The Blue Tree By Rick Bass

Decent Essays
The pastoral tradition is the literary celebration of life among nature -- whether it is on a farm, in the English countryside, or deep within a forest -- and stretches back to the time of Virgil in ancient Rome and through the works of William Wordsworth in the 18th century to contemporary writer Rick Bass’ short stories. Bass carries on the pastoral legacy established by his predecessors through his admiration for the pastoral lifestyle involving physical labor and specialized knowledge, his establishment of both fear and beauty as essential elements of the pastoral experience, and his skillful use of memorable pastoral moments.
One of the principle tenets of the pastoral tradition is the ardently expressed admiration for the unique skills, knowledge and backbreaking labor required by
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Virgil emphasizes the skills of “how to take care of cattle and see to their breeding;/Knowing the proper way to foster the bees,” immediately establishing specialized knowledge as essential to and one of the primary focuses pastoral life. Rick Bass’ story “The Blue Tree” echoes this sentiment; the work’s main character, Wilson, wants his two daughters “to know everything about logging, and the forest and living off the land.” He also expresses pride that “both can start a fire with a bow drill, can distill drinking water from the dew. They know the names and calls of birds, and understand what is meant by each song” (Bass 361). The presence of the emphasis on knowledge and skills relating to the natural world in both Virgil and Bass’s writings illustrate its importance through millennia of pastoral works. Physical labor also holds a prominent place in the themes of pastoral works both ancient and modern. For instance, stating that no matter what, “there is always more work to be done,” Virgil reverently describes the farmer dutifully working his field; as “golden Ceres
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