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Idyll (Idyl) Definition

A short poem concerning shepherd life or portraying a harmonious version of rural existence. Idylls are particularly associated with the Greek poet Theocritus. See also eclogue and pastoral.

Additionally, an idyll is a type of poem that focuses on the normal routines of normal people in a rural setting. Such poems are named for a collection of short poems on a said subject by the ancient Greek poet Theocritus, which were contrasted with epic poems such as the Iliad and the Odyssey that focused on the extraordinary deeds of gods and heroes. Generally speaking, a poem is considered to be an idyll so long as it is focused on a suitable subject. This is why the term can encompass the poems of Theocritus, the poems of the ancient Greek poets who followed in his footsteps, and a wide range of other poems from other poets from other cultures. However, an idyll is also sometimes used to refer to a specific form of court entertainment in Baroque period France, which consisted of a pastoral poem paired with music, dancing, and even singing. 


Poetry that either depicts a peaceful, idealized country scene or a long poem telling a story about heroes of a bye gone age.

Idyll (Idyl) Poem Example

Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.


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