Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Perigot and Willie’s Roundelay
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
From “The Shepheardes Calender:” August

IT 1 fell upon a holly eve,
  Hey ho, hollidaye!
When holly fathers wont to shrieve,
  Now gynneth this roundelay.
Sitting upon a hill so hye,        5
  Hey ho, the high hyll!
The while my flocke did feede thereby,
  The while the shepheard selfe did spill: 2
I saw the bouncing Bellibone, 3
  Hey ho, Bonibell!        10
Tripping over the dale alone:
  She can trippe it very well;
Well decked in a frocke of gray,
  Hey ho, gray is greete! 4
And in a kirtle of greene saye, 5        15
  The greene is for maydens meete.
A chapelet on her head she wore,
  Hey ho, chapelet!
Of sweete violets therein was store,
  —She sweeter then the violet.        20
My sheepe did leave theyr wonted foode,
  Hey ho, seely sheepe!
And gazd on her, as they were wood, 6
  —Woode as he, that did them keepe.
As the bonnilasse passed bye,        25
  Hey ho, bonilasse!
She rovde 7 at me with glauncing eye,
  As cleare as the christall glasse:
All as the sunnye beame so bright,
  Hey ho, the sunne beame!        30
Glaunceth from Phœbus face forthright,
  So love into my hart did streame:
Or as the thonder cleaves the cloudes,
  Hey ho, the thonder!
Wherein the lightsome levin 8 shroudes,        35
  So cleaves thy soule asonder:
Or as Dame Cynthias silver raye
  Hey ho, the moonelight!
Upon the glyttering wave doth playe:
  Such play is a pitteous plight!        40
The glaunce into my heart did glide,
  Hey ho, the glyder!
Therewith my soule was sharply gryde; 9
  Such woundes soone wexen wider.
Hasting to raunch 10 the arrow out,        45
  Hey ho, Perigot!
I left the head in my hart roote:
  It was a desperate shot.
There it ranckleth ay more and more,
  Hey ho, the arrowe!        50
Ne can I find salve for my sore:
  Love is a cureless sorrowe.
And though my bale with death I brought,
  Hey ho, heavie cheere!
Yet should thilk 11 lasse not from my thought:        55
  So you may buye gold 12 to deare.
But whether in paynefull love I pyne,
  Hey ho, pinching payne!
Or thrive in welth, she shalbe mine.
  But if thou can her obteine.        60
And if for gracelesse griefe I dye,
  Hey ho, gracelesse griefe! 13
Witnesse, shee slewe me with her eye:
  Let thy follye be the priefe.
And you that sawe it, simple shepe,        65
  Hey ho, the fayre flocke!
For priefe 14 thereof my death shall weepe,
  And mone with many a mocke.
So learnd I love on a hollye eve,—
  Hey ho, holidaye!        70
That ever since my hart did greve:
  Now endeth our roundelay.
Note 1. From The Shepherd’s Calender: August (1579). “Perigot maketh all his song in praise of his love, to whom Willy answereth every under verse.” (E. K.’s Glosse upon the Calendar.) In the original edition the names of Perigot and Willy were printed alternately throughout the poem. [back]
Note 2. Spill: perish. [back]
Note 3. Bellibone: Belle et bonne, a compound, the reverse of the more usual Bonibell of the next verse (Schelling). [back]
Note 4. Gray is greete: gray denotes weeping or mourning. [back]
Note 5. Saye: skirt of coarse material. [back]
Note 6. Wood: mad. [back]
Note 7. Rovde: Took a glance or roving shot at; cf. “At marks full forty score they used to prick and rove,” Drayton’s Polyolbion, Song xxvi. [back]
Note 8. Lightsome levin: brilliant lightning. [back]
Note 9. Gryde: pierced. [back]
Note 10. Raunch: wrench. [back]
Note 11. Thilk: the ilk, i.e., the same. [back]
Note 12. You may bye gold: a proverb. [back]
Note 13. Gracelesse griefe: a grief that comes from not obtaining her grace or favour. [back]
Note 14. Priefe: proof. [back]

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