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Short, usually pastoral, poem in the form of a dialogue or soliloquy (seepastoral). 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. For the full entry on eclogue, visit Britannica.com.