Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Shepheardes Calender
  IN this fift Æglogue, under the persons of two shepheards, Piers and Palinodie, be represented two formes of pastoures or ministers, or the Protestant and the Catholique: whose chiefe talke standeth in reasoning whether the life of the one must be like the other. With whom having shewed that it is daungerous to mainteine any felowship, or give too much credit to their colourable and feyned goodwill, he telleth him a tale of the Foxe, that by such a counterpoynt of craftines deceived and devoured the credulous Kidde.


  Pal.  Is not thilke the mery moneth of May,
When love lads masken in frsh aray?
How falles it then, we no merrier bene,
Ylike as others, girt in gawdy greene?
Our bloncket liveryes bene all to sadde        5
For thilke same season, when all is yeladd
With pleasaunce: the grownd with grasse, the wods
With greene leaves, the bushes with bloosming buds.
Yougthes folke now flocken in every where,
To gather may buskets and smelling brere:        10
And home they hasten the postes to dight,
And all the kirke pillours eare day light,
With hawthorne buds, and swete eglantine,
And girlonds of roses and sopps in wine.
Such merimake holy saints doth queme,        15
But we here sytten as drownd in a dreme.
  Piers.  For younkers, Palinode, such follies fitte,
But we tway bene men of elder witt.
  Pal.  Sicker, this morrowe, ne lenger agoe,
I sawe a shole of shepeheardes outgoe        20
With singing, and shouting, and jolly chere:
Before them yode a lusty tabrere,
That to the many a horne pype playd,
Whereto they dauncen eche one with his mayd.
To see those folkes make such jouysaunce,        25
Made my heart after the pype to daunce.
Tho to the greene wood they speeden hem all,
To fetchen home May with their musicall:
And home they bringen in a royall throne,
Crowned as king; and his queene attone        30
Was Lady Flora, on whom did attend
A fayre flocke of faeries, and a fresh bend
Of lovely nymphs. O that I were there,
To helpen the ladyes their maybush beare!
Ah, Piers! bene not thy teeth on edge, to thinke        35
How great sport they gaynen with little swinck?
  Piers.  Perdie, so farre am I from envie,
That their fondnesse inly I pitie.
Those faytours little regarden their charge,
While they, letting their sheepe runne at large,        40
Passen their time, that should be sparely spent,
In lustihede and wanton meryment.
Thilke same bene shepeheardes for the Devils stedde,
That playen while their flockes be unfedde.
Well is it seene, theyr sheepe bene not their owne,        45
That letten them runne at randon alone.
But they bene hyred for little pay
Of other, that caren as little as they
What fallen the flocke, so they han the fleece,
And get all the gayne, paying but a peece,        50
I muse what account both these will make,
The one for the hire which he doth take,
And thother for leaving his lords taske,
When great Pan account of shepeherdes shall aske.
  Pal.  Sicker; now I see thou speakest of spight,        55
All for thou lackest somedele their delight.
I (as I am) had rather be envied,
All were it of my foe, then fonly pitied:
And yet, if neede were, pitied would be,
Rather then other should scorne at me:        60
For pittied is mishappe that nas remedie,
But scorned bene dedes of fond foolerie.
What shoulden shepheards other things tend,
Then, sith their God his good does them send,
Reapen the fruite thereof, that is pleasure,        65
The while they here liven, at ease and leasure?
For when they bene dead, their good is ygoe,
They sleepen in rest, well as other moe.
Tho with them wends what they spent in cost,
But what they left behind them is lost.        70
Good is no good, but if it be spend:
God giveth good for none other end.
  Piers.  Ah, Palinodie! thou art a worldes child:
Who touches pitch mought needes be defilde.
But shepheards (as Algrind used to say)        75
Mought not live ylike as men of the laye:
With them it sits to care for their heire,
Enaunter their heritage doe impaire:
They must provide for meanes of maintenaunce,
And to continue their wont countenaunce.        80
But shepheard must walke another way,
Sike worldly sovenance he must foresay.
