A form of poetry
, usually a short pastoral
scene. The term originates with Theocritus
of Syracuse (fl. c. 300 BCE), whose poems are all called Idylls. But the Greek is eidúllion
, diminutive of eîdos
'shape, scene', and does not specifically refer to nymph
s or shepherd
s. Theocritus himself was quite varied, but the Theocritean scenes most imitated by later writers (from Virgil
) were the bucolic
ones featuring rushing brooks and simple flutes and forlorn lovers looking after goat
Virgil's Eclogues and Milton's lament Lycidas can be considered true idylls. Tennyson's epic on King Arthur, though titled Idylls of the King, is not idyllic in the traditional sense. The word idyllic has come to mean belonging to a never-never world of bliss in the countryside.
The word has been used outside poetry: Wagner wrote his Siegfried idyll for the birthday of his wife Cosima.