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.
the Arcadian drama of Italy, the Sidneian romance borrowed from Spain, and the native tradition of the romantic drama.[365] But we have seen that the most important examples of dramatic pastoral in this country, though to some extent conditioned like the rest by the above-mentioned influences, were the outcome of direct and conscious experiment.  In part, at least, the earliest, and by far the most simple, was the work of Samuel Daniel himself, which aimed at nothing beyond the mere transference of the Italian tradition unaltered on to the English stage.  A different aim underlay the attempts alike of Fletcher and Randolph; the combination, namely, of the traditions of the Arcadian and romantic dramas.  This common end they sought, however, by very diverse means.  Fletcher, while adopting the machinery and methods of the popular drama, left the ideal and imaginary content practically untouched, and even chose a plot which in its structure resembled those familiar in the romantic drama even less than did Guarini’s own.  Randolph, on the other hand, while preserving much of the classical mechanism as he found it in Guarini, altered the whole tone and character of the piece to correspond to the greater complexity of interest, more genial humour, and more genuine romanticism of the English stage.  Lastly, we found Jonson cutting himself almost entirely adrift from the tradition of Italian Arcadianism, and seeking to create an essentially national pastoral by the combination of shepherd lads and girls, transmuted from actuality by a natural process of refinement akin to that of Theocritus, with the magic and fairy lore of popular fancy, and with the characters of Robin and Marian and all the essentially English tradition of Sherwood.  These three chief experiments in the production of an English pastoral drama which should rival that of Italy stand, together with Daniel’s two plays, apart from the general run of pieces of the kind.  It is also worth notice that they are all alike unaffected by the Sidneian romance.  The remaining plays which form the great bulk of the contribution made by English drama to pastoral, and among which we must look for such dramatic pastoral tradition as existed, are almost all characterized by a more or less prevalent court atmosphere, disguisings and adventures in shepherd’s garb forming the mainstay of the plot, while the genuine pastoral elements supply little beyond the background of the action.

Into the post-restoration pastorals it is no part of my present scheme to enter.  They flourished for a while under the wing of the fashionable romance of France, but were almost more than their predecessors the things of artificial convention, having their form and being in a world whose only pre-occupations were the pangs and transports of sensibility.  They occupy by right a small corner in the Carte du Tendre.  Nor do I propose to do more than allude in passing to Allan Ramsay’s Gentle Shepherd.  In spite of the almost unvarying

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