Pastoral Ideals and the Life Cycle

"Genres de vie" is the French term for what English speakers call "the stages of life." This book concerns itself with the fundamental connection between genres de vie and literary genres, between chronological categories of human existence and traditional kinds of poetic discourse. Its central focus falls upon the debate of youth and age, a verse convention which sets a boy and an old man in a rustic landscape and pits them in generational combat. It argues that this neglected Renaissance commonplace distills the thematic and formal essence of the larger mode of pastoral. While offering a rhetorical, historical and anthroplological analysis of the particular sub-genre, the book proposes a new way of reading all pastoral, based on a study of the life cycle.,

Pastoral is usually regarded as an idealized vision of rustic life generated by a rejection of the city or the court. This book develops the theory that pastoral is generated by a rejection of adulthood and middle age. The Arcadian world, situated spatially at the peripheries of civilization, represents stages of development situated temporally at the peripheries of human life. This thematic preoccupation with rejecting the middle finds appropriate expression in the formal structure underlying most Renaissance pastoral works-the verbal contest or debate. The book discovers the source of this generic form in the medieval predecessor of the eclogue known as conflictus or debat. By delineating the schematic components and affective strategies of this generic source, the book prepares an approach to later pastoral writings. The final proof the book's thesis emerges in its application to a single major work. Reading The Shepheardes Calender as an example of the pastoral debate of youth and age discloses the poem's hidden unity and reveals how Edmund Spenser employed the resources of kind to achieve his own novel purposes.

This book arrives at the interpretation of a single poem by way of investigating the generic convention to which that poem belongs. And it examines the convention itself in light of a more general discussion locating the pastoral mode within the universe of literary kinds. Such a discussion begins with an


essay at definition. What, in the first place, do we mean by "pastoral"? Many writers have applied themselves to this question; their collective effort yields a discouraging lack of consensus. The sixteenth-century critic, George Puttenhame, defined it as an allegorical screen behind which poets can take liberties "to glance at greater matters" of state and evade responsibility for criticism.2AIexander Pope claimed that pastoral was "a representation of Innocence," while Dr. Johnson saw it as a decadent affectation of crudeness .3 Some modern critics have reacted to the untidy variety of theories and manifestations of pastoral by evading the question altogether, preferring either to speak of different "versions of pastoral" which share no common identity, or to recognize pastoral simply by the presence of the "pastor" or shepherd motif.4 Though such nominalistic approaches avoid the pitfalls of pedantic disputation and over-restrictive classification, they deny us the fruitful use of a uniquely significant, emotionally laden and time-honored concept.

My own sense of the core idea of pastoral derives from its usage in common parlance rather than in literary discourse. I arrive at the meaning of "the pastoral" by asking what is meant by "a pastoral," or "pastoral," the adjective. To me, a "pastoral" suggests something very like "an idyll"--the word Theocritus, "the father of pastoral," used to label his poems. As an adjective, "pastoral" is synonymous with "idyllic." I understand it to mean some place or state that is distant from and more desirable than the place or state from which I regard it. "The pastoral," or plain "pastoral," I define as a mode of literature that envisions an ideal world.

For the Renaissance writer and his audience, this is indeed what all fiction does; it depicts life not as it is, but as it might be. In his Defence of Poesy, Sir Phillip Sidney declares that the poet achieves godlike stature because of his ability to rise above mere reality and to create ideal worlds of the imagination:

Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done; neither pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor

whatsoever else may make the too-much-loved earth more lovely; her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.5

Sidney argues for the idealistic quality not of a single mode but of all literature. Yet in choosing the example of a verbal tapestry that portrays the beauties of nature and in referring to the poet's creation as a "golden world," he equates the whole realm of the imagination with the familiar landscape of pastoral, where men "fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world."6

No matter what he actually thought of the idea of a peaceful rustic existence, the Elizabethan poet could not disengage the notion of "a better world--thaworld"--thatt is, an alternative way of being-from traditional pastoral conventions. He often mixed the vision of a remote heroic age of warriors with that of the Golden Age when all was peace and harmony. Indeed, though Sidney himself frequently expressed aversion for the shepherd's life and for the natural setting, he situated his epic romance glorifying prowess, courage and striving in a perfect rural landscape, and titled it Arcadia .7

Despite the frequent combining of modes, the ideal qualities of the pastoral world remain distinct from those of the heroic. The world of Faerie traversed by the knight of epic is in fact usually a darker, wilder and more treacherous place than the actual environment of the audience. What makes his world "golden" is the quality of effort and accomplishment it elicits from its inhabitants in their struggles to triumph over nature and one another. In pastoral, on the other hand, the environment itself, rather than the people and their deeds, has the golden shimmer. The setting, both as landscape and as social structure provides a place that absorbs the individual isolated identity into its surroundings. The ideal life here is a function not of being good but of being in the good place. "The good place" translated into Greek is "Eu-topia," and forms the title of Sir Thomas More's vision of a golden world - a vision that Sidney approves as a "way of patterning a commonwealth


most absolute."8 In its portrayal of the golden world as a good place which guarantees the good life to its inhabitants, pastoral is a kind of utopian fiction.

