre, Charlotte
  • Davis, M. E. M.
  • De Quincey, Thomas
  • de Sade, Marquis
  • Degeneration
  • Dickens, Charles
  • Disability
  • Domestic Gothic
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor
  • Doubles
  • Drama
  • Dream
  • Drugs
  • du Maurier, Daphne
  • Dutch Gothic

  • Editorship
  • Ellis, Bret Easton
  • Environment
  • European Gothic

  • Family
  • Fate
  • Faulkner, William
  • Female Gothic
  • Film, Gothic
  • Folklore and Gothic
  • Freeman, Mary Wilkins
  • French Gothic
  • French Gothic Film
  • Friday the 13th
  • Future Gothic

  • Games
  • German Expressionism
  • German Gothic
  • Ghost Stories
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
  • Godwin, William
  • Goth
  • Gothic 1900 to 1950
  • Gothic 1950 to the Present
  • Gothic Revival Architecture
  • Graveyard Poetry
  • Grotesque, The

  • Halloween
  • Hammer
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel
  • Herbert, James
  • Hill, Susan
  • Hoffmann, E. T. A.
  • Hogg, James
  • Hope-Hodgson, William
  • Horrid
  • Horror Fiction
  • Hypnotism

  • Imperial Gothic
  • Incest
  • Inheritance
  • Inquisition
  • International Gothic Association, The
  • Intertext
  • Ireland, William Henry
  • Irish Gothic

  • Jackson, Shirley
  • James, Henry
  • James, M.R.
  • Japanese Gothic
  • Jewish Gothic

  • Kafka, Franz
  • King, Stephen
  • Kipling, Rudyard

  • Lathom, Francis
  • Law and the Gothic
  • LeFanu, Sheridan
  • Lemoine, Ann
  • Lesbian Gothic
  • Lewis, Matthew
  • Liminality
  • Lovecraft, H. P.
  • Lugosi, Bela

  • Macabre, The
  • MacDonald, George
  • Machen, Arthur
  • Magazines
  • Manga
  • Marsh, Richard
  • Masks, Veils and Disguises
  • Matheson, Richard
  • Maturin, Charles 
  • McCabe, Patrick
  • McCarthy, Cormac
  • McGrath, Patrick
  • Mediumship
  • Melodrama
  • Melville, Herman
  • Misogyny
  • Modernism
  • Monster Movies
  • Monstrosity
  • Mummy
  • Music

  • Necromancy
  • New England Gothic
  • New Zealand Gothic
  • Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Nordier, Charles

  • O’Connor, Flannery
  • Oates, Joyce Carol
  • Occultism
  • Odoevsky
  • Opera

  • Penny Dreadfuls
  • Phobia
  • Poe, Edgar Allan
  • Poison
  • Polidori, John
  • Popular Culture
  • Portraiture
  • Postcolonial Gothic
  • Postmodern Gothic
  • Poststructuralism and the Gothic
  • Protestantism
  • Psychical investigation
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychological Thrillers

  • Queer Gothic

  • Race
  • Radcliffe, Ann
  • Radio
  • Reeve, Clara
  • Reynolds, George
  • Rice, Anne
  • Rohmer, Sax
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Romanticism
  • Rosicrucianism
  • Ruins
  • Russian Gothic

  • Scandinavian Gothic
  • Schiller, Friedrich
  • Science and the Gothic
  • Scottish Gothic
  • Secret Histories
  • Secret societies
  • Sensation Fiction
  • Sensibility
  • Sex
  • Shelley, Mary
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe
  • Shilling Shocker
  • Sinclair, May
  • Slasher movies
  • Slavery
  • Southern Gothic
  • Spectacle
  • Spectrality
  • Spiritualism
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis
  • Stoker, Bram
  • Straub, Peter
  • Sturm und Drang
  • Sublime, The
  • Suburban Gothic
  • Supernatural, The

  • Taboo
  • Tales of Terror
  • Teaching Gothic
  • Technologies
  • Teenage Gothic
  • Tegg, Thomas
  • Television
  • Terror
  • Theory and Gothic
  • Thompson, Alice
  • Translation
  • Twilight

  • Uncanny, The
  • Urban Gothic

  • Vampire fiction
  • Victorian Gothic
  • Village Gothic
  • Voodooism

  • Walpole, Horace
  • Wells, H. G.
  • Welsh Gothic
  • Werewolf
  • Wharton, Edith
  • Wheatley, Dennis
  • Wilkinson, Sarah
  • Williams, Tennessee
  • Witchcraft
  • Wordsworth, William

  • Zombies

CONTRIBUTORS:

Aaron, Jane University of Glamorgan UK
Alder, Emily Edinburgh Napier University UK
Ancuta, Katarzyna Assumption University of Thailand Thailand
Anderweg, Agnes Maastricht University Netherlands
Anolik, Ruth Villanova University USA
Armitt, Lucie University of Salford UK
Bak, John S. Nancy Université France
Balmain, Colette
UK
Barlett, Mackenzie

Bennett, Mark
UK
Berthin, Christine Universite Paris Quest France
Billiani, Francesca University of Manchester UK
Billingham, Peter
UK
Blake, Linnie Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Botting, Fred University of Lancaster UK
Bronfen, Elisabeth Englisches Seminar Switzerland
Byron, Glennis University of Stirling UK
Campbell, James University of Stirling UK
Carver, Stephen Norwich School of Art and Design UK
Carver, Stephan University of East Anglia UK
Chaplin, Susan Leeds Metropolitan University UK
Chromik, Anna Institute of English Cultures and Literatures
Collins, Richard Louisianna State University USA
Cologne-Brookes, Bath Spa University UK
Conrich, Ian Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Cooper, Andrew Georgia Institute of Technology USA
Crow, Charles
USA
Curl, James Stevens
UK
Daly, Nick University College Dublin ROI
Davison, Carol Margaret University of Windsor Canada
Edwards, Justin University of Surrey UK
Fincher, Max
UK
Fischer, Benjamin Franklin
USA
Foley, Matt Stirling University UK
Franklin, Caroline Swansea University UK
Freeman, Nick Loughborough University UK
Garrard, Greg Bath Spa University UK
Gelder, Ken University of Melbourne Australia
Germana, Monica University of Westminster UK
Gibson, Matthew
UK
Gilbert, Ruth
UK
Hale, Terry Hull University UK
Hammill, Faye University of Strathclyde UK
Hand, Richard J. University of Glamorgan UK
Hartnell-Mottram, Elaine Liverpool Hope University UK
Heholt, Ruth Falmouth University UK
Hoeveler, Diane Long Marquette University USA
Hogle, Jerrold University of Arizona USA
Hollington, Mike

