Short, usually pastoral, poem in the form of a dialogue or soliloquy (see pastoral). The eclogue as a pastoral form first appeared in the idylls of Theocritus, was adopted by Virgil, and was revived in the Renaissance by Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Edmund Spenser's Shepheardes Calender, a series of 12 eclogues, was the first outstanding pastoral poem in English. Eighteenth-century English poets used the eclogue for ironic verse on nonpastoral subjects. Since then a distinction has been made between eclogue and pastoral, with eclogue referring only to the dialogue or soliloquy form.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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