This is a companion to Pastoral poetry of the English Renaissance: An anthology (2016), the largest ever collection of its kind. The monograph-length Introduction traces the course of pastoral from antiquity to the present day. The historical account is woven into a thematic map of the richly varied pastoral mode, and it is linked to the social context, not only by local allegory and allusion but by its deeper origins and affinities. English Renaissance pastoral is set within the context of this total perspective. Besides the formal eclogue, the study covers many genres: lyric, epode, georgic, country-house poem, ballad, romantic epic, drama and prose romance. Major practitioners like Theocritus, Virgil, Sidney, Spenser, Drayton and Milton are discussed individually. The Introduction also charts the many means by which pastoral texts circulated during the Renaissance, with implications for the history and reception of all Early Modern poetry. The poems in the Anthology have been edited from the original manuscripts and early printed texts, and the Textual Notes comprehensively document the sources and variant readings. There are also notes on the poets and analytical indices of themes, genres, and various categories of proper names. Seldom, if ever, has a cross-section of English Renaissance poetry been textually annotated in such detail.
PastoralPoetry of the English Renaissance
1 Theocritus Idyll viii
Translated anonymously from the Greek
From Sixe Idillia ... chosen out of ... Theocritus (1588). This idyll is part of the core Theocritus canon,
though scholars have doubted his authorship; some have suggested that the poem amalgamates what
were originally separate pieces.
The viii. Idillion.
Menalcas a Shephearde, and Daphnis a Netehearde, two Sicilian lads, contending who
should sing best, pawne their whistles, and choose a Gotehearde, to be their Iudge. Who
giueth sentence on Daphnis
revived in the late Middle Ages by Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio (chiefly the latter
two), they insisted that allusion was intrinsic to pastoral. Through the ensuing Renaissance and beyond, ‘pretty tales of wolves and sheep’ (in Sidney’s phrase)1 were conventionally held to conceal deep hidden meanings – biographical, political, didactic,
1 Philip Sidney, A Defence of Poetry (The Apologie for Poetrie), in Miscellaneous Prose of Sir
Philip Sidney, ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones and Jan van Dorsten, Oxford: Clarendon Press,
PastoralPoetry of the