One of the most popular genres in the English Renaissance was the pastoral. Both poets of renown and writers of occasional verse composed poems extolling the life of simple shepherds playing their pipes in the idyllic rural surroundings commonly known as Arcadia. Delight, however, never lasts long. Pastoral poetry constantly oscillates between desire for Arcadian perfection, often embodied in the pastoral maiden, and a crippling sense of loss, absence and despair. Seeking to unlock the secret of Arcadia's appeal, analyze the forms which the Renaissance Arcadia takes, and penetrate the causes of its frequent collapse, this study attempts a unique theoretical combination of psychoanalytical and historical insights. The study combines a primarily Lacanian understanding of desire and the effect of art with a detailed consideration of the intellectual and sociopolitical context of pastoral writing. Following a theoretical introduction, the book begins with an analysis of Spenser's major pastoral works, continues with the comprehensive and representative Elizabethan anthology Englands Helicon, and concludes with the pastoral writings of Andrew Marvell.