Satyrs in the Top Paddock: Metaphysical Pastoral in Australian Poetry


This essay offers a consideration of what I take to be the convention of 'metaphysical' pastoral in Australian poetry, together with some speculation as to its relationship to the seemingly opponent 'nationalist' version. I say 'convention' because I am wary of instrumentally constructed notions of 'tradition' that imply straightforward lines of descent (or ascent). Pastoral is anything but straightforward, as most attempts to define it as a genre show. For my purposes here, and with awareness of the risk of confusing things further, I do wish to insist that pastoral poetry is not simply landscape poetry, however hazy any ultimate distinctions might be. To be properly pastoral a work must invoke the concept of the locus amoenus; it will always, I believe, address this as a central issue.

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Published 1 May 1992 in Volume 15 No. 3. Subjects: Australian culture, Australian poetry, Bush, Idealism, Metaphysics, Myths & legends, Pastoral poetry, Vision School.

Cite as: Kirkpatrick, Peter. ‘Satyrs in the Top Paddock: Metaphysical Pastoral in Australian Poetry.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 15, no. 3, 1992, doi: 10.20314/als.0e980752f7.