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[headnote] Loe I hauehave made a Calender for eueryevery yeare, That steele in strength, and time in durance shall outweare: And if I marked well the starres reuolutionrevolution, It shall continewe till the worlds dissolution. To teach the ruder shepheard how to feede his sheepe, And from the falsers fraud his folded flocke to keepe. Goe lyttle Calender, thou hast a free passeporte, Goe but a lowly gate emongste the meaner sorte. Dare not to match thy pype with Tityrus hys style, Nor with the Pilgrim that the Ploughman playde awhyle:a whyle:a while:awhile: But followe them farre off, and their high steppes adore, The better please, the worse despise, I aske nomore.
Merce non mercede.
7. passeporte: license to travel, safe-conduct
10. awhyle:] 1579; a whyle 1581

The first of four prefatory materials to the 1579 quarto edition of The Shepheardes Calender, the title page is important as an object in its own right. It divides into four parts, from top to bottom: the title of the book; its dedication; the printer’s ornament; and the printer’s imprint. Distinctly missing is a printer’s border (around the edges), which distinguishes this title page from those in later SC editions, and which gives the page a striking plainness for a book self-consciously announcing its importance (cf. Luborsky 1980: 32-3). The name of the author is missing as well, for the book remains anonymous, signed on the next page by ‘Immeritô’ (The Unworthy One). Yet two other names do appear: that of Philip Sidney, the book’s dedicatee, marking the first appearance of this figure in Spenser’s biography and canon; and that of Hugh Singleton, the printer.

The Shepheardes Calender: The title of Spenser’s book communicates a double message: on the one hand, the title aligns the book with the tradition of the English almanac; on the other, it aligns the book with the tradition of European pastoral, as signaled by the word ‘Æglogues’ in the subtitle (see Introduction). Early modern punctuation allows for ‘Shepheardes’ to be either possessive singular (shepherd’s) or plural (shepherds’), and arguments can be made for both (Var 7: 235). One recent modernized edition opts for the plural, ‘The Shepherds’ Calendar’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 7), which emphasizes the poem’s community of shepherds. One of the recognized models for the design of Spenser’s book also uses the plural: The Kalender of Shepherdes (1^st^ edition 1506; reprinted nearly annually throughout sixteenth century), which E.K. refers to in his dedicatory Epistle. Yet Januarye begins with reference to ‘A shepeheards boy’ (1), and Immerito recurrently features his own personal possessiveness (e.g., ‘I have made a Calender’ [Epilogue 1]), suggesting that the title straddles the divide of individual and communal production: this is a book about a community of shepherds and an individual shepherd’s representation of that community (even as it is a representation of his alienation from that community).
proportionable: Corresponding. Proportion is one of Spenser’s emphases throughout SC (L.S. Johnson 1990: 45; see 43, 49-50). Cf. Epistle 142-3: ‘these xii. Æglogues, which for that they be proportioned to the state of the xii. Monethes’; and Gen Arg 21-2: ‘These xii. Æclogues every where answering to the seasons of the twelve monthes.’
Entitled: See OED for the word ‘entitle’ meaning ‘To inscribe, dedicate (a book) to a person’ or ‘To ascribe (a literary work) to an author’. The ambiguity is playful given that the author of the book does not appear on the title page. The verb ‘Entitled’ anticipates (and perhaps plays on) the subsequent noun ‘titles’.
NOBLE AND VERTU-ous Gentleman . . . titles: In 1579, Sidney was a Gentleman (rather than a Knight) and descended from the noble Dudley family on his mother’s side, his uncle being Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. Spenser may originally have intended to dedicate SC to Leicester (see ‘To His Booke’ 11n and Letters 4.15n). Spenser remembers Sidney often in his poetry, especially in the funeral elegy ‘Ast’ but also in Time and Colin Clout. Sidney may also have influenced the figure of Calidore, hero of the Legend of Courtesy, in FQ VI (on the Sidney-Spenser relation, see SpE s.v. ‘Sidney, Philip’).
learning and chevalrie: two important ideals of Elizabethan humanist culture, embodied in Sidney. Cf. ‘To His Booke’ 3-4.
[printer’s ornament]: The square image of six standard printer’s flowers was used by Singleton previously in (e.g.) An Exposition upon the Cxxx. Psalm . . . Written by Martin Luther (London, 1574).
Hugh Singleton: A bookseller, printer, and bookbinder who worked in London between 1548 and 1593 at the sign of the Golden Tun in Creede Lane (as the imprint records). Only a few months before publication of SC, Singleton had printed John Stubbes’ The Discoverie of a Gaping Gulf whereinto England is likely to be Swallowed, a polemical indictment of the proposed wedding match between Queen Elizabeth and the French Duc d’Alençon, a publication that infamously cost Stubbes his right hand. Singleton was also found guilty and ordered to lose his hand but later was pardoned, almost certainly because a printer had less responsibility than a publisher (in this case, the publisher, William Page, did lose his hand). Singleton’s role as the printer of SC has political and religious significance, because he is associated not simply with the Leicester-Sidney faction mounting the attack on the queen’s wedding match but also with the Protestant reform movement circulating around this faction (Norbrook 2002: 63, 67; S.K. Galbraith 2008: 22-5).
Ludgate: The westernmost gate in London Wall, and thus a section of London, popular with printers and booksellers, who had their shops built around St. Paul’s Cathedral, which sat atop Ludgate Hill. Creed Lane, where Singleton’s shop was located, is near the west end of St. Paul’s.
signe of the gylden Tunne: Singleton’s shop bore the wood sign or rebus of a single golden ‘Tunne’ or cask.

