Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




T.H. Cain




This thesis surveys the nature of imitation in the pastoral genre by examining Spenser's The Shepheardes Calender and a Canadian poem which overtly descends from it--James Reaney's A Suit of Nettles. The Introduction establishes the chronological evolution of pastoral by focusing on Theocritus's Idylls, Virgil's Eclogues and Mantuan's Adulescentia as generic touchstones. It also outlines briefly the Renaissance distinction between "Arcadian" and "Mantuanesque" pastoral. Chapter One deals with the extent to which each of The Shepheardes Calender and A Suit of Nettles specifically imitates its pastoral predecessors from Theocritus through Spenser. Chapter Two examines the degree of social engagement: while Spenser clearly comments on or even satirizes specific contemporary events and people in the world's eye--such as the French marriage question--in The Shepheardes Calender, Reaney--under the influence of Northrop Frye--seems to be concerned with drawing the reader's attention to general flaws he observes in twentieth-century Canadian culture. Finally, Chapter Three addresses the poetic craftsmanship of Spenser and Reaney by paying particular attention to their respective April eclogues through close technical analyses.

McMaster University Library

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