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.
    Nor with thee Hermes, thou art full of sleightes,
      And when I need thee Jove will send thee foorth. 
      Say Cynthia, shall Pandora rule thy starre,
      And wilt thou play Diana in the woods,
      Or Hecate in Plutos regiment?
    Luna. I, Pandora.
    Pand. Fayre Nature let thy hand mayd dwell with her,
      For know that change is my felicity,
      And ficklenesse Pandoraes proper forme. 
      Thou madst me sullen first, and thou Jove, proud;
      Thou bloody minded; he a Puritan: 
      Thou Venus madst me love all that I saw,
      And Hermes to deceive all that I love;
      But Cynthia made me idle, mutable,
      Forgetfull, foolish, fickle, franticke, madde;
      These be the humors that content me best,
      And therefore will I stay with Cynthia....
    Nat. Now rule, Pandora, in fayre Cynthias steede,
      And make the moone inconstant like thy selfe;
      Raigne thou at womens nuptials, and their birth;
      Let them be mutable in all their loves,
      Fantastical, childish, and foolish, in their desires,
      Demaunding toyes: 
      And stark madde when they cannot have their will. 
      Now follow me ye wandring lightes of heaven,
      And grieve not, that she is not plast with you;
      Ail you shall glaunce at her in your aspects,
      And in conjunction dwell with her a space. (V. i.)

And so Pandora becomes the ‘Woman in the Moon.’  The play, in its topical and satiric purpose, and above all, in its utilization of mythological material, bears a distinct relationship to the masque.  The shepherds are in their origin philosophical, standing for the race of mankind in general, rather than pastoral; Utopian, in fact, rather than Arcadian.  These early mythological plays stand alone, in that the pastoral scenes they contain are apparently uninfluenced by the Italian drama.  The kind attained some popularity as a subject of courtly presentation, but it did not long preserve its original character.  The later examples, with which we shall be concerned hereafter, always exhibit some characteristics which may be immediately or ultimately traced to the influence of Tasso and Guarini.  This influence we must now turn to consider in some detail, as evidenced as well in translations and imitations as in the general tone and machinery of an appreciable portion of the Elizabethan drama.[226]


In any inquiry involving the question of foreign influence in literature it is obviously necessary to treat of the work done in the way of translation, although when the influence is of at all a widespread nature, as in the present instance, such discussion is apt to usurp a position unjustified by its intrinsic importance.  In most cases, probably, the energy devoted to the task of rendering the foreign models directly into the language they influenced is rather useful as supplying us with a rough measure of their popularity than itself significant as a step in the operation of that influence.  We may safely assume that, in the case of the English pastoral drama, the influence exercised directly by the Italian masterpieces was beyond comparison greater than that which made itself indirectly felt through the labours of translators.

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