Pastoral is a double longing after innocence and happiness, its universal idea is the Golden Age it is based on the antithesis of Art and Nature; and its fundamental motive is hostility to urban life. As educational awakening started to filter into the consciousness of writers and artists throughout the seventeenth century, their work began to take on more social awareness and a religious tone. Pastoral representation is clear through much of seventeenth century poetry and literature of all forms. While this genre ultimately complicates the subject undertaken by the poet, removing simplicity as every line can be read with a deeper meaning, it has been proved as a very necessary tool of the poetic art. Poets writing within this genre such as John Milton, John Donne, and Aemilia Lanyer, give themselves controls and a direct aim with which they can express their views. The nature of contrasting truths, found common within everyday life allows the writer to comment on the status quo, both positively and negatively while also inserting his own belief into his completed work. Milton uses the pastoral genre to infuse Paradise Lost with his beliefs on the politics of society, notably, through his descriptions of settings and landscapes. Different from Milton, Donne is able to benefit from the use of the pastoral by not describing his setting but by personifying it (the sun) in order to showcase love. Lanyer's poem appears to speak wholly about a setting. In actuality, she uses the landscape to show her emotional connection with the place and the feelings it evokes. The pastoral genre enables the poet to be a social commentator and an artist, simultaneously.
[...] All of these descriptions reference images of the natural world and are, thus, relatable to the reader while of a wholly fantastic nature as well. Representation of the Devil in Paradise Lost is not romanticized. The Devil represents an evil side of society, of politics. Here, Milton inserts his own thoughts of evil, or the parts of his personality that were not pure. The Devil becomes the definition of anti-authority. Milton uses Paradise Lost to comment on religious scripture of the bible, effectively, using this form as a picture in which religion can be viewed. [...]
[...] He rejected the belief that the monarch had a right to rule with a divine right. This can be seen throughout his epic poem as he reaffirms man's responsibility to self, not to control others. Paradise Lost, Milton's epic poem, is meticulously organized as a forum to show contrasts. Judaism is contrasted against Christianity, man against nature, Adam against Eve and reason against passion. It is composed in the same form as the traditional accepted example of pastoral work, Virgil's Aeneid, making Paradise Lost, the seventeenth century's leading example of pastoral poetry. [...]
[...] In this poem, even centuries later, the reader can see the poet's description and read her emotions as tied to the place, much stronger because of the connotations it holds. Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost, is layered, intense and descriptive. It can also be read as a great tool of landscape and social comment. Done used the pastoral genre to his benefit as a form to comment on landscape and setting. Donne, similarly, injected his thoughts on love, through relatable descriptions. [...]
[...] By giving inanimate objects human qualities, the author allows his work to be romanticized in a manner which would otherwise be read as out of place or unrelated to the story (this was also oft found throughout sketches and paintings, the same norms were often applied.) The poet can comment on the political or social by providing an anecdote in the story that has direct reference or is symbolic of an event, without overt description. The speaker in most works of pastoral poetry is permitted by the poet to idealize concepts which would otherwise be considered of fantasy, unacceptably unrealistic (this behavior is subsequently accepted by the reader.) As was also common during the late sixteenth century, becoming more common practice into the seventeenth century, daily actions were romanticized through poetry as they were dramatized. [...]
[...] In a final look at the pastoral genre, Amelia Lanyer's The Description of Cookham uses this mode to commentate on the political and the social, in a more overt tone than the previous two works. Written in 1611, Lanyer incorporates common ideals of society and community and expresses her understanding of both by using the poem as a description of her surroundings and as a form with which she can insert her viewpoint. She opens with a description of the place about which she will dedicate the stanzas of her poem. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee