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De Carmine Pastorali (1684)   By: (1621-1687)

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René Rapin’s De Carmine Pastorali, published in 1684, is a remarkable work that combines multiple genres, and a must-read for those interested in pastoral poetry and classical literature. Rapin, a renowned French Jesuit scholar and poet, paints a vivid picture of rural life and shepherdess romance with his elegant and refined writing style.

The book follows the tradition of ancient Greek and Roman pastoral poetry, presenting a series of eclogues that depict the idyllic lives of shepherds and shepherdesses in a harmonious natural setting. These poems, while infused with a sense of nostalgia for a simpler way of life, also serve as allegories for the complexities of human emotions and relationships.

What distinguishes De Carmine Pastorali is Rapin’s skillful execution of poetic devices and his profound knowledge of classical literature. He masterfully combines elements of ancient pastoral poetry, epic tales, and love songs into his eclogues, creating a rich and multifaceted literary work. Each poem transports the reader to a different setting, evoking vivid images of pastoral landscapes, shepherds playing musical instruments, and tender moments of courtship.

Furthermore, Rapin’s careful attention to detail and his mastery of language make De Carmine Pastorali an immersive and delightful read. His use of Latin verse and elegant rhymes showcase his poetic prowess, while his ability to capture the essence of emotions through lyrical expression is both captivating and enchanting. His evocative descriptions of nature and the pastoral lifestyle allow readers to experience the beauty and tranquility of this idyllic world.

While the book may present a challenge to readers unfamiliar with classical literature and poetry, the reward for engaging with the text is worth the effort. Rapin’s depth of knowledge and his ability to seamlessly blend various literary traditions produce a unique and intellectually stimulating reading experience. One can appreciate the artistry of his verse, as well as the underlying thematic concerns of love, desire, and the pursuit of happiness.

However, it is important to note that De Carmine Pastorali does adhere to the conventions and ideals of its time. The gender roles and societal expectations presented are rooted in the patriarchal values of the 17th century. While Rapin's poetic skill and storytelling are undeniable, some readers may find it necessary to critically engage with these aspects from a modern perspective.

In conclusion, René Rapin’s De Carmine Pastorali is an exquisite example of pastoral poetry that seamlessly combines classical literary traditions with Rapin's own creative ingenuity. Through his poetic virtuosity, Rapin transports readers to an enchanting world of shepherds and shepherdesses, exploring themes of love, nature, and the human condition. Although it may require some familiarity with classical literature, this book rewards readers with its poetic beauty, deep insights, and timeless depiction of pastoral life.

First Page:

Series Two: Essays on Poetry

No. 3

Rapin's De Carmine Pastorali , prefixed to Thomas Creech's translation of the Idylliums of Theocritus (1684)

With an Introduction by J.E. Congleton and a Bibliographical Note

The Augustan Reprint Society July, 1947 Price: 75c


RICHARD C. BOYS, University of Michigan EDWARD NILES HOOKER, University of California, Los Angeles H.T. SWEDENBERG, JR., University of California, Los Angeles


EMMETT L. AVERY, State College of Washington LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, University of Michigan BENJAMIN BOYCE, University of Nebraska CLEANTH BROOKS, Louisiana State University JAMES L. CLIFFORD, Columbia University ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, University of Chicago SAMUEL H. MONK, University of Minnesota JAMES SUTHERLAND, Queen Mary College, London

Lithoprinted from copy supplied by author by Edwards Brothers, Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. 1947


Recent students of criticism have usually placed Rapin in the School of Sense. In fact Rapin clearly denominates himself a member of that school... Continue reading book >>

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