The sonne of his loines why should he regard
To leave enriched with that he hath spard?
Should not thilke God that gave him that good        85
Eke cherish his child, if in his wayes he stood?
For if he mislive in leudnes and lust,
Little bootes all the welth and the trust
That his father left by inheritaunce:
All will be soone wasted with misgovernaunce.        90
But through this, and other their miscreaunce,
They maken many a wrong chevisaunce,
Heaping up waves of welth and woe,
The floddes whereof shall them overflowe.
Sike mens follie I cannot compare        95
Better then to the apes folish care,
That is so enamoured of her young one,
(And yet, God wote, such cause hath she none)
That with her hard hold, and straight embracing,
She stoppeth the breath of her youngling.        100
So often times, when as good is meant,
Evil ensueth of wrong entent.
  The time was once, and may againe retorne,
(For ought may happen, that hath bene beforne)
When shepeheards had none inheritaunce,        105
Ne of land, nor fee in sufferaunce,
But what might arise of the bare sheepe,
(Were it more or lesse) which they did keepe.
Well ywis was it with shepheards thoe:
Nought having, nought feared they to forgoe.        110
For Pan himselfe was their inheritaunce,
And little them served for their mayntenaunce.
The shepheards God so wel them guided,
That of nought they were unprovided,
Butter enough, honye, milke, and whay,        115
And their flockes fleeces, them to araye.
But tract of time, and long prosperitie,
(That nource of vice, this of insolencie,)
Lulled the shepheards in such securitie,
That not content with loyall obeysaunce,        120
Some gan to gape for greedie governaunce,
And match them selfe with mighty potentates,
Lovers of lordship and troublers of states.
Tho gan shepheards swaines to looke a loft,
And leave to live hard, and learne to ligge soft:        125
Tho, under colour of shepeheards, somewhile
There crept in wolves, ful of fraude and guile,
That often devoured their owne sheepe,
And often the shepheards that did hem keepe.
This was the first sourse of shepheards sorowe,        130
That now nill be quitt with baile nor borrowe.
  Pal.  Three thinges to beare bene very burdenous,
But the fourth to forbeare is outragious:
Wemen that of loves longing once lust,
Hardly forbearen, but have it they must:        135
So when choler is inflamed with rage,
Wanting revenge, is hard to asswage:
And who can counsell a thristie soule,
With patience to forbeare the offred bowle?
But of all burdens that a man can beare,        140
Moste is, a fooles talke to beare and to heare.
I wene the geaunt has not such a weight,
That beares on his shoulders the heavens height.
Thou findest faulte where nys to be found,
And buildest strong warke upon a weake ground:        145
Thou raylest on right withouten reason,
And blamest hem much, for small encheason.
How shoulden shepheardes live, if not so?
What! should they pynen in payne and woe?
Nay saye I thereto, by my deare borrowe,        150
If I may rest, I nill live in sorrowe.
  Sorrowe ne neede be hastened on:
For he will come, without calling, anone.
While times enduren of tranquillitie,
Usen we freely our felicitie.        155
For when approchen the stormie stowres,
We mought with our shoulders beare of the sharpe showres.
And sooth to sayne, nought seemeth sike strife,
That shepheardes so witen ech others life,
And layen her faults the world beforne,        160
The while their foes done eache of hem scorne.
Let none mislike of that may not be mended:
So conteck soone by concord mought be ended.
  Piers.  Shepheard, I list none accordaunce make
With shepheard that does the right way forsake.        165
And of the twaine, if choice were to me,
Had lever my foe then my freend he be.
For what concord han light and darke sam?
Or what peace has the lion with the lambe?
Such faitors, when their false harts bene hidde,        170
Will doe as did the Foxe by the Kidde.
  Pal.  Now Piers, of felowship, tell us that saying:
For the ladde can keepe both our flocks from straying.