While the author of epic or romance makes us forget our literal surroundings by transporting us to his legendary setting, the pastoralist, like his utopian counterpart, emphasizes the juxtaposition of golden and brazen worlds in order to demonstrate the superiority of the other place to here. He may do this with a homiletic disquisition, as in this typical passage from Richard Barnefield's, The Shepheard's Content (1594):

Thus have I showed in my Countrey veine

The sweete Content that Shepheards still injoy;

The mickle pleasure, and the little paine

That ever doth awayte the Sheepheards Boy...

Who would not then a simple Shepheard bee,

Rather than be a mightie Monarch made?

Since he enjoyes much perfect libertie,

As never can decay, nor ever fade:9

Or he may imply the contrast through a catalog of rustic delights available only to those who have discovered the perfect place-as does Theocritus:

Here are oaks and galingale; here sweetly hum the bees about the hives. Here are two springs of cold water.

and Vergil:

Here are cool springs; here are soft meadows, Lycoris; here woods; here with you only time itself would slowly waste me away.

and Milton:

Here dwell no frowns, nor anger; from these gates Sorrow flies far. See, here be all the pleasures ... 10


With such self-conscious evocations of the beauties of the other world, the pastoralist often attempts to move his mistress to "come away" from brazen reality to a land of heart's desire:

Come hue with me, and be my loue, And we will all the pleasures proue, That Vallies, groues, hills and fieldes, Woods, or steepie mountaine yeeldes.

And wee will sit vpon the Rocks,

Seeing the Shepheards feede theyr flocks,

By shallow Riuers, to whose falls,

Melodious byrds sings Madrigalls.11

In such conventional poems of "Invitation," the remote and enviable quality of the bucolic setting is meant to seduce the listener into imaginative or physical surrender. But the other world of pastoral also shares with the utopian fiction a critical and philosophical function. The vision of a place free from the economic, political and social evils of the present system supplies a point of view from which the status quo can be judged and faulted. On these grounds, Sidney defends pastoral as a form of utopian satire:

Is the poor pipe disdained, which sometimes out of Meliboeus' mouth can show the misery of people under hard lords and ravening soldiers, and again, by Tityrus, what blessedness is derived to them that lie lowest from the goodness of them that sit highest? Sometimes under the pretty tales of wolves and sheep, can include the whole considerations of wrong-doing and patience.12

Whether sensuous or moral, the ideal worlds of utopian fictions lend themselves to classification by the values they embody. In the aristocracy of Plato's Republic, these are the values of justice: everyone gets what he deserves-from visionary contemplation to hard labor-according to talents determined by birth and innate capability. In More's Utopia, the good is the temperate pleasure of prosperity and peace, equally


distributed to everyone. In Huxley's Island, the best of all possible worlds provides its inhabitants with a variety of mystical revelations.

Pastoral versions of utopia share a specific set of values.13 They envision the good life as one lived in accord with some conception of "nature." The ideals of such a natural existence take shape largely by contrast to the competitive, complex and artificial life of court and city. Bucolic life is imagined as humane, simple and spontaneous. Though often physically strenuous, the human condition in Arcadia is admirable because it is easier in a mental, an emotional, a moral and a spiritual sense. This kind of admiration for a "natural" life is described by A. 0. Lovejoy and George Boas as a product of civilized man's misgivings with civilization," and it is classified in their history of ideas as the ideology of primitivism.14 In the golden world of pastoral, primitivist values are reified in specific poetic conventions. 15

The most prevalent of these are the figure of herdsman and the setting of the natural landscape. In the shepherd, man is portrayed as vigorous and pure, uncorrupted by the degeneracy of polite society. In the groves, forests and fields of Arcadia, the person finds surroundings that are beautiful, fresh and open to the four elements and to other forms of life. The shepherd's harmony with these surroundings symbolizes the harmony and integration of his inner nature, a lost human wholeness. Sidney's old herdsman Dorcas, for example, describes his life as liberated from the toils of ambition, "neither subject to violent oppression, nor servile flattery." Among his flocks, "it is lawfull for a man to be good if he list ... there where the eye may be busied in considering the works of nature and the hart quietly rejoyced in the honest using them." 16

