Alpers, Paul. What is Pastoral? Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Empson, William. Some Versions of Pastoral. New York: New Directions, 1968.
PASTOURELLE From the French, meaning "shepherdess," a pastourelle is a medieval lyric in a bucolic context. It is a short lyric dialogue in which a gallant, knight, or (sometimes) clerk (often coinciding with the narrating voice) attempts to seduce a shepherdess. The outcome varies, sometimes even veering toward rape. The pastourelle was popular because of the battle of wits between the two characters and the mixture of narrative poetry, contrasto, and amorous complaint, with some borrowings from popular art forms such as the ballad. It is often an enjoyment at the expense of the shepherds, whose role is usually comic.
The origin of the pastourelle is uncertain, though it flourished in Provençal between the 12th and 14th centuries. The genre includes some notable examples in English and Welsh, but was most popular in late-medieval Scotland. An outstanding 15th-century example is Robene and Makyne by Robert Henryson. See also pastoral.
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