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

written by "Creech, Thomas, 1659-1700"
...and such measures: for this is the method of Nature in all her works, from imperfect and rude beginnings things take their first rise, and afterwards by fit and apposite additions are polish’t, and brought to perfection: such were the Verses which heretofore the Italian Sheapards and Plough-men, as Virgil says, sported amongst themselves. Italian Plough-men sprung from antient Troy Did sport unpolish’t Rhymes—— Lucretius in his Fifth Book de Natura Rerum, says, that Sheapards were first taught by the rushing of soft Breezes amongst the Canes to blow their Reeds, and so by degrees to put their Songs in tune. For Whilst soft Evening Gales blew or’e the Plains And shook the sounding Reeds, they taught the Swains, And thus the Pipe was fram’d, and tuneful Reed, And whilst the Flocks did then securely feed, The harmless Sheapards tun’d their Pipes to Love, And Amaryllis name fill’d every Grove. 9 From all which tis very plain that Poetry began in those days, when Sheapards took up their employment: to this agrees Donatus in his Life of Virgil, and Pontanus in his Fifth Book of Stars, as appears by these Verses. Here underneath a shade by purling Springs The Sheapards Dance, whilst sweet Amyntas sings; Thus first the new found Pipe was tun’d to Love, And Plough-men taught their Sweet hearts to the Grove, Thus the Fescennine jests when they sang harvest-home, and then too the Grape gatherers and Reapers Songs began, an elegant example of which we have in the Tenth Idyllium of Theocritus. From this birth, as it were, of Poetry, Verse began to grow up to greater matters; For from the common discourse of Plough-men and Sheapards, first Comedy, that Mistress of a private Life, next Tragedy, and then Epick Poetry which is lofty and Heroical arrose, This Maximus Tyrius confirms in his Twenty first dissertation, where he tells us that Plough-men just comeing from their work, and scarce cleansed from the filth...

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