From the urban perspective of poet and audience, all rural environments may appear similar. But in fact, Arcadia is not only a place of perpetual spring and flowered banks. A significant proportion of bucolic poetry praises the rugged and rocky features of country life. The natural world of poverty, of


labor, of winter and rough weather is also an ideal environment, for it nourishes the simple virtues of hardiness, health and honesty, and it provides an opportunity for those who are alienated from civilization to discover how "sweet are the uses of adversity." There, in the words of Duke Senior in As You Like It, they may find a life" ...exempt from public haunt... tongues in trees, books in the running brooks/ Sermons in stones, and good in everything." (II,i,15-17)

A number of scholars have remarked upon the presence of two pastoral landscapes and the correlation of these landscapes with the two varieties of philosophic primitivism. 17 "Soft" primitivism glorifies the natural life for its freedom from civilized restraint and for the ease and pleasure it provides. "Hard" primitivism is a response to the corruption and lack of restraint of civilized life and praises nature for the strictness and discipline it confers. But little notice has been paid to a corresponding polarity in the second essential pastoral convention, the figure of the rustic. Whether that character is male or female, whether a tender of sheep, goats or cattle, whether a farmer, a forester or even a fisherman has little direct bearing on the sentiments he expresses or on the ideals he embodies. The determining factor is the person's age. There are essentially two kinds of pastoral characters, young and old. One rarely finds a shepherd of middle age.

The association of idealized conceptions of youth with pastoral conventions was familiar long before William Empson wrote about childhood as a "version of pastoral" in the 1930's.18 But discussions of this association have been brief, peripheral or have centered on late 18th and 19th century adaptations of pastoral conventions to the Romantic myth of childhood. Yet both ancient and renaissance pastorals are also engaged with the ideal of childhood innocence, especially as that ideal condition is brought into relief by the imminence of its departure during the stage of adolescence.

The mode's concern with youth is complemented by its concern with old age. Whether it be in eclogues by Theocritus, Vergil, Garcilaso, Marot, Mantuan, or jonson, in pastoral


romances like Rosalynd or Diana, in collections of lyrics like England's Helicon or Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, one consistently finds herdsmen of advanced years playing important dramatic roles and representing a distinct cluster of attitudes and ideas. The aged shepherd is not, as one of the few scholars who have noticed his generic presence maintains, a minor intruder from neighboring genres who actually has no place in the bucolic world. 19 He is native to it, and an understanding of his part is essential to any definition of the genre as a whole. just as both soft and hard landscapes together comprise the setting of pastoral, so both youth and age are the pastoral stages of life.20

What accounts for this threefold connection between pastoral conventions, a golden world of primitivistic ideals and the life stages of youth and age? The answer to this question is based on the polarity of center and periphery. All three represent remoteness from the hub of the dominant socially defined reality. The pastoralist invites the listener to come away from his normal haunts in city and court to a place that is better than "the world." "The world" is the creation and the possession of the worldly, to whom primitivists always feel superior. And who are the wordly? To be sure, they are the members of the sex, race, class and party that is privileged with wealth and power in any particular society at a given time. But in a more general sense, the wordly are those in every society who are designated by Hindu sacred texts to "maintain the world": adults.21 Adults are people who have finished growing up-"L adultus, past participle of adolescere, to grow up." Adult concerns are specifically those of procreation, custodianship, ambition, wealth and power. Renaissance critics located such concerns within the purview of the "life of action"--the vita activa-and specifically excluded the vita activa from the ideals of Arcadia.22 In visual schemata of the ages of man, adulthood is represented by the highest step on a staircase that descends in both directions.23 Like Oedipus while he was king, the adult stands tall on two legs at noon. Youth is still in the process of growing-adolescens-while the elderly descend, shrink or


walk on three legs. Both youth and age reside on the peripheries of the adult world, and for this reason are pictured in pastoral as inhabitants of its green and golden fringes.

