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Pastoral Verse, Pastoral Elegy, Pastorela

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Latin Poetry


Pastoral Verse - from Latin -pastor - "shepherd" is a genre of poetry that describes the beauties of an imaginary or idyllic life in the country. The original poems were filled with shepherds, peasants and nymphs frolicking. The imagery and content is simple and ideal, unfettered by the grunge of realism. Pastoral sub genres are Idylls (short pastoral poem of any form), bucolic (verse describing a more aristocratic, upper class country life including politics and philosophy), eclogue (dialogue or monologue arguing the concerns of country living, ) and georgics("how to" poetry about the work life in the country, animal husbandry, care of crops). As a poetic genre rather than a verse form the structure is at the discretion of the poet.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (1st stanza) by Christopher Marlowe


Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove


That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods or steepy mountain yields.

and my version of a modern pastoral idyll (without the shepherds and nymphs):

Chardonnay Summer by Judi Van Gorder

The highway trickles down to a one horse country road

winding with the grace of a spring filly in fall.

Tall poplars line the lane as it ambles south and slows,

gravel 'neath my wheels makes a crackle then a yawl.


The summer day has cooled with evening's mystic cloak

falling without sound on the vineyard. I'm stayed

remembering green days when we walked to the gnarly oak

near the vines and laughed at nothing, unafraid.


Today like yesterday, the Chardonnay ripen on the vine,

our initials carved in the trunk of the tree

are visible still in the rough bark aged like the wine

we savor now under our grape leaf canopy.

  • A pastoral elegy is mournful funeral verse set in an idyllic country scene. In the The Old Missouri Hymnal Song Book is a song about the death of a shepherd. A town in Indiana was named for the shepherd because of these lyrics. Pastoral Elegy

  • The Pastorela or Pastourelle (little young shepherdess) is the 12th century, Occitan-French feminine version of Pastoral verse. This thematic genre was popular among 12th century troubadours, usually telling the story of a knight and his encounter with a shepherdess and all of the possibilities that would result from such a meeting. Usually the knight was portrayed as bumbling and the sweet young shepherdess as cunning and clever. The narrative verse, is often written as if by the knight himself in the first person which one might also categorize as dramatic verse.

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