The dictionary site goes on to explain these pastoral poems, of Greek and Roman origin, thus: "the eclogue traditionally depicted rural life as free from the complexity and corruption of more citified realms. The poets of the Romantic period rebelled against the artificiality of the older pastoral, and the eclogue fell out of favor."
Well, I for one think it's high time we brought back the eclogue. Why wouldn't we want to hear more from our shepherds? God knows we hear more than enough from everyone else. Politicians? Too much. Celebrities? Way too much. It's just blah blah blah all the time. I want to hear less blah and more ba-a-a.
Since I don't know any shepherds personally, I thought I'd just make up my own eclogue for your reading pleasure. Just trying to get the ball rolling, as it were. The problem is that since I don't know any shepherds, I don't know what they talk about. Wolves? The weather? Brucellosis? Self-employment tax?
So my first attempt turned out to be weak; it did not even have any dialogue:
There once was a girl named Bo Peep
Inordinately fond of her sheep
While out camping in tents
(Not in Biblical sense)
She would bring several over to sleep
I rolled up my sleeves and knuckled down for my second attempt. This was better, as it had dialogue and romance, but there's just one shepherd.
"Sheep, With Me"
by Frederick Key
Young Shepherd Brown was just hanging around
Doing all the stuff shepherds must do
When down from the hill came a lassie named Jill
From the shop where she bought gum to chew
Jill cried out “A crook!” but he said, “I’m no schnook!”
She explained, “I meant that which you bear.”
“It’s for hooking my sheep; my job is to keep
All these fluffy chaps under my care.”
He said, “You’re adorable!” She said, “They’re deplorable!
Those animals send up a stink!
They smell worse than a pig! They’re so woolly and big!”
He said, “Yeah, but in the rain they all shrink.”
Then a goatherd named Paul who was handsome and tall
Came along with his cheerful goat flock
Paul said, “Hi there, toots! Ain’t my goats got the cutes?
There’s no question that goats really rock.”
Jill, looking quite pumped, admired the jump
In the goats’ cheerful little-goat prance
But Brown, feeling quite ill, said, “Lookie here, Jill!
All I’m saying is give sheep a chance!”
But Jill coddled and oohed and petted and cooed
It looked like a pastoral goat painting
So Brown started to plot, as he thought that Paul got
Those cute little goats best known for fainting
At a signal from Brown his sheep started to drown
Out the cooing with horrible shouts
In an instant, pell-mell, all the fainting goats fell
Every goat was completely knocked out
Brown cried out, “They’re dead! It’s all his fault!” he said
“That guy is a terrible herder!”
But Jill shouted, “No joke! Your sheep made them all croak!
I believe you’re the one that caused murder!”
Then Jill, clinging to Paul, continued to bawl
As they left Shepherd Brown with his horde
Jill and Paul ran away and eloped later that day
And pledged fealty until they got bored
Though poor Brown’s heart was hurt, he learned best not to flirt
With a woman who disliked his sheep
With this sad abjuration there came one consolation
It was all of Paul’s goats he would keep
Moral: Two goats in the hand are worth a bird in a bush.
I don't know; maybe I just don't understand sheep.