Elements of the Pastoral: They’re Everywhere!

How now, rustics! Wither are you bound?

It occurred to me about five minutes ago that you read a fair amount of pastoral literature last year, but we weren’t really thinking about it then. What about Act 4 of ‘The Winter’s Tale’, for example? (You studied it for LITB2 Dramatic Genres.) Or some of those Thomas Hardy poems? And then earlier this year, when we were considering metaphor for LITB4, we looked at Keats’ ‘Ode to Autumn’. Remember?

I mean to say. They’re positively pastoral. I suggest you dig them out and have another read. You never know, you might discover some ‘elements’ lurking about.


Explore Keats’ use of metaphor in ‘To Autumn’.


Here is the essay starter for the essay on ‘To Autumn’. This is due in on Monday 10th October.

Explore Keats’ use of metaphor in ‘To Autumn’.

In his biography of Keats, Andrew Motion considers some of the ways in which the poem explores Autumn’s peculiar quality of facilitating both ‘fulfilment and finality.’[1] It is the season of harvest, the culmination of the agricultural year, the conclusion of the efforts and labour of preceding months and, in this sense, its harvest fulfils the promises of Spring and Summer. Yet in its conclusiveness, it is also an ending, a loss, a death. Its tension is ‘sublime’  in that it is bittersweet: its glory is also its death. Its splendour is in its ceasing to have such. In this respect, it ‘balances forces of life and death’[2] and the former is made all the more beautiful and poignant as a result of its juxtaposition with the latter.

[1] Motion, Andrew: Keats, p. 457.

[2] Ibid. p. 460.