March 24, 2009
Poetry – Extra Credit
An eclogue poem is similar to a pastoral poem. An eclogue is a shortened form of a pastoral that typically involves dialogue on the topic “of rural life and the society of shepherds, depicting rural life as free from the complexity and corruption of more civilized life” (eclogue - Encyclopedia Britannica). A pastoral poem “refers to the lifestyle of shepherds and pastoralists, moving livestock around larger areas of land according to seasons and availability of water and food” and “also describes literature, art and music which depicts the life of shepherds” (wiki - pastoral). This is where the term bucolic comes in. This term is interchangeable with pastoral and means “‘cowherd’” (wiki - pastoral). An example of pastoral in the arts and music genre is Václav Tomášek’s work. His musical compositions are known to be the first pastoral (wiki - eclogue)
It was not until the Renaissance era when the eclogue was later reused by “Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Battista Spagnoli” (eclogue - Encyclopedia Britannica). All of who are Italians. The first English eclogue poem, The Shepheardes Calender, was written in 1579 by Edmund Spenser. These twelve eclogues represented each month of the year. The 17th century is marked by their use of eclogues as “less formal” (eclogue - Encyclopedia Britannica). During the 18th century eclogues were crafted “for ironic verse on nonpastoral subjects” (eclogue - Encyclopedia Britannica). Jonathan Swift did this in his book A Town Eclogue.
Two great poets who helped introduce the eclogue technique were Theocritus (310-250 BC) and Virgil (70-19 BC). Theocritus is a Greek poet who used the eclogue form in Idylls. Idylls mean ““little poems’” (Theocritus - Encyclopedia Britannica). These Idylls crafted by Theocritus do not have the appealing and “pretty” qualities that were later adopted. His original intention was not to write eclogues on “peasant life” because he was very specific of what he used in his poems (Theocritus - Encyclopedia Britannica). He is greatly known for his work in bucolics because “they introduced the pastoral setting in which shepherds wooed nymphs and shepherdesses and held singing contests with their rivals” (Theocritus - Encyclopedia Britannica). Virgil is a Roman poet who used the eclogue form in his book 10 Eclogues, also known as Bucolics.
Virgil’s impact on the use of eclogue is greatly noted in this particular field because the term “Virgilian tradition” came from him. “The ancients referred to individual poems of Virgil’s Bucolica as eclogae, and the term was used by later Latin poets to refer to their own bucolic poetry, often in imitation of Virgil. The combination of Virgil’s influence and the persistence of bucolic poetry through the Renaissance imposed ‘eclogues’ as the accepted term for the genre” (wiki - eclogue).
Eclogue comes from the Latin word ecloga. This Latin form comes from the Greek word eklogē, which means “‘draft, choice, selections (particularly of short passages)’” (wiki - eclogue).
I saw poem on newyorker.com and thought it may be a good idea to add it to give a visual example of what an eclogue is.
By Spencer Reece
In Juno Beach, on Pelican Lake,
Joseph Saul ate potato chips off a paper plate
and fed the broken bits to a duck.
He was accompanied by Laurie McGraw,
whom he met at the Alzheimer’s Support Group—
she had been a caregiver, he had a diagnosis,
and together their eyes vacantly connected.
Laurie spelled her name with a large dot
or a star atop the “i.” A born-again,
with two failed marriages so far,
she sent Joseph pamphlets in the mail
about Jews who could be saved by Christ.
On her day off, she washed her blind dog
with soap. The two discussed the pleasure
of naps. The duck strutted in uniformed plume,
greasy black-green, speckled red pate,
sated, companioned, unbundling with poop,
the duck thrust with the thrust of youth;
interior decorator of the lake, the duck
was flush with floor maps. Joseph oversaw
the duck’s scufflings as Laurie made a note
to arrange another semidetached date.
“eclogue.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 23 Mar.
“eclogue” Wikipedia. 2009. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Mar 2009.
“pastoral” Wikipedia. 2009. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Mar 2009.
Reece, Spencer. Eclogue. 2008. Condé Nast. 23 Mar. 2009.
"Theocritus" Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 24 Mar. 2009
"Virgil" Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 24 Mar. 2009