idyl (Īˈdəl) [key], short poem. The ancient idyls, especially those of Bion and Moschus, were intended as little selections in the style of such longer poems as elegies or epics. There are 10 famous idyls by the Greek Theocritus, and, since some of them dealt with pastoral or rural scenes, the term idyl came to be restricted to gently flowing, artistic pieces on rural subjects. In the 19th cent., Alfred Tennyson in his Idylls of the King used the term rather in its looser original sense than in the later restricted pastoral meaning. For idyls in their bucolic sense, see pastoral.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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