The question of why youth and age have such prominent roles in pastoral can also be answered by reference to the life cycle itself. Youth and age are polar phases of that cycle and draw our attention to its importance as a way of organizing information and understanding reality. This orderly sequence of developmental changes is the place of strongest contact between the human and the natural world. The person who has never smelled new mown hay or shivered on a frosty morning will nevertheless experience the force of nature in the thickening of his beard or the wrinkling of his hands. Even the most refined urban dweller is aware of the inner changes that are brought on by the same "force that through the green fuse drives the flower." And the periods of youth and age are the times in everyone's life when the natural forces of growth and decline make themselves most strongly felt. During those periods, the realities of the self and "the world" which dominate the less mutable being of the adult may more often be questioned .24

Not only is the life cycle the civilized person's strongest and most intimate confrontation with nature, that cycle has always appeared as a particularly "primitive" topic of concern. It is the source of myths, rituals and patterns of design in the most widespread and aboriginal of cultures; and it is likewise, the most fundamental standard for the distribution of duties and privileges.25 A modern anthropologist has declared that "the simpler the organization of a society the more influential age will be as a criterion for allocating roles."26 Like singing contests or seasonal festivals, then, an emphasis on stages of the life cycle and particularly on the contrast of youth and age provides poets with a touch of real rusticity to authenticate their pictures of the pastoral world. The intrinsic connections between pastoral's thematic ideals and the schema of the life


cycle make it only natural that Shakespeare should have reserved his Seven Ages of Man speech for declaration in the Forest of Arden.27

Since youth and age are both marginal in relation to middle age and the metropolitan world, they share many of the same counter-cultural ideals. But insofar as they are situated on opposite boundaries of adulthood, their ideals are polarized. In his own pastoral writings, William Blake suggested the opposing yet complementary relationship of these ideals in his categories of "Innocence and Experience: Contrary States of the Human Soul."28

Blake's terms govern the organization of the next three chapters of this study. In all of them I continue to plait the strands that together constitute pastoral's thematic braid: traditional bucolic conventions, idealized conceptions of the good place, and the extreme stages of the life cycle.

Chapter one deals with innocence, the pastoral of youth. It presents evidence for the association of youth and pastoral rusticity in the mind of the Renaissance reader and poet. First, the traditional Vergillian pattern of the writer's career demanded that the youthful apprentice poet adopt the persona of shepherd-pastoralist. Second, the essential pastoral setting of Eden or the Golden Age was described as the childhood of the human race and as a projection of the individual's own childhood. Third, custodianship of the rural seasonal festivals depicted in pastoral literature was entrusted entirely to institutionalized groups of young people throughout Europe during the early modern period.

The pastoral of youth represents the shepherd as puer eternus-the eternal boy. His physical beauty, his cleansed doors of perception, his unjaded sensitivity, and his access to the energies of the unconscious endow him with special artistic and spiritual gifts. But most important, the young swain incarnates some nostalgic vision of prelapsarian eroticism. Like Feste's song in Twelth Night, the pastoral of youth dallies with the innocence of love/ In the old age." (Il,iv, 47-9) The good life here affords the joys of love without its pains. For this

reason, several critics have said that pastoral itself is a projection of the Freudian Pleasure Principle. During the Renaissance, the ideal of the life of pleasure-the vita voluptatis --represented an alternative to the life of action, the vita activa. Also known as the life of love (vita amoris), the life of pleasure was often symbolized in images of youthful frolics in fields and groves.

The innocent ideal of love without pain or guilt underlies several bucolic motifs. It appears as prepubescent affection unstained by the poison of sexual desire, or as polymorphous sexual play undeflowered by the fall of orgasmic coitus, or as the reign of the spirit of Free Love, when "whatever pleased was lawful." All of these sexual ideals locate the innocence of love some time in the lost past; all describe it by contrast to norms of adult sexuality; and all of them exemplify typical adolescent attitudes and yearnings.

The landscape of the pastoral of youth is the locus amoenus --the pleasureable spot of trees, grass and flowers. Not only does that spot provide an enticing site for making love, the very landscape frequently appears as a figuration of the beloved's body. Such an erotic geography is the ultimate extension of the utopian ideal of the good place and of the Pleasure Principle's dream of infantile gratification. Within the larger, adulthoodoriented universe of epic, the pastoral landscape of the body functions as an "oasis." In the Bible, in the Odyssey, in the Divine Comedy and The Faerie Queene, such bowers of bliss have the recreative allure of childlike absorption in pleasure, but for the epic hero striving to realize his manhood, the locus amoenus' promise of eternal childhood eventually is unmasked as a threat.

