For the women writers of early modern England, the pastoral mode held undeniable appeal. As Louis Montrose has shown, Queen Elizabeth I eagerly joined in the creation of a pastoral persona through calculated references to herself as a milkmaid with a pail on her arm in her speeches to Parliament in 1576 and 1586. Her courtier poets, including Mary Sidney, countess of Pembroke, quickly responded with their own pastorals, which on the surface might seem encomiastic, but often masked subtle strategies, whereby (according to The Arte of English Poesie) they might “insinuate and glaunce at greater matters.” That pastoral was regarded as the humblest of literary forms actually served as an advantage to women, who were largely excluded from composing in the more public genres of heroic poetry, but the pastoral was also paradoxically viewed as an elite and refined discourse, in which (in the words of Drayton) “the most High, and Noble Matters of the World may be shaddowed … and for certaine sometimes are.” 1