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Arnold's Pastoral Elegies

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  • Essay length: 1078 words
  • Submitted: 07/10/2004
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GCSE War Poetry

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Arnold's Pastoral Elegies

Pastoral elegies had its origin in the classical poets of ancient Greece, viz, Theocritus, Bion and Moschus. It was lyric in character and dealt with the simple life of shepherds and their day to day occupations, such as singing with their oaten pipes in the flowery meadows, piping as though they would never be old, tending their folk of sheep. The essence of pastoral poetry is simplicity of thought and action in a rustic setting.

Perhaps Arnold's two best-known poems are "The Scholar Gipsy" and "Thyrsis", which are generally labeled as pastoral elegies deeply steeping in classical lore. "The Scholar Gipsy", ostensibly about a seventeenth-century Oxford student who disappeared among the Gypsies is really about the poet himself and his generation, the scholar gypsy becomes a symbol in the light of which Arnold can develop his own position and state his own problems. Drawing on his knowledge of rustic scenes around Oxford, he produced a meditative pastoral poem whose language owes something to Theocritus but whose tone and emotional coloring are very much Arnoldian.

One can not consider "The Scholar Gipsy" as a carbon copy of the traditional pastoral poems, for, though here

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