Horner, Avril  Kingston University UK
Huang, Chiung-ying Bristol University UK
Hughes, William Bath Spa University UK
Inouye, Charles Tufts University USA
Jones, Tim Victoria University fo Wellington New Zealand
Joshi, S T

Kahan, Jeffrey
USA
Killeen, Jarlath Trinity College Dublin ROI
Krzywinska, Tanya Brunel University UK
Leffler, Yvonne University of Gothenburg Sweden
Lippert, Conny University of Bristol UK
Lloyd, Rebecca Falmouth University UK
Lootens, Tricia University of Georgia USA
Luckhurst, Roger Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Mandal, Anthony Cardiff University UK
Mason, Diane
UK
Masschelein, Anneleen Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Belgium
McClure, Nancy
USA
McDowell, Stacey University of Bristol UK
McEvoy, Emma University of Westminster UK
McWilliams, Ellen Bath Spa University UK
Menegaldo, Gilles University of Poitiers France
Meyers, Helene Southwestern University USA
Michasiw, Kim York University Canada
Milbank, Alison Nottingham University UK
Miles, Robert University of Victoria Canada
Miller, Meredith Falmouth University UK
Monk, Nicholas University of Warwick UK
Mousoutzanis, Aris
UK
Mulvey, Roberts University of the West of England UK
Munford, Becky Cardiff University UK
Murname, Barry Martin-Luther  University UK
Ni Chonaill, Siobhan University of Cambridge UK
Nordius, Janina University of Gothenburg Sweden
O'Gorman, Farrell De Paul University USA
O'Keefe, Ciaran

Owen, Tomos Cardiff University UK
Packham, Jimmy University of Bristol UK
Palmer, Paulina
UK
Parrinder, Patrick University of Reading UK
Parrino, Maria Bristol University UK
Peach, Linden Edge Hill University UK
Pittard, Christopher Newcastle University UK
Pittock, Murray University of Glasgow UK
Potter, Franz National University USA
Powell, Anna Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Punter, David University of Bristol UK
Purinton, Marjean Texas Tech University USA
Purves, Maria Lucy Cavendish College UK
Raghunath, Anita Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Netherlands
Redford, Catherine University of Bristol UK
Ringel, Faye U.S. Coast Guard Academy USA
Roberts, Marie Mulvey University of the West of England UK
Round, Julia Bournemouth University UK
Royle, Nicholas
UK
Ruddell, Caroline St Mary's University College UK
Sage, Vic University of East Anglia UK
Sausman, Justin Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Scahill, Andrew University of Texas at Austin USA
Scullion, Val
UK
Smith, Andrew University of Glamorgan UK
Smith, Andy W. University of Wales, Newport UK
Spooner, Catherine Lancaster University UK
Stelle, Ginger University of St Andrews UK
Stephanou, Aspasia University of Stirling UK
Stoddard Holmes, Martha California State University USA
Sugars, Cynthia University of Ottawa Canada
Talairach-Vielmas, Laurence Universite de Toulouse II France
Thomas, Ardel City College of San Francisco USA
Thompson, Douglass H. Georgia Southern University USA
Townshend, Dale University of Stirling UK
Voller, Jack Southern Illinois University USA
Wallace, Diana University of Glamorgan UK
Warwick, Alex University of Westminster UK
Watson, Rory University of Sterling UK
Weinstock, Jeffrey Central Michigan University USA
Whatley, John Simon Fraser University Canada
Wheatley, Helen University of Warwick UK
Williams, Anne
USA
Willis, Martin University of Glamorgan UK
Wisker, Gina University of Brighton UK
Witchard, Anne University of WestminsterUK UK
Wolfreys, Julian Loughborough University UK
Worrall, David Nottingham Trent University UK
Wright, Angela University of Sheffield UK
Wright, Elizabeth Bath Spa University UK
Wright, Angela University of Sheffield UK
Zapp, Andrea Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Zlosnik, Sue Manchester Metropolitan UK
 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Association, causation and the purely random: ideology and astrology in the classroom



Since the replacement of the octagonal mahogany dining tables with pine benches you can never be quite sure who you'll end up sitting down beside during the lunch break in the Senior Common Room.

Yesterday, Dr Ptolemy Macrobius, Reader in Paranormal Psychology, was expounding some of the key advances that had taken place in reaction to the limitations exposed in Theodor Adorno's dialectical materialist debunking of the topic in The Stars Down to Earth and other Essays (1952-3 / 1994).

Yet this work deserves a little respect! I responded:

“It pretends to a higher level of scientificness than the supposedly more primitive forms of esoteric wisdom without, however, entering into the argument itself: the lack of a transparent interconnection between astronomical observations and inferences pertaining to the fate of individuals or nations… Astrology attempts to get away from crude and unpopular fatalism by establishing outward forces operating on the individual’s decision, including the individual’s own character, but leaves the ultimate choice to him… Astrology undertakes the constant encouragement of people to take decisions, no matter how inconsequential they may be. It is practically directed towards action in spite of all the lofty talk about cosmic secrets and profound meditation. Thus, the very gesture of astrology, its basic presumption that everyone has to make up his mind at every moment falls in line with what will later come out with respect to the specific content of astrological counseling: its leaning towards extroversion.”

