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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Poussin’s ‘Shepherds of Arcadia’
By Charles Blanc (1813–1882)
 
From ‘Grammar of Painting and Engraving’

IN a wide, heavily wooded country, the sojourning-place of that happiness sung by the poets, some peasants have discovered a tomb hidden by a thicket of trees, and bearing this brief inscription: “Et in Arcadia ego” (I too lived in Arcadia). These words, issuing from the tomb, sadden their faces, and the smiles die upon their lips. A young girl, carelessly leaning upon the shoulder of her lover, seems to listen, mute and pensive, to this salutation from the dead. The thought of death has also plunged into reverie a youth who leans over the tomb with bowed head, while the oldest shepherd points out the inscription he has just discovered. The landscape that completes this quiet picture shows reddened leaves upon arid rocks; hillocks that melt in the vague horizon, and in the distance, something ill-defined that resembles the sea. The sublime in this painting is that which we cannot see; it is the thought that hovers over it, the unexpected emotion that fills the soul of the spectator, transported suddenly beyond the tomb into the infinite unknown.  1
 
 
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