  Piers.  Thilke same Kidde (as I can well devise)
Was too very foolish and unwise.        175
For on a tyme in sommer season,
The Gate her dame, that had good reason,
Yode forth abroade unto the greene wood,
To brouze, or play, or what shee thought good.
But, for she had a motherly care        180
Of her young sonne, and wit to beware,
Shee set her youngling before her knee,
That was both fresh and lovely to see,
And full of favour as kidde mought be.
His vellet head began to shoote out,        185
And his wreathed horns gan newly sprout;
The blossomes of lust to bud did beginne,
And spring forth ranckly under his chinne.
‘My sonne,’ quoth she, (and with that gan weepe;
For carefull thoughts in her heart did creepe)        190
‘God blesse thee, poore orphane, as he mought me,
And send thee joy of thy jollitee.
Thy father,’ (that word she spake with payne;
For a sigh had nigh rent her heart in twaine)
‘Thy father, had he lived this day,        195
To see the braunche of his body displaie,
How would he have joyed at this sweete sight!
But ah! false Fortune such joy did him spight,
And cutte of hys dayes with untimely woe,
Betraying him into the traines of hys foe.        200
Now I, a waylfull widdowe behight,
Of my old age have this one delight,
To see thee succeede in thy fathers steade,
And florish in flowres of lustyhead:
For even so thy father his head upheld,        205
And so his hauty hornes did he weld.’
  Tho marking him with melting eyes,
A thrilling throbbe from her hart did aryse,
And interrupted all her other speache
With some old sorowe that made a newe breache:        210
Seemed shee sawe in the younglings face
The old lineaments of his fathers grace.
At last her solein silence she broke,
And gan his newe budded beard to stroke.
‘Kiddie,’ quoth shee, ‘thou kenst the great care        215
I have of thy health and thy welfare,
Which many wyld beastes liggen in waite
For to entrap in thy tender state:
But most the Foxe, maister of collusion;
For he has voued thy last confusion.        220
Forthy, my Kiddie, be ruld by mee,
And never give trust to his trecheree.
And if he chaunce come when I am abroade,
Sperre the yate fast, for feare of fraude;
Ne for all his worst, nor for his best,        225
Open the dore at his request.’
  So schooled the Gate her wanton sonne,
That answerd his mother, all should be done.
Tho went the pensife damme out of dore,
And chaunst to stomble at the threshold flore:        230
Her stombling steppe some what her amazed,
(For such as signes of ill luck bene dispraised)
Yet forth shee yode, thereat halfe aghast:
And kiddie the dore sperred after her fast.
It was not long after shee was gone,        235
But the false Foxe came to the dore anone:
Not as a foxe, for then he had be kend,
But all as a poore pedler he did wend,
Bearing a trusse of tryfles at hys backe,
As bells, and babes, and glasses, in hys packe.        240
A biggen he had got about his brayne,
For in his headpeace he felt a sore payne:
His hinder heele was wrapt in a clout,
For with great cold he had gotte the gout.
There at the dore he cast me downe hys pack,        245
And layd him downe, and groned, ‘Alack! alack!
Ah, deare Lord! and sweete Saint Charitee!
That some good body woulde once pitie mee!’
  Well heard Kiddie al this sore constraint,
And lengd to know the cause of his complaint:        250
Tho, creeping close behind the wickets clinck,
Prevelie he peeped out through a chinck:
Yet not so previlie but the Foxe him spyed:
For deceitfull meaning is double eyed.
  ‘Ah, good young maister!’ then gan he crye,        255
‘Jesus blesse that sweete face I espye,
And keepe your corpse from the carefull stounds
That in my carrion carcas abounds.’
  The Kidd, pittying hys heavinesse,
Asked the cause of his great distresse,        260
And also who and whence that he were.
