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.
della Rovere.  The poet’s father enjoyed the protection of the Duke Guidubaldo II of Urbino, but in after days he removed to the court of the Estensi at Ferrara.  It was here that the play appeared in 1607, though it is dedicated to Francesco Maria della Rovere, who had by that time succeeded his father in the duchy of Urbino.  The plot of the play is highly intricate, and shows a tendency towards the introduction of an adventurous element; it turns upon the tribute of youths and maidens exacted from the island of Scyros by the king of Thrace.  The figure of the satyr is replaced by a centaur who carries off one of the nymphs.  Her cries attract two youths who succeed in driving off the monster, but are severely wounded in the encounter.  The nymph, Celia, thereupon falls in love with both her rescuers at once, and it is only when one of them proves to be her long-lost brother that she is able to make up her mind between them[204].  This brother had been carried off as a child by the Thracians together with his betrothed Filli, and having escaped was lately returned to his native land.  From a dramatic point of view the denoument is even more preposterous than usual.  The principal characters leave the stage at the end of the fourth act, under sentence of death, and do not reappear, the whole of the last act being occupied with narratives of their subsequent fortunes.  A point which is possibly worth notice is the introduction of that affected talk on the technicalities of sheepcraft which adds so greatly to the already intolerable artificiality of the later pastoral drama, but which is happily absent from the work of Tasso and Guarini.

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We have now reached the end of our survey of the Italian pastoral drama.  In spite of the space it has been necessary to devote to the subject, it must be borne in mind that we have treated it from one point of view only.  Besides the interest which it possesses in connexion with the development of pastoral tradition, it also plays a very important part in the history of dramatic art, not in Italy alone, but over the whole of Europe.  On this aspect of the subject we have hardly so much as touched.  Nor is this all.  If it is true, as is commonly assumed, that the opera had its birth in the Orfeo of Angelo Poliziano, it is not less true that it found its cradle in the Arcadian drama.  A few isolated pieces may still be able to charm us by their poetic beauty.  In dealing with the rest it must never be forgotten that without the costly scenery and elaborate musical setting that lent body and soul to them in their day, we have what is little better than the dry bones of these ephemeridae of courtly art.

Chapter IV.

Dramatic Origins of the English Pastoral Drama


Having at length arrived at what must be regarded as the main subject of this work, it will be my task in the remaining chapters to follow the growth of the pastoral drama in England down to the middle of the seventeenth century, and in so doing to gather up and weave into a connected web the loose threads of my discourse.

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