--- I said --- reading from the Amazon site on my iphone, 'Still relevant?'

In fact, looking at this topic from another angle, I've always considered the curious micro-narratives of astrology as an artful shorthand that repay close critical scrutiny, especially during those yawning intervals in cultural studies seminars, when the grand narrative theories have come crashing down, and one needs to begin the creative task of rebuilding - scaffolding - from more experiential and pragmatic foundations.

And the role of the aleatory in creative foreplay has long been accepted in postmodernist circles, has it not?

Although there's not much on astrology and pedagogy in the research literature, I was curious to discover that the scientists are still conducting their own research in this field:

 Treating astrology’s claims with all due gravity.
Steven K. Lower

“I teach an introductory science class at my university, which typically enrols many non-science majors. During a lecture on the gravitational force, I imply that if planets such as Mars exert a force on any object, including humans, then perhaps there is something to astrology’s idea that celestial bodies exert a force of influence on our lives. I encourage my students to undertake a test I have designed for this notion.
I present the students with 12 randomly numbered horoscopes from the previous day, with the corresponding signs of the zodiac removed. I ask each student to record the horoscope that best describes the day she or he had, and the astrological sign (for example, Aries) corresponding to her/his birthday. My scientific hypothesis is that planets may exert a force on our bodies, but it is purely random — 1 out of 12 (8.3%) — whether a horoscope foretells the events of one’s life.
I am pleased to report that, as Shawn Carlson has noted, “astrology failed to perform at a level better than chance” (Nature 318, 419–425; 1985). The results from my classes are: 8.0% (n = 163 students), 8.4% (n = 155), 7.0% (n = 143), 8.0% (n = 138) and 8.0% (n = 100). In other words, as John Maddox has commented “astrology is a pack of lies … There is no evidence that the positions of the planets can affect human behaviour” (Nature 368, 185; 1994)./”

Nature 447, 528 (31 May 2007).

Further information, prior to reaching a tentative conclusion and provisional predictions

"... Multivariate analyses of results based on a random sample of individuals support the medical
encounter and postmodern hypotheses and show that the set of postmodern values, in
comparison to dissatisfaction with the medical encounter, is by far a better predictor of attitudes ..."
See: Siahpush, Mohammad. "Postmodern values, dissatisfaction with conventional medicine and popularity of alternative therapies." Journal of Sociology 34.1 (1998): 58-70. 
'This condition implies a new form of cybernetic control, governed by the aleatory play of the code.'
 See : Clarke, David B. "Consumption and the city, modern and postmodern." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21.2 (1997): 218-237.
'He embraced multiple serialism, aleatory technique and electronics, but he is best known for his pioneering explorations in music theatre, radio play, film and mixed media.' See:
Heile, Bjorn. The Music of Mauricio Kagel. Ashgate, 2006.

Conclusion?

I confidently predict that we have not yet witnessed the terminus of astrological pedagogies and aleatory methodologies, nor the sublime of big data, nor the sinister predictability of the commercial algorithm that perpetually haunts each keystroke of social media participation.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Pastoral: Random Notes and Quotes




William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour July 13, 1798. Extract.

Once again I see          
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines                 
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,           
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke 
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!         
With some uncertain notice, as might seem       
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,              
Or of some Hermit’s cave, where by his fire     
The Hermit sits alone.  
        These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me   
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:          
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ’mid the din          
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them         
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,           
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;          
And passing even into my purer mind,           
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too 
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,       
As have no slight or trivial influence      
On that best portion of a good man’s life,         
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts                    
Of kindness and of love.



" Hail gentle Shenstone ! Prince of Nambypamby !
Blest be thy lark, thy linnet, and thy lamby!" - POLWHEL.
THE sort of fairy ground, over which Pastoral Poetry leads its readers, has procured this species of composition numberless admirers; and it has enjoyed the additional eclat of employing the classic pens of Theocritus, Virgil, Pope, Gesner, and Guarini, besides various of the inspired bards of the Old Testament. Yet its eternal monotony renders it disgusting to persons of judgment and correct taste. However well executed, it is only fit to be admired by children. (‘On Pastoral Poetry’, The Monthly Magazine, vol., 27, 1809)

Who can with patience bear the unmeaning and endless repetition of faithless nymphs; dying swains; sighing breezes; purling rills; murmuring fountains; cooling grots; listening echoes; enamelled meads; tender lambkins; cooing doves; tuneful reeds; curling vines; perjured shepherds; and the sickening train of Corydons and Daphnes—Strephons and Cloes—Damons and Phillises? There may be occasionally a prettiness, which a man of understanding will be pleased with, as we would with a pretty child; or, to come nearer to the point, a pretty inanimate doll of a woman. It has, however, a fascination for young minds. (‘On Pastoral Poetry’, The Monthly Magazine, vol., 27, 1809)

So absurd is the common fiction in the sentiments and situation of the characters, that Gay’s Shepherds Week, where the nymphs and the swains are mere men and women, employed in common occupations of rustic life, and which was written purposely to exhibit pastorals in a ludicrous view, is, from its adherence to nature more admired by the judicious, than the fine lady and gentlemen shepherds of the great competitors Alexander Pope, and Ambrose Philips. (‘On Pastoral Poetry’, The Monthly Magazine, vol., 27, 1809)

In making these observations, I am far from condemning all pastoral poetry: Shakespeare’s As you like it, his Winter’s Tale, and other of his comedies, likewise Ramsay’s Gentle Shepherd, cannot fail to give the most exquisite pleasure to every person of taste. In these we have natural pictures of country life, interwoven with interesting story, instead of the insipid sing-song, and milk-and-water versification, by which we are surfeited even in the first pastoral writers. (‘On Pastoral Poetry’, The Monthly Magazine, vol., 27, 1809)


PASTORAL POETRY is that kind of poetry which professes to delineate the scenery, sentiment, and incidents of shepherd-life. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

