Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 509 pages of information about Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama.

The dramatic tendency was indeed inherent in the eclogue from the very first.  Throughout there is a steady growth in the use of dialogue:  of the Idyls of Theocritus only about a third contain more than one character; of Vergil’s Bucolics at least half; of Calpurnius’ all but one; of the eclogues of Petrarch and Boccaccio all without exception.  This tendency did not escape Guarini, who, when not led into puerilities by his love of self-laudation, often shows considerable insight.  ‘The eclogue,’ he says, ’is nothing but a short discussion between shepherds, differing in no other manner from that sort of scene which the Latins call dialogue, except in so far as being whole and independent, possessing within itself both beginning and end[165].’

Having thus gradually altered the literary form of the eclogue, this tendency towards dramatic expression next showed itself in the manner in which the poem was presented to the world.  For circulation in print or manuscript, or for informal reading, came to be substituted recitation in character.  The dialogue was divided between two persons who spoke alternately, and it is evident from the somewhat meagre texts that survive that, in the earliest examples, these ecloghe rappresentative, or dramatic eclogues as I shall call them, differed in no way from the purely literary productions which we considered in an earlier section.  Evidence of actual representation is often wanting, and the exact date in most cases is uncertain; but, since there is no doubt that such performances actually did take place, we are not only justified in assuming that several poems of the period belong to this class, but we can also, on internai evidence, arrange them more or less in a natural sequence of dramatic development.  One such eclogue has come down to us from the pen of Baldassare Taccone, a Genoese who also wrote mythological plays on the subjects of Danae and Actaeon.  Another, interesting as dealing with the corruption of the Curia at a moment when its scandalous traffic was carried on in the light of day with more than usually cynical indifference, was actually presented at Rome under the patronage of Cardinal Giovanni Colonna at the carnival of 1490, during the pontificate of Innocent VIII.  Gradually a more complex form was evolved, the number of speakers was increased, and some of these made their entrance during the progress of the recitation.  So too in the matter of metrical form, the strict terza rima of the earlier examples came to be diversified with rime sdrucciole, and by being intermingled with verses with internal rime, with ottava rima, settenari couplets, and lyrical measures.  Castiglione’s representation at Urbino has been noticed previously.  Among similar productions may be mentioned two poems by a certain Caperano of Faenza, printed in 1508, while others are found at Siena in 1517 and 1523.  Besides the texts that are extant we also have record of a good many which

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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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