The poem serving as a prologue to The Shepheardes Calender, ‘To His Booke,’ appears on the verso of the title page in the early quartos. The two pages have a close relationship, because they both refer to Philip Sidney: the title page dedicates the book to Sidney, while the prologue refers to him as ‘the president / Of noblesse and of chevalree’ (3-4). From the outset, Spenser features the relationship between author and patron, poetry and patronage, creating a specific professional frame for the reception of his book. Yet nowhere does Spenser reveal his own name, instead calling the author ‘Immerito’ (‘The Unworthy One’) at the foot of the prologue. In the fiction of the prologue, however, Immerito makes a sustained address to his ‘booke’, which introduces a second relationship, between author and work. Together, the two fictions present the author telling his book to go to Sidney for protection.

The book needs protection for three reasons. First, as an orphan ‘whose parent is unkent’ (unknown) (2)--Spenser is making his first formal appearance in print and wishes to remain anonymous--the book requires someone in a position of power to provide ‘succoure’ for it (6). Second, since the book boldly appears in print while being so vulnerable, it needs defense against the ‘Envie’ that will ‘barke’ at it (5). And third, because the book is ‘base begot with blame’, and thus ‘takest shame’ for its low-class status (14-15), it needs a higher-ranking member of society to license its authority. Immerito relies on the modesty topos, calling his enterprise ‘hardyhedde’, or arrogant presumption, but the word also draws attention to Spenser’s bold ambition: someone who had been a ‘sizar’ or poor scholar at Cambridge University now publishes a book dedicated to a ‘noble’ man of letters.

Beneath the mask of modesty is not just Spenser’s social mobility but the very grounds for it: an eighteen-line debut poem in tetrameter tercets—a rare if not original verse form in itself—which relies on such unusual and sophisticated devices for the time as recurrent enjambment, neologism, lucid and polysyllabic diction, and learned allusion to biblical, classical, and native medieval works, all of which command authority. For instance, Immerito asks Sidney for protection ‘Under the shadow of his wing’ (7), a phrase borrowed from Psalms 36.7, identifying the English patron with the Israelite David, the shepherd-king who protects his flock with faithful song. Yet the prologue opens with a clear imitation of a native author, Chaucer, who had placed an address to his work toward the end of Troilus and Criseyde: ‘Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye’ (5.1786). Immerito repeats the words of England’s greatest poet of the past and aims to overgo him. Chaucer’s address had a healthy afterlife in English poetry, including Lydgate’s Troy Book and Skelton’s Garland or Chaplet of Laurel (see note below). Yet none of these three native precursors formally wrote in pastoral, so scholars have also found Spenser imitating Virgil: ‘A shepheards swaine say did thee sing / All as his straying flocke he fedde’ (9-10). Here, Spenser scripts a deft accommodation of a classical to a biblical trope for the Christian poet’s saving pastoral art. For those who look to Virgil as a model, pastoral anticipates epic. Hence, Immerito gestures to the Virgilian progression of literary forms when identifying Sidney as ‘the president / Of noblesse and of chevalree’: not just the patron but the exemplar of heroic culture and art. Immerito’s concluding lines also gesture to future poems: ‘Come tell me, what was sayd of mee: / And I will send more after thee’ (17-8). Finally, Immerito’s interest in his own reputation emerges in line 13 when he raises the prospect that Sidney might wish to ‘aske’ the author his ‘name’, providing a glimpse into one of Spenser’s singular preoccupations: fame. Here, also, Spenser bids for an ongoing personal relationship with his patron, mediated by the book they share.

For its metrical and formal innovations, its generic representations, its social, political, and religious topics, and finally its fiction of authorship, patronage, social reception, and renown, ‘To His Booke’ opens the page of Spenser’s ‘Calender’ to a remarkable index of literary ambition and achievement.