Like all utopian ideals, the pastoral of youth is generated by a "negative formula." Innocence is defined by the absence of the constraints and burdens of adult reality. A similar contrast to the central, middle-aged world informs the pastoral of old age. In some instances, bucolic poetry envisions youthful and aged shepherds living in harmony, exchanging the joys and rigors of the mean estate. But more often, pastoral emphasizes


the secondary contrast between the two equally peripheral states. Chapter two, "Fortunate Senex: The Pastoral of Old Age," explores the hard and wintry setting inhabited by elderly shepherds and outlines the ideals of the good life they voice and embody. Formulations of such ideals of old age appear in classic oriental schemata of the life cycle, in anthropological descriptions of old age in primitive communities, and in the writings of present-day gerontologists. A source of many of the old shepherd's ideals is Cicero's De Senectute, where they are expounded by the hero, Cato the Elder. Cato praises self knowledge, moderation, vigor, the feeling of fulfillment, and freedom from both sexual desire and from ambition as the virtues of age, and he links them with retirement from the active life and with the adoption of a rustic existence.

Usually conveyed by exhortation rather than invitation, the values of the old shepherds are gounded in an autumnal or wintry nature, a nature of harvest, reckoning, judgment and stark unmasking. These values commend looking toward the future rather than the past; they prize self-restraint, consideration of consequence, thrift and work. The ideals of age are usually associated with the soul and mind rather than the body. Ultimately the wisdom of age is not only practical but transcendental. Old rustic characters tend to become hermits, philosophers and magicians. In this guise, they embody the last of the three traditional ways of life, the vita contemplativa.

The same negative formula or dialectical logic that generates the pastoral world as a utopian alternative to the actual one, when applied to Arcadia itself, leads to the widespread phenomenon of "anti-pastoral." A speaker in the landscape takes an anti-pastoral stance, not when he attacks the values of an opponent (and thereby affirms his own), but when he expresses pain or internal conflict. In this case he no longer fades into the setting, either hard or soft, no longer represents an ideal either of innocence of experience. Instead, he severs himself from the landscape and also from the conditions of his age, and accentuates the isolation of his individual identity. The melancholy swain represents the denial of pastoral ideals


because he no longer inhabits the good place, where simply to be is to be happy, or at least content. And his complaint, which is among the most popular of pastoral forms, usually denies the very landscape conventions which define his setting.

Chapter three, "The Shepheardes Sorrow," shows how the repudiation of pastoral ideals is related to the rejection of both youth and age. It follows the logic of reversal in different forms of poetic complaint, providing background for the later discussion of Colin Clout's mysterious presentation of himself in The Shepheardes Calender as a puer senex: an unripe, prematurely aged young-old man. There are a number of causes for the melancholy shepherd's rejection of pastoral ideals: youth's disappointment in love, or its dismay at the triumph of mutability and death and old age's despair at the failure of long years' experience to provide contentment and wholeness. That rejection often is accompanied by an affirmation of a wholly different kind of ideal, one that moves out of the rustic landscape and out of the natural cycle encompassing youth and age. The new ideal is either a transcendental vision of the "greener fields and pastures new" of life beyond the grave, or an ethos of aestheticism which elevates the voice and the verse that chants its own despair into imperishable monuments. Finally, while bidding adieu to the bucolic setting and the ideals it represents, the anti-pastoral of melancholy will sometimes turn from the past and look forward to a glorious future in the epic quest, the vita activa, and the adult stage of life.

Having completed this mapping of pastoral themes in terms of the positive and negative ideals of youth and age, the study continues with an examination of the relationship among those four terms. They constitute the poles upon which a structural paradigm of all pastoral poetry can be suspended. Chapter four, " 'Youthe and Elde are often at Debaat,' " focusses upon such a paradigm: the allegorical verse debate -a specific "kinde" or subgenre especially popular among Renaissance pastoralists.

Though it has distant analogs in the Theocritean amoebic singing contest, the Renaissance pastoral debate is the survival


of a medieval rather than a classical convention. The chapter's title quotes a comment of Chaucer's Miller which reveals the familiarity of the kinde of debaat during the middle ages. Known by a variety of names-including altercatio, respuesta, and Streitgedicht -and dealing with a whole range of topics, the medieval debate frequently portrayed the conflict of youthful and elderly principals, for example in "The Parlement of the Thre Ages," and Robert Henrysson's "Ressonyng Betuix Aige and Yowthe." The prevalence of this otherwise almost extinct medieval kinde in Renaissance pastoral calls attention to the interchangeability of eclogue and debate forms throughout the middle ages.

