Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 648 pages of information about Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama.
who, seeing that her love for Iacinto may no more avail, at last relents.  A third nymph, introduced to make the numbers even, takes the veil among the followers of Diana, and so lives the object of Silvio’s chaste regard.  It will be readily seen how in the character of Sfortunato we have the forerunner of Tasso’s Aminta; but it will also appear what poor use has been made of the situation.  The truth is that we have up to now been dealing merely with origins, with productions which are of interest only in the reflected light of later work; whatever there is of real beauty and of permanent value in the pastoral drama of Italy is due to the breath of life inspired into the phantasms of earlier writers by the genius of Tasso and Guarini.


We have now followed the dramatic pastoral from its obscure origin in the eclogue to the eve of its assuming a recognized and abiding position in the literature of Europe[167].  But if it is in a measure easy thus to trace back the Arcadian drama to its historical sources, and to show how the Aminta came to be possible, it is not so easy to show how it came to be actual.  All creative work is the outcome of three fashioning forces, the historical position, the personal circumstances of the artist, and his individual genius.  The pastoral drama had reached what I may perhaps be allowed to call the ‘psychological point’ in its development.  At the same moment it happened that Tasso, having returned from a fruitless and uncongenial mission to the Valois court, enjoyed a brief period of calm and prosperity in the congenial society of Leonora d’ Este, before the critical bickerings to which he exposed himself in connexion with the Gerusalemme wrought havoc with an already over-sensitive and overstrained temperament.  Furthermore it happened that he brought to the spontaneous composition of his courtly toy just that touch of languorous beauty, that soft vein of sentiment, which formed perhaps his most characteristic contribution to the artistic tone of his age, veiling a novel mood in his favourite phrase, un non so che[168].  Had all this not been, had not the fortune of a suitable genius and the chance of personal surroundings jumped with the historical possibility, we might indeed have had any number of lifeless ‘Sacrifices’ and ‘Unhappy Ones,’ but Italy would have added no new kind to the forms of dramatic art.  Had it not been for the Aminta, the pastoral drama must almost necessarily have been stillborn, for Guarini was too much of a pedant to do more than to imitate and enlarge, while other writers belong to the decline.

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