Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
September 19th, 2016
Episode 652 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 19, 2016 is: eclogue \ECK-log\ noun : a poem in which shepherds converse Examples: Modern critics tend to have little tolerance for the idealized world of the old eclogues, in which poverty is bathed in golden light. "[Matt] Pavelich begins his novel with an excerpt from W. H. Auden's Pulitzer Prize-winning poem, 'Age of Anxiety.' Auden's is a fascinating and hair-raisingecloguethat affects the novel throughout its long journey." — The Missoula (Montana) Independent, 27 May 2004 Did you know? Although the eclogue appears in the Idylls of the Greek poet Theocritus, it was the 10 Eclogues (or Bucolics) of the Roman poet Virgil that gave us the word eclogue. (The Latin title Eclogae literally means "selections.") The eclogue was popular in the Renaissance and through the 17th century, when less formal eclogues were written. The poems traditionally depicted rural life as free from the complexity and corruption of more citified realms. The eclogue fell out of favor when the poets of the Romantic period rebelled against the artificiality of the pastoral. In more modern times, though, the term eclogue has been applied to pastoral poems involving the conversations of people other than shepherds, often with heavy doses of irony.