Verse > Edmund Spenser > Complete Poetical Works
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1908.
The Shepheardes Calender
  THIS Æglogue is wholly vowed to the complayning of Colins ill successe in his love. For being (as is aforesaid) enamoured of a country lasse, Rosalind, and having (as seemeth) founde place in her heart, he lamenteth to his deare frend Hobbinoll, that he is nowe forsaken unfaithfully, and in his steede Menalcas, another shepheard, received disloyally. And this is the whole argument of this Æglogue.


  Hob.  Lo, Collin, here the place whose pleasaunt syte
From other shades hath weand my wandring mynde.
Tell me, what wants me here to worke delyte?
The simple ayre, the gentle warbling wynde,
So calme, so coole, as no where else I fynde,        5
The grassye ground with daintye daysies dight,
The bramble bush, where byrds of every kynde
To the waters fall their tunes attemper right.
  Col.  O happy Hobbinoll! I blesse thy state,
That Paradise hast found, whych Adam lost.        10
Here wander may thy flock, early or late,
Withouten dreade of wolves to bene ytost:
Thy lovely layes here mayst thou freely boste.
But I, unhappy man, whom cruell Fate
And angry gods pursue from coste to coste,        15
Can nowhere fynd to shroude my lucklesse pate.
  Hob.  Then if by me thou list advised be,
Forsake the soyle that so doth the bewitch;
Leave me those hilles, where harbrough nis to see,
Nor holybush, nor brere, nor winding witche,        20
And to the dales resort, where shepheards ritch,
And fruictfull flocks, bene every where to see.
Here no night ravens lodge, more black then pitche,
Nor elvish ghosts, nor gastly owles doe flee.
But frendly Faeries, met with many Graces,        25
And lightfote Nymphes, can chace the lingring night
With heydeguyes and trimly trodden traces,
Whilst systers nyne, which dwell on Parnasse hight,
Doe make them musick for their more delight;
And Pan himselfe, to kisse their christall faces,        30
Will pype and daunce, when Phœbe shineth bright:
Such pierlesse pleasures have we in these places.
  Col.  And I, whylst youth and course of carelesse yeeres
Did let me walke withouten lincks of love,
In such delights did joy amongst my peeres:        35
But ryper age such pleasures doth reprove;
My fancye eke from former follies move
To stayed steps: for time in passing weares,
(As garments doen, which wexen old above)
And draweth newe delightes with hoary heares.        40
Tho couth I sing of love, and tune my pype
Unto my plaintive pleas in verses made;
Tho would I seeke for queene apples unrype,
To give my Rosalind, and in sommer shade
Dight gaudy girlonds was my comen trade,        45
To crowne her golden locks; but yeeres more rype,
And losse of her, whose love as lyfe I wayd,
Those weary wanton toyes away dyd wype.
  Hob.  Colin, to heare thy rymes and roundelayes,
Which thou were wont on wastfull hylls to singe,        50
I more delight then larke in sommer dayes:
Whose echo made the neyghbour groves to ring,
And taught the byrds, which in the lower spring
Did shroude in shady leaves from sonny rayes,
Frame to thy songe their chereful cheriping,        55
Or hold theyr peace, for shame of thy swete layes.
I sawe Calliope wyth Muses moe,
Soone as thy oaten pype began to sound,
Theyr yvory luyts and tamburins forgoe,
And from the fountaine, where they sat around,        60
Renne after hastely thy silver sound.
But when they came where thou thy skill didst showe,
They drewe abacke, as halfe with shame confound,
Shepheard to see, them in theyr art outgoe.
  Col.  Of Muses, Hobbinol, I conne no skill:        65
For they bene daughters of the hyghest Jove,
And holden scorne of homely shepheards quill.
For sith I heard that Pan with Phœbus strove,
Which him to much rebuke and daunger drove,
I never lyst presume to Parnasse hyll,        70
But, pyping lowe in shade of lowly grove,
I play to please my selfe, all be it ill.
Nought weigh I, who my song doth prayse or blame,
Ne strive to winne renowne, or passe the rest:
With shepheard sittes not followe flying fame,        75
But feede his flocke in fields where falls hem best.
I wote my rymes bene rough, and rudely drest:
The fytter they my carefull case to frame:
Enough is me to paint out my unrest,
And poore my piteous plaints out in the same.        80
The god of shepheards, Tityrus, is dead,
Who taught me, homely as I can, to make.
He, whilst he lived, was the soveraigne head
Of shepheards all that bene with love ytake:
Well couth he wayle his woes, and lightly slake        85
The flames which love within his heart had bredd,
And tell us mery tales, to keepe us wake,
The while our sheepe about us safely fedde.
Nowe dead he is, and lyeth wrapt in lead,
(O why should Death on hym such outrage showe?)        90
And all hys passing skil with him is fledde,
The fame whereof doth dayly greater growe.
But if on me some little drops would flowe
Of that the spring was in his learned hedde,
I soone would learne these woods to wayle my woe,        95
And teache the trees their trickling teares to shedde.
Then should my plaints, causd of discurtesee,
As messengers of all my painfull plight,
Flye to my love, where ever that she bee,
And pierce her heart with poynt of worthy wight,        100
As shee deserves, that wrought so deadly spight.
And thou, Menalcas, that by trecheree
Didst underfong my lasse to wexe so light,
Shouldest well be knowne for such thy villanee.
But since I am not as I wish I were,        105
Ye gentle shepheards, which your flocks do feede,
Whether on hylls, or dales, or other where,
Beare witnesse all of thys so wicked deede;
And tell the lasse, whose flowre is woxe a weede,
And faultlesse fayth is turned to faithlesse fere,        110
That she the truest shepheards hart made bleede
That lyves on earth, and loved her most dere.
  Hob.  O carefull Colin! I lament thy case:
Thy teares would make the hardest flint to flowe.
Ah, faithlesse Rosalind, and voide of grace,        115
That art the roote of all this ruthfull woe!
But now is time, I gesse, homeward to goe:
Then ryse, ye blessed flocks, and home apace,
Least night with stealing steppes doe you forsloe,
And wett your tender lambes that by you trace.

