How is “The Scholar Gipsy” a pastoral elegy?
Introduction: “The Scholar Gipsy” (1853) is a well-known pastoral elegy composed by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888). The term pastoral has been derived from the Latin word ‘pastor’ which means shepherd. Pastoral elegy depicts the day-to-day life of a shepherd or common life.
“The Scholar Gipsy” as a pastoral elegy
It has fulfilled the conditions to be a well formatted pastoral elegy because of its characteristic features which are presented here.
Pastoral setting: “The Scholar Gipsy” has been created with a pastoral setting which refers to a place. Arnold creates a rural setting that is the countryside of Oxford. Throwing the power of imagination, the poet has made it more beautiful, and more impressive. We find that the poet says:
“Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls
And the grave Granvil did the tale inscribe”
Reference of shepherd: A pastoral elegy deals with the life of a shepherd. So, in “The Scholar Gipsy”, Arnold addresses his friend as a shepherd. Here Arnold has not identified himself as a shepherd like other pastoral elegies. Thus, the poem fulfils one of the fundamental features of an elegy.
Presence of nature: Nature is inevitable for an elegiac poem because it plays a vital role. Nature takes the form which needs to expose. The depiction of hills, the river Thames, the flowery field and so on are strong evidence of the presence of nature.
Conclusion: To sum up, it is transparent that “The Scholar Gipsy” possess all the characteristic features of a pastoral elegy. The poem is somewhat different from the conventional type of elegy.