Nation and History

William C. Watterson

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Nation and History

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This article provides a discussion on the emergence of the English pastoral elegy. It reviews the importance of the socio-economic circumstances that inform the pastoral elegy. Renaissance pastoral derived from Theocritus the two principal strands of pastoral elegy: the first ‘Idyll’ mourns the death of Daphnis and the eleventh ‘Idyll’ expresses the cyclops' pathetic unrequited love for Gallatea. In Jacobean pastoral elegy, the two strands often coincide, and the love depicted and/or mourned could be either heterosexual or homosexual in orientation. Although the word ‘elegy’ occurs only twice in Shakespeare's plays, in both instances referring to poems about unrequited love, Shakespeare's vision of English history was able to encompass his own variation on pastoral elegy. The characterization of Shakespeare's conflation of pastoral elegy is finally addressed.

Keywords: English pastoral elegy; Shakespeare; Renaissance pastoral; Theocritus; mourns; Daphnis; Gallatea

Article.  8323 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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