  Tho he, that had well ycond his lere,
Thus medled his talke with many a teare:
‘Sicke, sicke, alas! and little lack of dead,
But I be relieved by your beastlyhead.        265
I am a poore sheepe, albe my coloure donne:
For with long traveile I am brent in the sonne.
And if that my grandsire me sayd be true,
Sicker, I am very sybbe to you:
So be your goodlihead doe not disdayne        270
The base kinred of so simple swaine.
Of mercye and favour then I you pray,
With your ayd to forstall my neere decay.’
  Tho out of his packe a glasse he tooke,
Wherein while Kiddie unwares did looke,        275
He was so enamored with the newell,
That nought he deemed deare for the jewell.
Tho opened he the dore, and in came
The false Foxe, as he were starke lame.
His tayle he clapt betwixt his legs twayne,        280
Lest he should be descried by his trayne.
  Being within, the Kidde made him good glee,
All for the love of the glasse he did see.
After his chere, the pedler can chat,
And tell many lesings of this and that,        285
And how he could shewe many a fine knack.
Tho shewed his ware and opened his packe,
All save a bell, which he left behind
In the basket for the Kidde to fynd.
Which when the Kidde stooped downe to catch,        290
He popt him in, and his basket did latch;
Ne stayed he once, the dore to make fast,
But ranne awaye with him in all hast.
  Home when the doubtfull damme had her hyde,
She mought see the dore stand open wyde.        295
All agast, lowdly she gan to call
Her Kidde; but he nould answere at all.
Tho on the flore she sawe the merchandise
Of which her sonne had sette to dere a prise.
What helpe? her Kidde shee knewe well was gone:        300
Shee weeped, and wayled, and made great mone.
Such end had the Kidde, for he nould warned be
Of craft coloured with simplicitie:
And such end, perdie, does all hem remayne
That of such falsers freendship bene fayne.        305
  Pal.  Truly, Piers, thou art beside thy wit,
Furthest fro the marke, weening it to hit.
Now I pray thee, lette me thy tale borrowe
For our Sir John to say to morrowe
At the kerke, when it is holliday:        310
For well he meanes, but little can say.
But and if foxes bene so crafty as so,
Much needeth all shepheards hem to knowe.
  Piers.  Of their falshode more could I recount:
But now the bright sunne gynneth to dismount;        315
And, for the deawie night now doth nye,
I hold it best for us home to hye.




  Thilke, this same moneth. It is applyed to the season of the moneth, when all menne delight them selves with pleasaunce of fieldes, and gardens, and garments.
  Bloncket liveries, gray coates.
  Yclad, arrayed. Y redoundeth, as before.
  In every where, a straunge, yet proper kind of speaking.
  Buskets, a diminutive, sc. little bushes of hauthorne.
  Kirke, church.
  Queme, please.
  A shole, a multitude; taken of fishe, whereof some going in great companies, are sayde to swimme in a shole.
  Yode, went.
  Jouyssance, joye.
  Swinck, labour.
  Inly, entirely.
  Faytours, vagabonds.
  Great Pan is Christ, the very God of all shepheards, which calleth himselfe the greate and good shepherd. The name is most rightly (me thinkes) applyed to him, for Pan signifieth all, or omnipotent, which is onely the Lord Jesus. And by that name (as I remember) he is called of Eusebius, in his fifte booke De Preparat. Evang.; who thereof telleth a proper storye to that purpose. Which story is first recorded of Plutarch, in his booke of the ceasing of oracles, and of Lavetere translated, in his booke of walking sprightes. Who sayth, that about the same time that our Lord suffered his most bitter passion for the redemtion of man, certein passengers, sayling from Italy to Cyprus and passing by certain iles called Paxæ, heard a voyce calling alowde ‘Thamus, Thamus!’ (now Thamus was the name of an Ægyptian, which was pilote of the ship) who, giving eare to the cry, was bidden, when he came to Palodes, to tel that the great Pan was dead: which he doubting to doe, yet for that when he came to Palodes, there sodeinly was such a calme of winde, that the shippe stoode still in the sea unmoved, he was forced to cry alowd, that Pan was dead: wherewithall there was heard suche piteous outcryes and dreadfull shriking, as hath not bene the like. By whych Pan, though of some be understoode the great Satanas, whose kingdome at that time was by Christ conquered, the gates of hell broken up, and death by death delivered to eternall death, (for at that time, as he sayth, all oracles surceased, and enchaunted spirits, that were wont to delude the people, thence-forth held theyr peace) and also at the demaund of the Emperoure Tiberius, who that Pan should be, answere was made him by the wisest and best learned, that it was the sonne of Mercurie and Penelope, yet I think it more properly meant of the death of Christ, the onely and very Pan, then suffering for his flock.