An analysis of complete verse debates in this chapter empha

sizes the way habits of classical rhetoric and medieval dispu

tation affect the pastoral poet's practise and the reader's re

sponse. The formal structure of the verse debate is dualistic; it

is designed to present, though not to resolve, the conflict of

two opposing points of view. Such a structure is particularly

suited to articulate philosophical and mythical systems of

polarities. In the case of youth and age, the pastoral debate airs

not only the opposition of generic pastoral ideals, but also the

more concrete conflicts of generational strife, of identity crises

at both life stages, and of the self-contradictions experienced by the individual moving from one stage to the next.

As a consciously rhetorical design, the debate of youth and age also elucidates the way ideals are conditioned by their contexts. First, it shows how the principles and the reasoning processes of both speakers depend on their places in the life cycle. And second, repeated references to the landscape and weather of the natural setting subordinate the dialectical shifting of the weight of the argument to the oscillation of the diurnal and seasonal cycles. This framing of discourse generates a relativity of perspective consistent with the traditional rhetorician's prescription to look at all questions from both sides-in utramque partem -without coming to a final determination. The same relativity that Aristotle's Rhetoric teaches in its lengthy elaboration of the contrasting mantalities of youth and


old age emerges as a characteristic Renaissance habit of mind. It finds expression not only in literature but in the illusionistic feats of perspective painters, in Cartesian dualism, in Leibnitz' metaphysics of the point of view, and in the ethical scepticism of Montaigne, who chose a pair of balances for the emblem on his escutcheon.

Pastoral's yoking of idealistic, theme with relativistic structure typifies the Renaissance concept of fiction. Sidney declares that though he projects golden worlds, " ...the poet ... never affirmeth." In its very name, the genre of pastoral debate suggests this concordia discors. For all its suggestions of visionary utopianism and idyllic escape, "pastoral" can never evade the skeptical, searching and conflict-laden intellectuality of "debate." The most luscious of bowers and the most pious of homesteads are "places" of rhetoric-loci and topoi-as well as geography.

There is no more comprehensive compendium of pastoral dichotomies than The Shepheardes Calender. Here Spenser treats the debate of youth and age as the central feature of Arcadia. In "Februarie," he presents a strict reproduction of the medieval debat, and, without becoming repetitious, sounds variations of the paradigm in all eleven remaining eclogues. He unifies the whole collection by balancing the six eclogues of the old year against the six eclogues of the new. Spenser also vastly expands the antithetical possibilities of his genre. He tempers pastoral's allegorizing and mythologizing tendencies with a drive toward mimetic realism. He uses the interplay of utopian ideals to disclose the inner life of individuals at a particular stage of psychological development in a particular historical circumstance. The last chapter of this study asserts that Spenser molds the pastoral debate of youth and age into a forerunner of the modern Bildungsroman. By presenting a number of such debates, he dramatizes the conflicts of attitudes that complete within the mind of the young person suspended between childhood and majority. By placing those debates in a certain phased sequence, he allows the reader to experience the gradual reversal of perspective from youth to age that signals


the person's unconscious emergence into maturity. And by revealing "Immerito" as a central integrating consciousness who mediates between author, fictional characters and reader, Spenser illuminates the way the contrary energies and multiple personae of adolescence can coalesce into the unified identity of the adult self.


Despite the steady flow of scholarly studies on pastoral during the last twenty years, this particular topic merits further research. Discussion of pastoral works, like Judy Zahler Kronenfeld's 1970 Stanford Dissertation, "The Treatment of Pastoral Ideals in As You Like It: A Study of Traditional Renaissance Dichotomies" and Patrick Cullen's section on The Shepheardes Calender in Spenser, Marvell and Renaissance Pastoral (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970) have analysed individual examples of the pastoral debate of youth and age; and a number of writers have noted its recurrence as a "minor pastoral topos," e.g. Thomas Rosenmeyer, The Green Cabinet: Theocritus and the European Pastoral Lyric (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), p. 57. Hallett Smith has observed the larger significance of the convention, but with no more than a passing remark:

The conflict of youth and age is very common in the pastoral mode. It is simply another form of the central problem which makes pastoral-the problem of the values inherent in the good life. (Elizabethan Poetry [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952], p. 42).