Men were originally shepherds, and their festal songs and hymns would derive at least substance and imagery from their primitive occupations; but as a distinct branch of poetic art, pastoral poetry was not cultivated till a comparatively late period; for although critics are fond of pointing to the lives of the Hebrew patriarchs, and to the story of Ruth, as specimens of the antiquity of the pastoral in the East, yet, as these profess to be history, and not fiction, they can be instanced only to prove that the material for this kind of poetry existed from the earliest ages. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

In point of fact, it was only after innocence and simplicity had passed away, or were thought to have passed away, from real life, that men began, half from fancy, and half from memory, to paint the manners of the past as artless, and the lives of their ancestors as constantly happy. It was thus the Brass Age that made the Golden. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

Among the Latins, the refined and courtly Virgil, in the reign of Augustus, wrote his Bucolica or Eclogues, on the model of his Greek predecessors; but, however beautiful and melodious the verses of these urban writers are, we cannot suppose for a moment that the rude shepherds and shepherdesses of Italy or Sicily indulged in such refined sentiments, or spent their time so poetically as there they are made to do. Virgil, we may rest assured, is as far from giving a genuine picture of pastoral life in his verse, as any modern poet who prates of Chloe and Phyllis. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

During the middle ages, pastoral poetry in this artistic, and therefore conventional sense of the term, was almost unknown; but with the first glimpse of reviving classicism, the pastoral reappears. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

 The earliest specimens are afforded by Boccaccio (q. v.), about the first modern Italian who studied Greek. It is to the countrymen of Boccaccio that we owe the creation of the pastoral drama, of which there is no trace in ancient literature. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

England, however, can boast of Spenser’s Shepherd’s Calendar, which is at least full of charming poetry, and is appropriately dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney, whose pastoral romance of Arcadia outstrips in point of literary beauty all other lictions of that class. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

The Germans reckon Shakspeare’s As You Like It in the list of pastoral dramas; but its right to be so classified is by no means clear, although we may admit that it betrays the influence of the pastoral poetry and romance that had just ceased to be the rage among the scholarly geniuses of Europe. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

During the civil wars in the latter half of the 16th c, the pastoral was turned to political uses. In the following century, it continued for some time to be popular, or rather, let us say, fashionable. Even the great Richelieu alleviated the cares of office with the composition of La Grande Pastorale; but here, too, the poem soon gave way to the prose romance, which was hardly less unreal, and far more exciting. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

Perhaps the best pastoral, ancient or modern, is the Gentle Shepherd of Allan Ramsay, published in 1725. ‘It is,’ says Mr Carruthers  ‘a genuine picture of Scottish life, but of life pa sed in simple rural employments, apart from the guilt and fever of large towns, and reflecting only the pure and unsophisticated emotions of our nature. The affected sensibilities and feigned distresses of the Corydons and Delias find no place in Ramsay’s clear and manly page. He drew his shepherds from the life, placed them in scenes which he actually saw, and made them speak the language which he every day heard—the free idiomatic speech of his native vales.’ (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

[Ramsay’s] English contemporaries, Pope, Ambrose Philips, Gay, and others, who form the ‘Augustan,’ or Queen Anne school of poets, also addicted themselves to the composition of pastoral poetry; but though there is much fine description in the verses, they are, in general, purely conventional performances, in imitation of the classic poets, who, as we have said, did not themselves imitate nature. From this censure, however, must be excepted the six pastorals of Gay, entitled the Shepherd’s Week, which are full of honest country humour, and contain charming pictures of English country life. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

Since the early part of the 18th c, however, pastoral poetry, strictly so called, has ceased to be cultivated in England and almost everywhere else. In the pages of Wordsworth, who lived all his days among the Cumberland shepherds, we indeed find many exquisite glimpses of pastoral life, as it presented itself to the profound and tender imagination of that great poet of nature, but few direct delineations of pastoral manners. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)

The general impression appears to lie that the age of pastoral poetry has passed away forever, and that Damon and Chloe will never reappear in verse. (Chamber’s Encyclopedia, vol., 7, 1872)



Alexander Pope, A Discourse on Pastoral Poetry (1717)

The original of Poetry is ascribed to that Age which succeeded the creation of the world: and as the keeping of flocks seems to have been the sirst employment of mankind, the most ancient fort of poetry was probably pastoral. It is natural to imagine, that the leisure of those ancient shepherds admitting and inviting some diversion, none was so proper to that solitary and sedentary life as singing; and that in their songs they took occasion to celebrate their own felicity. From hence a Poem was invented, and afterwards improved to a perfect image of that happy time; which, by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age, might recommend them to the present. And since the life of shepherds was attended with more tranquillity than any other rural employment, the Poets chose to introduce their Persons, from whom it received the name of Pastoral.

A Pastoral is an imitation of the action of a shepherd, or one considered under that Character. The form of this imitation is dramatic, or narrative, or mixed of bothc; the fable simple, the manners not too polite nor too rustic: the thoughts are plain, yet admit a little quickness and passion, but that short and flowing: the expression humble, yet as pure as the language will afford; neat, but not florid; easy, and yet lively. In short, the fable, manners, thoughts, and expressions are full of the greatest simplicity in nature.

The complete character of this poem consists in simplicity, brevity, and delicacy; the two first of which render an eclogue natural, and the last delightful.

If we would copy Nature, it may be useful to take this Idea along with us, that Pastoral is an image of what they call the golden age. So that we are not to describe our shepherds as shepherds at this day really are, but as they may be conceived then to have been; when the best of men followed the employment.

And an air of piety to the Gods should shine through the poem, which so visibly appears in all the works of antiquity: and it ought to preserve some relish of the old way of writing; the connection should be loose, the narrations and descriptions short  and the periods concise.