  I as I am seemeth to imitate the commen proverb, Malim invidere mihi omnes, quam miserescere.
  Nas is a syncope, for ne has, or has not: as nould for would not.
  Tho with them doth imitate the epitaphe of the ryotous king Sardanapalus, whych he caused to be written on his tombe in Greeke: which verses be thus translated by Tallie.
        ‘Hæc habui quæ edi, quæque exaturata libido
Hausit, at illa manent multa ac præclara relicta.’
Which may thus be turned into English.
        ‘All that I eate did I joye, and all that I greedily gorged:
As for those many goodly matters left I for others.’
Much like the epitaph of a good olde Erle of Devonshire, which, though much more wise-dome bewraieth then Sardanapalus, yet hath a smacke of his sensuall delights and beastlinesse. The rhymes be these:
          ‘Ho, ho! who lies here?
I the good Erle of Devonshere,
And Maulde my wife, that was ful deare:
We lived together lv. yeare.
  That we spent, we had:
  That we gave, we have:
  That we lefte, we lost.’
  Algrind, the name of a shepheard.
  Men of the lay, lay men.
  Enaunter, least that.
  Sovenaunce, remembraunce.
  Miscreaunce, despeire, or misbeliefe.
  Chevisaunce, sometime of Chaucer used for gaine: sometime of other for spoyle, or bootie, or enterprise, and sometime for chiefdome.
  Pan himselfe, God: according as is sayd in Deuteronomie, that, in division of the lande of Canaan, to the tribe of Levie no portion of heritage should bee allotted, for GOD himselfe was their inheritaunce.
  Some gan, meant of the Pope, and his Anti-christian prelates, which usurpe a tyrannical dominion in the Churche, and with Peters counterfet keyes open a wide gate to al wickednesse and insolent government. Nought here spoken, as of purpose to deny fatherly rule and godly governaunce (as some malitiously of late have done, to the great unreste and hinderaunce of the Churche) but to displaye the pride and disorder of such as, in steede of feeding their sheepe, indeede feede of theyr sheepe.
  Sourse, welspring and originall.
  Borrowe, pledge or suertie.
  The geaunte is the greate Atlas, whom the poetes feign to be a huge geaunt, that beareth Heaven on his shoulders: being in deede a merveilous highe mountaine in Mauritania, that now is Barbarie, which, to mans seeming, perceth the cloudes, and seemeth to touch the heavens. Other thinke, and they not amisse, that this fable was meant of one Atlas, king of the same countrye, (of whome may bee, that hil had his denomination) brother to Prometheus, who (as the Grekes say) did first fynd out the hidden courses of the starres, by an excellent imagination: wherefore the poetes feigned, that he susteyned the firmament on hys shoulders. Many other conjectures needelesse be told hereof.
  Warke, worke.
  Encheason, cause, occasion.
  Deare borow, that is our Saviour, the commen pledge of all mens debts to death.
  Wyten, blame.
  Nought seemeth, is unseemely.
  Conteck, strife, contention.
  Her, theyr, as useth Chaucer.
  Han, for have.
  Sam, together.
