Pastoral Literature of the English Renaissance Criticism: Principal Figures Of The Later Renaissance - Essay

Samuel Johnson (essay date 1780)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “On Milton's Lycidas,” in The Pastoral Mode: A Casebook, edited by Bryan Loughrey, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1984, pp. 71-3.

[In the following excerpt, originally published in his Lives of the English Poets in 1780, Johnson critcizes what he thinks are the faults of John Milton's poem Lycidas, whose pastoral form he finds vulgar and disgusting.]

… One of the poems on which much praise has been bestowed is Lycidas; of which the diction is harsh, the rhymes uncertain, and the numbers unpleasing. What beauty there is, we must therefore seek in the sentiments and images. It is not to be considered as the effusion of real passion; for...

(The entire section is 531 words.)

Northrop Frye (essay date 1958)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Literature as Context: Milton's Lycidas,” in The Pastoral Mode: A Casebook, edited by Bryan Loughrey, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1984, pp. 205-15.

[In the following excerpt, originally delivered as a lecture in 1958 and published in 20th Century Literary Criticism in 1972, Frye discusses John Milton's Lycidas as a pastoral elegy, noting the four creative principles of convention, genre, archetype, and autonomous form that Milton uses in its composition. The critic also elucidates the poem's classical and Christian mythic dimensions.]

Lycidas … is an elegy in the pastoral convention, written to commemorate a young man named...

(The entire section is 4554 words.)

Jay A. Gertzman (essay date 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Robert Herrick's Recreative Pastoral,” in Genre, Vol. VII, No. 2, June 1974, pp. 183-95.

[In the following essay, Gertzman illustrates Robert Herrick's “recreative” (as opposed to didactic) pastoral in several poems in his Hesperides, noting that the “cleanly wanton” poems are marked by playful humor, fancy, naive enthusiasm, and genial humility.]

The pastoral poetry of the Renaissance has received a great deal of critical attention in recent years. Of special interest have been the uses to which great poets such as Spenser, Milton and Marvell have put the genre. The moral and spiritual depths beneath the physically delightful surface have...

(The entire section is 5010 words.)

Barry Weller (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Epic as Pastoral: Milton, Marvell, and the Plurality of Genre,” in New Literary History, Vol. 30, No. 1, 1999, pp. 143-57.

[In the following essay, Weller maintains that Andrew Marvell's poetry rehearses the pastoral motifs that inform John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, and he examines how the lyric mode is used in the expansive form of the epic.]

When Milton begins Paradise Regained by defining himself as “I who erewhile the happy garden sung,”1 he is echoing the lines—possibly discarded by Virgil, possibly even non-Virgilian—which prefaced Renaissance editions of The Aeneid:

Ille ego, qui...

(The entire section is 5947 words.)