But with a respect to the present age, nothing more conduces to make these composures natural, than when some Knowledge in rural assairs is discoveredr. This may be made to appear rather done by chance than on design, and sometimes is best shewn by inference; lest by too much study to seem natural, we destroy that easy simplicity from whence arises the delight. For what is inviting in this fort of poetry proceeds not so much from the Idea of that business, as of the tranquillity of a country life.

For the Doric had its beauty and propriety in the time of Theocritus; it was used in part of Greece, and frequent in the mouths of many of the greatest persons: whereas the old English and country phrases of Spenser were either entirely obsolete, or spoken only by people of the lowest condition. As there is a disserence betwixt simplicity and rusticity, so the expression of simple thoughts should be plain, but not clownish. The addition he has made of a Calendar to his Eclogues, is very beautiful; since by this, besides the general moral of innocence and simplicity, which is common to other authors of Pastoral, he has one peculiar to himself; he compares human Life to the several Seasons, and at once exposes to his readers a view of the great and little worlds, in their various changes and aspects.



In defence of Milton’s Lycidas

The superiority of Milton’s Lycidas to all pastoral poems in our language is, I should hope, acknowledged by every man of true classical judgment; and Dr. Johnson’s strange animadversions on it have been thus essectually answered. "Lycidas, (says he,) is filled with the heathen deities; and a long train of mythological imagery, such as a College easily supplies.—But it is also such as even the Court itself could now have easily supplied. The public diversions, and books of all sorts, and from all sorts of writers, more especially compositions in poetry, were at this time over-run with classical pedantries. But what writer, of the fame period, has made these obsolete sictions the vehicle of so much fancy and poetical description? How beautifully has he applied this sort of allusion to the Druidical rocks of Denbighshire, to Mona, and the fabulous banks of Deva! It is objected, that its pastoral form is disgusting. But this was the age of pastoral; and yet Lycidas has but little of the bucolic cant, now so fashionable. The satyrs and fauns are but just mentioned. If any trite rural topics occur, how are they heightened!

"Together both, ere the high lawns appear’d
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove afield, and both together heard

What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batt’ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night.

"Here the day-break is described by the faint appearance of the upland lawns under the first gleams of light: the sun-set, by the buzzing of the chaffer: and the night sheds her fresh dews on their flocks. We cannot blame pastoral imagery and pastoral allegory, which carry with them so much natural painting. In this piece there is perhaps more poetry than sorrow. But let us read it for its poetry. It is true, that passion plucks no berries from the myrtle and ivy, no calls upon Arethuse and Mincius, nor tells of rough satyrs with cloven heel. But poetry does this; and in the hands of Milton, does it with a peculiar and irresistible charm. Subordinate poets exercise no invention, when they tell how a shepherd has lost his companion, and must feed his flocks alone without any judge of his skill in piping: but Milton dignifies and adorns these common artificial incidents with unexpected touches of picturesque beauty, with the graces of sentiment, and with the novelties of original genius. It is said, "here is no art, for there is nothing new." But this objection will vanish, if we consider the imagery which Milton has raised from local circumstances. Not to repeat the use he has made of the mountains of Wales, the Ifle of Man, and the river Dee, near which Lycidas was ship-wrecked; let us recollect the introduction of the romantic superstition of Saint Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, which overlooks the Irish seas, the fatal scene of his friend’s disaster.

"But the poetry is not always unconnected with passion. The poet lavishly describes an ancient sepulchral rite, but it is made preparatory to a stroke of tenderness. He calls for a variety of flowers to decorate his friend’s hearse, supposing that his body was present, and forgetting for a while he was drowned; it was some consolation that he was to receive the decencies of burial. This is a pleasing deception: it is natural and pathetic. But the real catastrophe recurs. And this circumstance again opens a new vein of imagination."
See :  Poems of Milton, second edition, Robinson, 1791, p. 35.

Pope had not an eye for rural beauty, and for those natural picturesque accompaniments which are essential to the Pastoral Drama. I do not mean, that he had not a taste of rural embellishment—that is a different thing. There are ten thousand appearances in the lights snd shades of Nature, which it requires an habitual converse with rural scenery to delineate accurately; and without these, the Pastoral Drama would lose its distinguisliing and most beautiful features. I should class under this genus of Poetry, though not strictly pastoral, the Philoctetes of Sophocles ; and how interesting are the different views which the landscape presents, as accompanying the dramatic part? From the beginning, where the dwelling of the miserable exile among the rocks is set before us, to the last scene, where he bids adieu to his solitary cave, the nymphs, or fairy beings, of the vallies,— all is in the most exquisite vein of the rural and romantic Drama. But, perhaps, our own Shakespear, in his As you like it, has exhibited the most interesting specimen of the Drama connected with Pastoral Scenery.  The works of Alexander Pope. Editor’s Note. vol. 7, 1806.

Alexander Pope’s Letter to Mr. Walsh. Windsor Forest, July 2, 1706.
[...] You have no less right to correct me, than the same hand that raised a tree has to prune it. I am convinced, as well as you, that one may correct too much; for in poetry as in painting, a man may lay colours one upon another till they stiffen and deaden the piece. Besides, to bestow heightening on every part is monstrous: Some parts ought to be lower than the rest; and nothing looks more ridiculous than a work, where the thoughts, however different in their own nature, seem all on a level: ‘Tis like a meadow newly mown, where weeds, grass, and flowers, are all laid even, and appear undistinguished. I believe too that sometimes our first thoughts are the best, as the first squeezing of the grapes makes the finest and richest wine. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.

I have not attempted any thing of a pastoral comedy, because I think the taste of our age will not relish a poem of that sort. People seek for what they call wit, on all subjects, and in all places; not considering that nature loves truth so well, that it hardly ever admits of flourishing: Conceit is to nature what paint is to beauty; it is not only needless, but impairs what it would improve. There is a certain majesty in simplicity, which is far above all the quaintness of wit; insomuch that the critics have excluded wit from the loftiest poetry, as well as the lowest, and forbid it to the Epic no less than the Pastoral. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


If surprising discoveries should have place in the story of a pastoral comedy, I believe it would be more agreeable to probability to make them the effects of chance than of design; intrigue not being very consistent with that innocence, which ought to constitute a shepherd’s character. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


I am inclined to think the pastoral comedy has another disadvantage as to the manners: - Its general design is to make us in love with the innocence of rural life, so that to introduce shepherds of a vicious character must in some measure debase it: And hence it may come to pass, that even the virtuous characters will not shine so much, for want of being opposed to their contraries. These thoughts are purely my own, and therefore 1 have reason to doubt them: but I hope your judgment will set me right. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


I would beg your opinion too as to another point: it is, how far the liberty of borrowing may extend? I have defended it sometimes by saying, that it seems not so much the perfection of fensed, to say things that had never been said before, as to express those best that have been said oftenest; and that writers, in the case of borrowing from others, are like trees, which of themselves would produce only one sort of fruit, but by being grafted upon others may yield variety. A mutual commerce makes poetry flourish; but then poets, like merchants, should repay with something of their own what they take from others; not, like pirates, make prize of all they meet. I desire you to tell me sincerely, if I have not stretched this licence too far in these pastorals? I hope to become a critic by your precepts, and a poet by your example. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


LETTER FROM MR. WALSH to Alexander Pope, July 20, 1706.
I think you are perfectly in the right in your notions of Pastoral; but I am of opinion, that the redundancy of Wit you mention, though it is what pleases the common people, is not what ever pleases the best judges. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


As for what you ask of the liberty of borrowing; it is very evident the best Latin Poets have extended this very far; and none so far as Virgil, who was the best of them. As for the Greek Poets, if we cannot trace them so plainly, it is perhaps because we have none before them; it is evident that most of them borrowed from Homer, and Homer has been accused of burning those that wrote before him, that his thefts might not be discovered. The best of the modern Poets in all languages are those that have the nearest copied the Ancients. Indeed, in all the common subjects of Poetry, the thoughts are so obvious (at least if they are natural), that whoever ever writes last, must write things like what have been said before. But they may as well applaud the Ancients for the arts of eating and drinking, and accuse the Moderns of having stolen those inventions, from them; it being evident in all such cases, that whoever lived first, must, first find them out. It is true, indeed, when when there are one or two bright thoughts stolen, and all the rest is quite different from it, a poem makes a very foolish figure: But when it is all melted down together, and the gold of the Ancients so mixed with that of the Moderns, that none can distinguish the one from - the other, I can never find fault with it. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


Letter from Mr. Walsh to Alexander Pope. Sept. 9, 1706
[...] Having been absent about six weeks, I read over your Pastorals again, with a great deal of pleasure, and to judge the better, read Virgil’s Eclogues, and Spenser’s Calendar, at the fame time; and, I assure you, I continue the fame opinion I had always of them. By the little hints you take upon all occasions to improve them, it is probable you will make them yet better against winter; though there is a mean to be kept even in that too, and a man may correct his verses till he takes away the true spirit of them; especially if he submits to the correction of some who pass for great Critics, by mechanical rules, and never enter into the true design and Genius of an author. I have seen some of these that would hardly allow any one good Ode in Horace, who cry Virgil wants fancy, and that Homer, is very incorrect. While they talk at this rate, one would think them above the common rate of mortals: But generally they are great admirers of Ovid and Lucan; and when they write themselves, we find out all the mystery. The works of Alexander Pope, vol. 7, 1806.


Robert Burns (1759–1796). 
‘Poem on Pastoral Poetry’


HAIL, Poesie! thou Nymph reserv’d!  
In chase o’ thee, what crowds hae swerv’d      
Frae common sense, or sunk enerv’d   
                ’Mang heaps o’ clavers:       
And och! o’er aft thy joes hae starv’d,
                ’Mid a’ thy favours! 

Say, Lassie, why, thy train amang,        
While loud the trump’s heroic clang,     
And sock or buskin skelp alang
                To death or marriage;
 Scarce ane has tried the shepherd-sang           
                But wi’ miscarriage?

In Homer’s craft Jock Milton thrives;   
Eschylus’ pen Will Shakespeare drives;
Wee Pope, the knurlin’, till him rives
                Horatian fame;         
In thy sweet sang, Barbauld, survives   
                Even Sappho’s flame.          

But thee, Theocritus, wha matches?      
They’re no herd’s ballats, Maro’s catches;
 Squire Pope but busks his skinklin’ patches     
                O’ heathen tatters:   
I pass by hunders, nameless wretches,  
                That ape their betters.          

In this braw age o’ wit and lear,
Will nane the Shepherd’s whistle mair   
Blaw sweetly in its native air,    
                And rural grace;       
And, wi’ the far-fam’d Grecian, share  
                A rival place?          

Yes! there is ane; a Scottish callan!      
There’s ane; come forrit, honest Allan! 
Thou need na jouk behint the hallan,     
                A chiel sae clever;    
The teeth o’ time may gnaw Tantallan,  
                But thou’s for ever.  

Thou paints auld Nature to the nines,    
In thy sweet Caledonian lines;  
Nae gowden stream thro’ myrtle twines,           
                Where Philomel,             
While nightly breezes sweep the vines,  
                Her griefs will tell!    

In gowany glens thy burnie strays,        
Where bonie lasses bleach their claes,  
Or trots by hazelly shaws and braes,         
                Wi’ hawthorns gray,
Where blackbirds join the shepherd’s lays,       
                At close o’ day.       

Thy rural loves are Nature’s sel’;          
Nae bombast spates o’ nonsense swell;
Nae snap conceits, but that sweet spell 
                O’ witchin love,       
That charm that can the strongest quell,
                The sternest move.


