AskDefine | Define eclogue

Dictionary Definition

eclogue n : a short descriptive poem of rural or pastoral life [syn: bucolic, idyll]

User Contributed Dictionary



From εξ + λογος: (ek(s) + logos) out + read/word


  1. A poem in the form of a conversation between shepherds.

Extensive Definition

An eclogue is a poem in a classical style on a pastoral subject. Poems in the genre are sometimes also called bucolics.
The etymology of the word is a Romanization of the Greek eklogē (), meaning 'draft, choice, selection (particularly of short passages)'. The term originally referred to short poems of any genre, or selections from poetry-books. The ancients referred to individual poems of Virgil's Bucolica as 'eclogae' and the term was used by later Latin poets to refer to their own bucolic poetry, often in imitation of Virgil. The combination of Virgil's influence and the persistence of bucolic poetry through the Renaissance imposed 'eclogues' as the accepted term for the genre. Later Roman poets who wrote eclogues include Calpurnius and Nemesianus.

Modern Eclogues

The first English language eclogues were written by Alexander Barclay, in 1514. In English literature, Edmund Spenser's The Shepheardes Calendar (1579) also belongs to the genre (twelve eclogues, one for each month of the year). Alexander Pope produced a series of four eclogues (one for each season of the year) in imitation of Virgil in 1709. The Spanish poet Garcilaso de la Vega also wrote eclogues in the Virgilian style. In French, Pierre de Ronsard wrote a series of eclogues under the title Les Bucoliques, and Clément Marot also wrote in the genre. In the seventeenth century, collections of eclogues were published by the Polish poets Szymon Szymonowic and Józef Bartłomiej Zimorowic. Miklós Radnóti, the Hungarian Jewish poet wrote remarkable eclogues about his tragic era, the Holocaust (he was executed by the fleeing German army some months before the end of WWII). Seamus Heaney's collection Electric Light (2001) includes a "Bann Valley Eclogue", a "Glanmore Eclogue", and an English version of Virgil's ninth eclogue. The Spanish poet Giannina Braschi wrote both a poetic treatise on Garcilaso de la Vega's Eclogues, as well as a book of poems in homage to the Spanish master, entitled "Empire of Dreams". The most prolific modern poet writing eclogues was Louis MacNeice. His eclogues included "Eclogue by a five barred gate", "Eclogue for the motherless", "An eclogue for christmas", and "Eclogue from Iceland".
Igor Stravinsky titled the second and third movements of his Duo Concertant (1932) "Eclogue I" and "Eclogue II". The middle movement of his three-movement Ode (1943) is also titled "Eclogue".

Variations on a theme

In 1526 the Italian Renaissance poet Jacopo Sannazaro published his Eclogae Piscatoriae, replacing the traditional Virgilian shepherds with fishermen from the Bay of Naples. He was imitated by the English poet Phineas Fletcher in his Piscatorie Eclogs (1633). Another English poet, William Diaper, produced Nereides: or Sea-Eclogues in 1712. The speakers are sea-gods and sea-nymphs. By the early eighteenth century, the whole pastoral genre was ripe for parody. John Gay ridiculed the eclogues of Ambrose Philips in his Shepherd's Week and Mary Wortley Montagu wrote six "Town Eclogues", substituting the fashionable society of contemporary London for Virgil's rural Arcadia.


eclogue in German: Ekloge
eclogue in French: Églogue
eclogue in Latvian: Ekloga
eclogue in Hungarian: Ekloga
eclogue in Japanese: エクローグ
eclogue in Dutch: Ecloge
eclogue in Norwegian: Eklog
eclogue in Portuguese: Écloga
eclogue in Russian: Эклога (стихотворение)
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