My hypothesis that these pastoral "values inherent in the good life" are themselves conditioned by one's place in the life cycle, and that pastoral's thematic ideals are necessarily related to both stages of youth and age has been noticed only by one other student of the mode. In "The Aging Boy: Paradise and Parricide in Spenser's SC," Poetic Traditions of the English Renaissance, ed. Maynard Mack (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), pp. 25 ff, an essay that came to my attention after this study was completed, Harry Berger Jr. argues that youth and age have a special relation to the "Paradise Principle" that he sees generating all pastoral. His reading of "Februarie" and "Nouember" has several elements in common with that presented in chapters four and five of this study. But Berger makes no mention of the genre of debat, nor does he elaborate the connection between old age and pastoral in general. Recent criticism has concurred that a dialectical structure is common to most pastoral poetry. See Harold Tolliver, Pastoral Forms and Attitudes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), pp. 1-20, and Paul Alpers, "The Eclogue Tradition and the Nature of Pastoral," CE 34, 1972, pp. 353-371; also The Singer of The Eclogues: A Study of Virgilian Pastoral (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 97 ff. Yet although the word "debate" crops up frequently in the consideration of particular bucolic works, the term is used loosely rather than in reference to a specific genre. To my knowledge there have been no studies of the pastoral debate per se.

The Arte of English Poesie, ed. Gladys Doidge Wilcock and Alice Walker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), Chapter XVIII, p. 38.


3 Alexander Pope, Guardian #40 (1713) in The Tatler and The Guardian Complete in One Volume (Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo & Co., 1880), p. 59. Samuel Johnson, "Pastoral Poetry I," Rambler #36, July 21, 1750, in Eighteenth Century Critical Essays, ed. Scott Elledge (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1961), 11, 579.

4 William Empson, Some Versions of Pastoral (London, 1935; rpt. New York: New Directions, 1960). See also, W. W. Greg, Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (London: Sidgewick and Jackson, Ltd., 1906. rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1959), p. 417:

It cannot be too emphatically laid down that there is and can be no such thing as a "theory" of pastoral ... pastoral is not capable of definition by reference to any essential quality; whence it follows that any theory of pastoral is not a theory of pastoral as it exists, but as the critic imagines that it ought to exist. "Everything is what it is, and not another thing," and pastoral is what the writers of pastoral have made it.

This empiricist dogma accounts for the weakness of Greg's still standard reference work on pastoral. Rather than a history of a tradition unified by some idea, it is a mere chronicle of particular works selected and described because they happen to include references to shepherds. When he insists on the tautology that pastoral is nothing but what poets have made of it, Greg ignores the fact that a literary convention is not the fabrication of later scholars but a pattern that the poet chooses before starting to compose.

I The Prose Works of Sir Phillip Sidney, ed. Albert Feuillerat (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962), 111, 8.

1 As You Like It, 1, i, I 11. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. George Lyman Kittredge (Boston: Ginn & Co.). All later citations are to this edition. To clarify the often-blurred distinction between the better world of pastoral escape-the green world-and the better world of the work of art that imaginatively represents this green world, see Harry Berger, "The Renaissance Imagination: Second World and Green World," CR, IX, 1965, pp. 36-79.

7 On Sidney's hostility to pastoral ideals, see chapter four, below, and David Kalstone, Sidney's Poetry: Contexts and Interpretations (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 9-40.

11 "Defence of Poesie," Prose Works, 111, 15.

9 In English Pastoral Poetry from its Beginnings to Marvell, ed. Frank Kermode (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1952), p. 179.

10 Passages from Theocritus, Idyll 5, 45-7; Vergil, "Eclogue 10," 42-3, and Milton, Comus, 2, 194, cited by Ellen Zetzel Lambert, Placing Sorrow: A Study of the Pastoral Elegy Convention from Theocritus to Milton (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976), p. xiv.

11 Christopher Marlowe, "The Passionate Sheepheard to his Love," in England's Helicon, ed. H. E. Rollins (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935), 1, 184.

12 "Defence of Poesie," Prose Works, 111, 22.

13 The approach to pastoral as an idealizing and critical literary mode has recently been questioned by more than one scholar. Paul Alpers has warned us not to allow philosophical analysis to obscure our apprecation of "the verve of the poetry," and he


has urged us to remember that the poet and poetry itself is the central pastoral theme. See "The Eclogue Tradition. p. 363 and Singer, pp. 6 f. True, and worth repeating, yet the study of pastoral ideals is necessary to elucidate obscure designs and ambiguous logic in major literary works, as has been demonstrated by Cullen and Kronenfeld. Others have questioned the idealizing tendency of pastoral by claiming that the mode is defined by certain stock motifs such as the locus amoenus or the shepherd. (See Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard Trask [New York: Pantheon Books, 19531, p. 187, and Kronenfeld's nominalistic introduction). But what explains the persistence of these topoi is their identification with perennial human states and desires. Pastoral conventions project thematic ideals-Smith's "values inherent in the good life--and by so doing draw together a timeless work of the collective imagination. W. W. Greg, one of the least philosophically-oriented of pastoral's critics, noted the connection of "pastoral" and "ideal."