J.W. von Goethe (1749–1832).
Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.
Book I, Chapter XV
 
HAPPY season of youth! Happy times of the first wish of love! A man is then like a child, that can for hours delight itself with an echo, can support alone the charges of conversation, and be well contented with its entertainment, if the unseen interlocutor will but repeat the concluding syllables of the words addressed to it.    1
  So was it with Wilhelm in the earlier and still more in the later period of his passion for Mariana: he transferred the whole wealth of his own emotions to her, and looked upon himself as a beggar that lived upon her alms; and as a landscape is more delightful, nay is delightful only, when it is enlightened by the sun, so likewise in his eyes were all things beautified and glorified which lay round her or related to her.      2
  Often would he stand in the theatre behind the scenes, to which he had obtained the freedom of access from the manager. In such cases, it is true, the perspective magic was away; but the far mightier sorcery of love then first began to act. For hours he could stand by the sooty light-frame, inhaling the vapour of tallow lamps, looking out at his mistress; and when she returned and cast a kindly glance upon him, he could feel himself lost in ecstasy, and though close upon laths and bare spars, he seemed transported into paradise. The stuffed bunches of wool denominated lambs, the waterfalls of tin, the paper roses and the one-sided huts of straw, awoke in him fair poetic visions of an old pastoral world. Nay, the very dancing-girls, ugly as they were when seen at hand, did not always inspire him with disgust: they trod the same floor with Mariana. So true is it, that love, which alone can give their full charm to rose-bowers, myrtle-groves and moonshine, can also communicate, even to shavings of wood and paper-clippings, the aspect of animated nature. It is so strong a spice, that tasteless, or even nauseous soups are by it rendered palatable.        3
  So potent a spice was certainly required to render tolerable, nay at last agreeable, the state in which he usually found her chamber, not to say herself.


Extract from ‘Yarrow Visited’ (1814), by William Wordsworth (1770–1850)


Delicious is the Lay that sings   
The haunts of happy lovers,      
The path that leads them to the grove,           35
The leafy grove that covers:      
And pity sanctifies the verse     
That paints, by strength of sorrow,       
The unconquerable strength of love;     
Bear witness, rueful Yarrow!             40

But thou that didst appear so fair          
To fond imagination     
Dost rival in the light of day      
Her delicate creation:   
Meek loveliness is round thee spread,           45
A softness still and holy:           
The grace of forest charms decay’d,     
And pastoral melancholy.


  Sidney’s literary work was all published after his death, some of it against his express desire. The “Arcadia,” an elaborate pastoral romance written in a highly ornate prose mingled with verse, was composed for the entertainment of his sister, the Countess of Pembroke. The collection of sonnets, “Astrophel and Stella,” was called forth by Sidney’s relation to Penelope Devereux, daughter of the Earl of Essex. While they were both little more than children, there had been some talk of a marriage between them; but evidence of any warmth of feeling appears chiefly after Penelope’s unhappy marriage to Lord Rich. There has been much controversy over the question of the sincerity of these remarkable poems, and over the precise nature of Sidney’s sentiments toward the lady who inspired them, some regarding them as undisguised outpourings of a genuine passion, others as mere conventional literary exercises. The more recent opinion is that they express a platonic devotion such as was common in the courtly society of the day, and which was allowed by contemporary opinion to be compatible with the marriage of both parties.    


‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’

John Keats (1795–1821)


THOU still unravish’d bride of quietness,          
  Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,    
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express           
  A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:   
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape                    5
  Of deities or mortals, or of both         
    In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?    
  What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?      
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?    
    What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?                    10

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard   
  Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,      
  Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:      
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave                  15
  Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;    
    Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,     
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;        
    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,         
  For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!                   20

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed      
  Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;     
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,         
  For ever piping songs for ever new;    
More happy love! more happy, happy love!              25
  For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
    For ever panting and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above, 
  That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
    A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.           30

Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
  To what green altar, O mysterious priest,        
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,       
  And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?  
What little town by river or sea-shore,           35
  Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,          
    Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?          
And, little town, thy streets for evermore          
  Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell     
    Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.                  40

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede 
  Of marble men and maidens overwrought,      
With forest branches and the trodden weed;     
  Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!                    45
  When old age shall this generation waste,       
    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe       
  Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,        
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all           
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’         50


‘Kinds of Poetry’
  Narrative thus stories forth the doings of others; the lyric rises out of oneself. And here again the scope is limitless. A lyric may phrase emotion in its purest essence: it is then the absolute lyric or song. The emotion, gathering about a simple little scene in nature, may utter itself briefly and beautifully in an idyl; conceived on a more extensive scale, a poem of rustic life, actual or feigned, becomes a pastoral. The passion of grief finds voice in the elegy.A lyric may mirror the large aspects of nature as colored by the poet’s feeling, and so it passes over into descriptive poetry. Sensuous elements may be subordinated to thought or to sympathy; and the poem so inspired expresses reflection and sentiment. Exaltation of thought and mood, moving through sustained and complex metrical form, finds a fitting medium in the ode.

Carleton Noyes, ‘The English Anthology’, The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.



Extract: David Copperfield. By Charles Dickens. (1812–1870). 
Chapter XXXIX. Wickfield and Heep  

Coming into Canterbury, I loitered through the old streets with a sober pleasure that calmed my spirits, and eased my heart. There were the old signs, the old names over the shops, the old people serving in them. It appeared so long, since I had been a schoolboy there, that I wondered the place was so little changed, until I reflected how little I was changed myself. Strange to say, that quiet influence which was inseparable in my mind from Agnes, seemed to pervade even the city where she dwelt. The venerable Cathedral towers, and the old jackdaws and rooks whose airy voices made them more retired than perfect silence would have done; the battered gateways, once stuck full with statues, long thrown down, and crumbled away, like the reverential pilgrims who had gazed upon them; the still nooks, where the ivied growth of centuries crept over gabled ends and ruined walls; the ancient houses, the pastoral landscape of field, orchard, and garden; everywhere—on everything—I felt the same serener air, the same calm, thoughtful, softening spirit.


