The character, Thyrsis, was a shepherd in Virgil's Seventh Eclogue, who lost a singing match against Corydon. The implication that Clough was a loser is hardly fair, given that he is thought by many to have been one of the greatest Nineteenth Century poets.
Arnold's decision to imitate a Latin pastoral is ironic in that Clough was best known for The Bothie, subtitled 'a long-vacation pastoral': a thoroughly modern poem which broke all the rules of classical pastoral poetry.
Arnold's poem is remembered above all for its lines describing the view of Oxford from Boars Hill: "And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,/ She needs not June for beauty's heightening". Portions of it also appear in An Oxford Elegy by Ralph Vaughan Williams.