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.
such a body of literature it would indeed be surprising had the pastourelle motive not found entrance; but it is noteworthy that whereas the French and Latin poems are habitually written from the point of view of the lover, the English ballads adopt that of the peasant maiden to whom the high-born suitor pays his court.  At once the simplest and most poetical of the ballads on this model is that printed by Scott as The Broom of Cowdenknows, a title to which in all probability it has little claim.  It is a delightful example of the minor ballad literature, and I am by no means inclined to regard it as a mere amplification of the much shorter and rather abrupt Bonny May of Herd’s collection, though the latter, so far as it goes, probably offers a less sophisticated text.  In either case a gentleman riding along meets a girl milking, obtains her love, and ultimately returns and marries her.  A similar incident, in which, however, the seducer marries the girl under compulsion and then discovers her to be of noble parentage, is told in a ballad, of which a number of versions have been collected in Scotland under the title of Earl Richard or Earl Lithgow, and of which an English version was current in the seventeenth century and was quoted more than once by Beaumont and Fletcher.[72] This was printed by Percy in the Reliques, and two broadsides of it dating from the restoration are preserved in the Roxburghe collection.  It is inferior to the northern versions, but both are probably late, and contain stanzas belonging to or copied from other ballads, notably the Bonny Hynd of the Herd manuscript and Burd Helen (the Scotch version of Child Waters).  The title of the broadsides is interesting as betraying the influence of the regular pastoral tradition:  ’The beautifull Shepherdesse of Arcadia.  A new pastarell Song of a courteous young Knight, and a supposed Shepheards Daughter.’[73] Again, apparently from the Aberdeen district, comes a ballad on the marriage of a shepherd’s daughter to the Laird of Drum.  On the other hand we find three somewhat similar ballads, Lizie Lindsay or Donald of the Isles, Lizie Baillie, and Glasgow Peggie, recording the elopement of a town girl with a highland gentleman in the disguise of a shepherd.  These are obviously late, though a certain resemblance in style with Johnie Faa makes it possible that they are as old as the middle of the seventeenth century.  None of the pastoral ballads, indeed, can show any credentials which would suggest an earlier date than the second half of the sixteenth century, nor can any of them lay claim to first-rate poetic merit.[74]

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