The pastoral tradition between Edmund Spenser and John Milton's "Lycidas" is often overlooked; this new volume in the Tudor and Stuart Texts series begins to fill that gap by providing fully annotated and modernised texts of two pastoral collections from the reign of James I. The Shepherd's Pipe, consisting of eclogues by William Browne, Christopher Brooke, John Davies of Hereford, and George Wither, has not been published in its entirety since 1614. Wither's Shepherd's Hunting, a companion to Shepherd's Pipe published the following year, was written while Wither was imprisoned for satiric attacks on significant courtiers. The eclogues in these volumes consider such matters as love, the poetic vocation, and political justice, and frequently adopt a satiric stance in relation to their subject. In Shepherd's Hunting the pastoral poet is banished from the traditional idyllic landscape and cast into the new role of hunter. The two collections are also noteworthy for their status as coterie poems; in pastoral guise the various authors appear in each other's poems, creating a dynamic dialogue in the process. This volume, designed to be accessible for students, also provides a solid text for the use of scholars in the field. It provides an opportunity for both to understand better the genre of pastoral poetry as it developed in the early modern period.
James Doelman is a lecturer in the Department of English at McMaster University. He has published articles on George Wither, King James, and religious verse of early Stuart England.