  This tale is much like to that in Æsops fables, but the catastrophe and end is farre different. By the Kidde may be understoode the simple sorte of the faythfull and true Christians. By hys dame, Christe, that hath alreadie with carefull watchewords (as heere doth the gote) warned his little ones, to beware of such doubling deceit. By the Foxe, the false and faithlesse Papistes, to whom is no credit to be given, nor felowshippe to be used.
  The Gate, the Gote: northernely spoken, to turne O into A.
  Yode, went: afforesayd.
  She set, a figure called Fictio, which useth to attribute reasonable actions and speaches to unreasonable creatures.
  The bloosmes of lust be the young and mossie heares, which then beginne to sproute and shoote foorth, when lustfull heate beginneth to kindle.
  And with, a very poetical [Greek].
  Orphane, a youngling or pupill, that needeth a tutour and governour.
  That word, a patheticall parenthesis, to encrease a carefull hyperbaton.
  The braunch of the fathers body is the child.
  For even so alluded to the saying of Andro-mache to Ascanius in Virgile.
        ‘Sic oculos, sic ille manus, sic ora ferebat.’
  A thrilling throb, a percing sighe.
  Liggen, lye.
  Maister of collusion, sc. coloured guile, because the Foxe, of al beasts, is most wily and crafty.
  Sperre the yate, shut the dore.
  For such: The gotes stombling is here noted as an evill signe. The like to be marked in all histories: and that not the leaste of the Lorde Hastingues in King Rycharde the Third his dayes. For beside his daungerous dreame (whiche was a shrewde prophecie of his mishap that folowed) it is sayd that in the morning, ryding toward the Tower of London, there to sitte uppon matters of counsell, his horse stombled twise or thrise by the way: which of some, that, ryding with hym in his company, were privie to his neere destenie, was secretly marked, and afterward noted for memorie of his great mishap that ensewed. For being then as merye as man might be, and least doubting any mortall daunger, he was, within two howres after, of the tyranne put to a shamefull deathe.
  As belles: By such trifles are noted, the reliques and ragges of popish superstition, which put no smal religion in belles, and babies, sc. idoles, and glasses, sc. paxes, and such lyke trumperies.
  Great cold: For they boast much of their outward patience, and voluntarye sufferaunce, as a worke of merite and holy humblenesse.
  Sweete S. Charitie, the Catholiques comen othe, and onely speache, to have charitye alwayes in their mouth, and sometime in their outward actions, but never inwardly in fayth and godly zeale.
  Clincke, a key hole. Whose diminutive is clicket, used of Chaucer for a key.
  Stoundes, fittes: aforesayde.
  His lere, his lesson.
  Medled, mingled.
  Bestlihead, agreeing to the person of a beast.
  Sibbe, of kynne.
  Newell, a newe thing.
  To forestall, to prævent.
  Glee, chere: afforesayde.
  Deare a price, his lyfe, which he lost for those toyes.
  Such ende is an epiphonema, or rather the morall of the whole tale, whose purpose is to warne the Protestaunt beware, howe he geveth credit to the unfaythfull Catholique: whereof we have dayly proofes sufficient, but one moste famous of all, practised of late yeares in Fraunce, by Charles the Nynth.
  Fayne, gladde or desyrous.
  Our Sir John, a Popishe priest. A saying fit for the grosenesse of a shepheard, but spoken to taunte unlearned priestes.
  Dismount, descende or set.
  Nye, draweth nere.

  Both these emblemes make one whole hexametre. The first spoken of Palinodie, as in reproche of them that be distrustfull, is a peece of Theognis verse, intending, that who doth most mistrust is most false. For such experience in falshod breedeth mistrust in the mynd, thinking no lesse guile to lurke in others then in hymselfe. But Piers thereto strongly replyeth with another peece of the same verse, saying, as in his former fable, what fayth then is there in the faythlesse? For if fayth be the ground of religion, which fayth they dayly false, what hold then is there of theyr religion? And thys is all that they saye.

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