        Giá speme spenta.


  Syte, situation and place.
  Paradise. A Paradise in Greeke signifieth a garden of pleasure, or place of delights. So he compareth the soile wherin Hobbinoll made his abode, to that earthly Paradise, in Scripture called Eden, wherein Adam in his first creation was placed: which, of the most learned, is thought to be in Mesopotamia, the most fertile and pleasaunte country in the world (as may appeare by Diodorus Syculus description of it, in the hystorie of Alexanders conquest thereof:) lying betweene the two famous ryvers, (which are sayd in Scripture to flowe out of Paradise) Tygris and Euphrates, whereof it is so denominate.
  Forsake the soyle. This is no poetical fiction, but unfeynedly spoken of the poete selfe, who for speciall occasion of private affayres, (as I have bene partly of himselfe informed) and for his more preferment, removing out of the Northparts, came into the South, as Hobbinoll indeede advised him privately.
  Those hylles, that is the North countrye, where he dwelt.
  Nis, is not.
  The dales, the Southpartes, where he nowe abydeth, which thoughe they be full of hylles and woodes (for Kent is very hyllye and woodye; and therefore so called: for Kantsh in the Saxons tongue signifieth woodie,) yet in respecte of the Northpartes they be called dales. For indede the North is counted the higher countrye.
  Night ravens, &c. By such hatefull byrdes, hee meaneth all misfortunes (whereof they be tokens) flying every where.
  Frendly faeries. The opinion of faeries and elfes is very old, and yet sticketh very religiously in the myndes of some. But to roote that rancke opinion of elfes oute of mens hearts, the truth is, that there be no such thinges, nor yet the shadowes of the things, but onely by a sort of bald friers and knavish shavelings so feigned; which, as in all other things, so in that, soughte to nousell the comen people in ignoraunce, least, being once acquainted with the truth of things, they woulde in tyme smell out the untruth of theyr packed pelfe and massepenie religion. But the sooth is, that when all Italy was distraicte into the factions of the Guelfes and the Gibelins, being two famous houses in Florence, the name began, through their great mischiefes and many outrages, to be so odious, or rather dreadfull, in the peoples eares, that if theyr children at any time were frowarde and wanton, they would say to them that the Guelfe or the Gibeline came. Which words nowe from them (as many thinge els) be come into our usage, and, for Guelfes and Gibelines, we say elfes and goblins. No otherwise then the Frenchmen used to say of that valiaunt captain, the very scourge of Fraunce, the Lord Thalbot, afterward Erle of Shrewsbury; whose noblesse bred such a terrour in the hearts of the French, that oft times even great armies were defaicted and put to flyght at the onely hearing of hys name. In somuch that the French wemen, to affray theyr chyldren, would tell them that the Talbot commeth.
  Many Graces. Though there be indeede but three Graces or Charites (as afore is sayd) or at the utmost but foure, yet in respect of many gyftes of bounty, there may be sayde more. And so Musæus sayth, that in Heroes eyther eye there satte a hundred Graces. And by that authoritye, thys same poete, in his Pageaunts, saith ‘An hundred Graces on her eyeledde satte,’ &c.
  Haydeguies, a country daunce or rownd. The conceipt is, that the Graces and Nymphes doe daunce unto the Muses and Pan his musicke all night by moonelight. To signifie the pleasauntnesse of the soyle.
  Peeres, equalles and felow shepheards.
  Queneapples unripe, imitating Virgils verse,
        ‘Ipse ego cana legam tenera lanugine mala.’
  Neighbour groves, a straunge phrase in English, but word for word expressing the Latine vicina nemora.
  Spring, not of water, but of young trees springing.
  Calliope, afforesayde. Thys staffe is full of verie poetical invention.
  Tamburines, an olde kind of instrument, which of some is supposed to be the clarion.
  Pan with Phæbus. The tale is well knowne, howe that Pan and Apollo, striving for excellencye in musicke, chose Midas for their judge. Who, being corrupted wyth partiall affection, gave the victorye to Pan undeserved: for which Phœbus sette a payre of asses eares upon hys head, &c.
  Tityrus. That by Tityrus is meant Chaucer, hath bene already sufficiently sayde, and by thys more playne appeareth, that he sayth, he tolde merye tales. Such as be hys Canterburie Tales. Whom he calleth the god of poetes for hys excellencie, so as Tullie calleth Lentulus, Deum vitæ suæ, sc. the god of hys lyfe.
  To make, to versifie.
  O why, a pretye epanorthosis or correction.
  Discurtesie. He meaneth the falsenesse of his lover Rosalinde, who, forsaking hym, hadde chosen another.
  Poynte of worthy wite, the pricke of deserved blame.
  Menalcas, the name of a shephearde in Virgile; but here is meant a person unknowne and secrete, agaynst whome he often bitterly invayeth.
  Underfonge, undermynde and deceive by false suggestion.

  You remember that in the fyrst Æglogue, Colins poesie was Anchora speme: for that as then there was hope of favour to be found in tyme. But nowe being cleane forlorne and rejected of her, as whose hope, that was, is cleane extinguished and turned into despeyre, he renounceth all comfort, and hope of goodnesse to come: which is all the meaning of thys embleme.

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