I noticed that I have used the expression "pastoral ideal," and the phrase, which comes naturally to the mind in connexion with this form of literature, may supply us with a useful hint. It reminds us, namely that the quality of pastoralism is not determined by the fortuitous occurrence of certain characters but by the fact of the pieces in question being based more or less evidently upon a philosophical conception. (Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama, pp. 2-3.)

14 A. 0. Lovejoy and George Boas, Primitivism and Related Ideas in Antiquity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1935; rpt. 1965), p. ix.

15 This general description of pastoral ideals requires immediate qualification. Throughout the history of the genre, the meaning of pastoral's norm of "nature" has been complicated by variations and discrepancies. "Nature," like "primitive," can have connotations both negative and positive, can be red in tooth and claw as well as Eclenically serene. Pastoralists often mock or reject the ideals of primitivism as soon as they invoke them. Sometimes they praise nature only insofar as it resembles art. Usually, the poet's vision of nature rather than nature itself constitutes the pastoral ideal. See Edward William Tayler, Nature and Art in Renaissance Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964).

16 "The Lady of the May," Prose Works, 11, i, 335. Seen as a projection of ideals of the good life, pastoral is a kind of utopia. But the divergence between the two genres are as instructive as their similarities. Utopia is a philosophical treatise clothed in a literary fantasy. Pastoral is literature with a philosophical substratum. Literary ideals are conveyed and held differently from philosophical ones, despite Sidney's repeated assertions to the contrary in his Defense. The names of the genres themselves hint at the nature of the contrast: "utopia" is technical and theoretical; it suggests street plans and tours with official guides. "Pastoral" is melodious and concrete; it evokes "pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers." Utopia is set in the future tense or the conditional mood. it argues for the way things shall or should be. Arcadia is set in the past; it sings of the way things were before the present decline. The pastoralist calls us back to Eden, to the place where we once belonged; and he bases his appeal on the submerged power of nostalgia. See Laurance Lerner, The Uses of Nostalgia: Studies in Pastoral Poetry [New York: Schocken Books, 19721, pp. 41-63).

17 Judy Zahler Kronenfeld, pp. 239-279; Paul Alpers, "The Eclogue Tradition. pp. 352-3; Patrick Cullen, pp. 1-29.


18 see Samuel Johnson, "Pastoral Poetry I," in Rambler #36 July 21, 1750, Eighteenth Century Critical Essays, 11, 579 and Some Versions of Pastoral, pp. 85-112.

19 Thomas Rosenmeyer, The Green Cabinet: Theocritus and the European Pastoral Lyric (Berkeley: U. of Cal. Press, 1969), pp. 58-9.

20 My assumption here that a person's biological state of life conditions his ethical ideals, his philosophical stance and his social role reflects observations about the Ages of Man so common throughout the western tradition and in primitive cultures that anthropologists speak of them as universals. However, some of the specific traits I attribute to childhood, youth, adulthood and old age, have been suggested by the developmental psychology of Erik Erikson and may therefore be time and culture bound. Mitigating this proviso is the fact that Erikson based a number of his studies of the life cycle on Renaissance literary and historical characters-in particular Hamlet and Martin Luther.

21 Subhir Kakar, "The Human Life Cycle: The Traditional Hindu View and the Psychology of Erik H. Erikson," Philosophy of East and West, XVIII: 3 (1968).

12 Hallet Smith, "Pastoral Poetry" in Elizabethan Poetry (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), pp. 4-13; also Kronenfeld, pp. 13-54.

23 Hans v.d. Gabelentz, Die Lebensalter u.d. Menschliche Leben in Tiergestalt (Berlin, 1938), p. 8; Samuel C. Chew, This Strange Eventful History (New Haven and London, 1962).

24 For this reason medieval schemata of the ages of man associate each of the stages with a different animal.

25 Andre Varagnac, Civilisation Traditionelle et les Genres de Vic (Paris: Editions Andre Michel, 1948).

26 S. N. Eisenstadt, "Archetypal Patterns of Youth," in Youth: Change and Challenge, ed. Erik H. Erikson (N. Y.: Basic Books, 1963), p. 29.

27 Such emphasis on the life cycle is part of traditional culture's concern with unifying the individual's life with that of others in the tribe as well as with the observed life of the universe around him. Primitive life, according to Mircea Eliade is "the ceaseless repetition of gestures initiated by others." The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Pantheon, 1954), p. 5.

28 Support and documentation for the material in the summaries of the next five chapters are omitted here, but are found later.