Don Quixote . By Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616).
The Fourth Book. Chapter XXIV.
Relating That Which the Goatherd Told to Those That Carried Away Don Quixote

To be brief, Anselmo and myself resolved to abandon the village and come to this valley, where, he feeding a great flock of sheep of his own, and I as copious a herd of goats of mine, we pass our lives among these trees, giving vent to our passions, either by singing together the beautiful Leandra’s praises or dispraises, or by sighing alone, and alone communicating our quarrelsome complaints with Heaven. Many others of Leandra’s suitors have since, by our example, come to these intricate woods, where they use our very exercise; and they are so many as it seems that this place is converted into the pastoral Arcadia; it is full of shepherds and sheepfolds, and there is no one part thereof wherein the name of the beautiful Leandra resoundeth not. There one doth curse her, and termeth her humours inconstant and dishonest; another condemns her of being so facile and light; some one absolves and pardons her; another condemns and despises her, and celebrates her beauty; another execrates her disposition; and finally, all blame, but yet adore her; and the raving distraction of them all doth so far extend itself, as some one complains of disdain that never spoke word unto her, and some one laments and feels the enraged fits of jealousy though she never ministered any occasion thereof; for, as I have said, her sin was known before her desires. There is no cleft of a rock, no bank of a stream, nor shadow of a tree, without some shepherd or other, that breathes out his misfortunes to the silent air. The echo repeats Leandra’s name wheresoever it can be formed; the woods resound Leandra; the brooks do murmur Leandra; and Leandra holds us all perplexed and enchanted, hoping without hope, and fearing without knowledge what we fear.            3
  ‘And among all this flock of frantic men, none shows more or less judgment than my companion, Anselmo, who, having so many other titles under which he might plain him, only complains of absence, and doth to the sound of a rebec (which he handles admirably well) sing certain doleful verses, which fully discover the excellency of his conceit. I follow a more easy and, in mine opinion, a more certain way—to wit, I rail on the lightness of women, on their inconstancy, double-dealing, dead promises, cracked trust, and the small discretion they show in placing of their affections; and this, sir, was the occasion of the words and reasons I lately used to this goat, whom I do esteem but little because she is a female, although she be otherwise the best of all my herd. And this is the history which I promised to tell you, wherein, if I have been prolix, I will be altogether as large in doing you any service; for I have here at hand my cabin, and therein store of fresh milk and savoury cheese, with many sorts of excellent fruit, no less agreeable to the sight than pleasing to the taste.’


John Milton. (1608–1674).  Comus, a Mask
The TWO BROTHERS.

  Eld. Bro. Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair Moon,           
That wont’st to love the travailler’s benison,     
Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,          335
And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here   
In double night of darkness and of shades;        
Or, if your influence be quite dammed up          
With black usurping mists, some gentle taper,   
Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole                340
Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long levelled rule of streaming light,     
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,   
Or Tyrian Cynosure.    
  Sec. Bro. Or, if our eyes                 345
Be barred that happiness, might we but hear     
The folded flocks, penned in their wattled cotes,           
Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops,      
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock         
Count the night-watches to his feathery dames,          350
’Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering,         
In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.     
But, Oh, that hapless virgin, our lost sister!       
Where may she wander now, whither betake her          
From the chill dew, amongst rude burs and thistles?               355
Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,     
Or ’gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm  
Leans her unpillowed head, fraught with sad fears.        
What if in wild amazement and affright, 
Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp               360
Of savage hunger, or of savage heat!



Samuel Johnson,  Preface to Shakespeare,  (1765)

  He [Shakespeare] had no regard to distinction of time or place, but gives to one age or nation, without scruple, the customs, institutions, and opinions of another, at the expence not only of likelihood, but of possibility. These faults Pope has endeavoured, with more zeal than judgment, to transfer to his imagined interpolators. We need not wonder to find Hector quoting Aristotle, when we see the loves of Theseus and Hippolyta combined with the Gothick mythology of fairies. Shakespeare, indeed, was not the only violator of chronology, for in the same age Sidney, who wanted not the advantages of learning, has, in his Arcadia, confounded the pastoral with the feudal times, the days of innocence, quiet and security, with those of turbulence, violence, and adventure.       36
  In his comick scenes he is seldom very successful, when he engages his characters in reciprocations of smartness and contests of sarcasm; their jests are commonly gross, and their pleasantry licentious; neither his gentlemen nor his ladies have much delicacy, nor are sufficiently distinguished from his clowns by any appearance of refined manners. Whether he represented the real conversation of his time is not easy to determine; the reign of Elizabeth is commonly supposed to have been a time of stateliness, formality and reserve; yet perhaps the relaxations of that severity were not very elegant. There must, however, have been always some modes of gayety preferable to others, and a writer ought to chuse the best.




William Wordsworth (1815)
Essay Supplementary to Preface

The arts by which Pope, soon afterwards, contrived to procure to himself a more general and a higher reputation than perhaps any English Poet ever attained during his lifetime, are known to the judicious. and as well known is it to them, that the undue exertion of those arts is the cause why Pope has for some time held a rank in literature, to which, if he had not been seduced by an over-love of immediate popularity, and had confided more in his native genius, he never could have descended. He bewitched the nation by his melody, and dazzled it by his polished style and was himself blinded by his own success. Having wandered from humanity in his Eclogues with boyish inexperience, the praise, which these compositions obtained, tempted him into a belief that Nature was not to be trusted, at least in pastoral Poetry. to prove this by example, he put his friend Gay upon writing those Eclogues which their author intended to be burlesque. The instigator of the work, and his admirers, could perceive in them nothing but what was ridiculous. Nevertheless, though these Poems contain some detestable passages, the effect, as Dr. Johnson well observes, ‘of reality and truth became conspicuous even when the intention was to show them grovelling and degraded.’ The Pastorals, ludicrous to such as prided themselves upon their refinement, in spite of those disgusting passages, ‘became popular, and were read with delight, as just representations of rural manners and occupations.’