1  Goe little booke: A formal ‘envoy’ to launch the work, imitating Chaucer, ‘Go, litel bok’ (see headnote above). Chaucer’s verbal formula has a remarkable afterlife, almost all of it appearing in patronage poems, with Lydgate turning to it again and again: Troy Book, ‘Lenvoye’ 92-107, Fall of Princes 3589-3604, Complaint of the Black Knight 674-81, The Churl and the Bird 379-87.  See also Hoccleve, ‘Balade to Edward, Duke of York’ (Seymour 1985: 55), ‘Balade to John, Duke of Bedford’ (Seymour 1985: 57); James I of Scotland, Kingis Quair 1352-79; Richard Roos, La Belle Dame Sans Mercy 829-49; Hawes, Pastime of Pleasure, Capitu 46; Skelton, Garland or Chaplet of Laurel 1533-86. Spenser returns to the formula in the December Epilogue, line 7: ‘Goe lyttle Calender’. He may also draw on Ovid, Tristia 1.1.23-30, when the exiled poet directs his book to find refuge back in his library in Rome (Stapleton 2009: 52).
 unkent: unknown, untaught
2  parent is unkent: The first reference to the poem’s anonymous publication, as at 13-4.
3  president: Most obviously signifying both president (patron) and precedent (exemplar). Yet the word had an array of meanings, political and religious (as well as literary): ‘The appointed governor or lieutenant of a province, . . . colony, city’; ‘A presiding god, guardian, or patron’; ‘The head of a religious house’; even ‘A title applied to the heads of certain colleges of British universities’ (OED).
 noblesse: nobility
5  Envie barke: Envy, conventionally represented as canine (Ripa 1603: 242-3; R.B. Gill 1979: 217), is a major topic of Spenser’s poetry, the evil from which he longs to be free (SpE s.v. ‘envy’), beginning with his inaugural poem here and climaxing in the closing books of the 1596 FQ, where he embodies the Blatant Beast as a ‘hellish Dog’ (VI.vi.12.2). Cf. Epistle 168-73, where E.K. says to Gabriel Harvey on behalf of Spenser: ‘Whose cause I pray you Sir, yf Envie shall stur up any wrongful accusasion, defend with your mighty Rhetorick and other your rare gifts of learning, as you can, and shield with your good wil, as you ought, against the malice and outrage of so many enemies, as I know wilbe set on fire with the sparks of his kindled glory.’
7 Under the shadow of his wing: Cf. Ps 36:7, ‘under the shadowe of thy wings,’ referring to the Lord’s protection of the faithful from evil.
 All as: while
10  his straying flocke her fedde: The central trope in SC for the pastor-poet’s role in society. See, e.g., Jan 4n.
11  his honor: The address would be inappropriate to Sidney, who was not knighted by 1579. The phrase may indicate that Spenser originally intended to dedicate SC to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (SpE s.v. ‘Leicester, Robert Dudley, earl of’ 432).
 hardyhedde: boldness
12  hardyhedde: A Spenserian neologism. Cf. E.K.’s phrasing at Epistle 64-5: ‘of witlesse headinesse in judging, or of heedelesse hardinesse in condemning.’
 For thy thereof: on which account
16  jeopardee: Spenser shows awareness of the risks his little book takes, from its origin in an author of humble social birth to its criticism of political and religious authorities.
19  Immeritô: Spenser’s assumed identity in SC, meaning ‘The Unworthy One’. In addition to ‘the modest Italian adjective, Spenser may intend the Latin adverb, as in Terence, Phormio 290—“Unjustly (accused)”’ (A. Fowler 2012: 151). Throughout Letters, Spenser signs his name ‘Immerito’ (e.g., 1.86), while Harvey repeatedly addresses Spenser as ‘Immerito’ (e.g., 2.1). Notably, in Letters 4 Spenser signs his inset poem ‘Iambicum Trimetrum’ with ‘Immerito’ (105/21), while in Letters 3 Harvey calls Spenser’s first wife ‘mea Domina Immerito, mea bellissima Collina Clouta’ (597-8: ‘O my Lady Immerito, my most beautiful Madam Colin Clout’).

The third of four prefatory materials to The Shepheardes Calender, the dedicatory Epistle to Gabriel Harvey is an important document in English letters. Above all, it boldly introduces the author of the pastoral book as the ‘new Poete’ (dedication title)—a phrase that continues to be associated with Spenser over 400 years later.

The Epistle divides into several topics: the New Poet’s relation with Chaucer and Virgil and a prediction of the author’s fame (1-14); his groundbreaking use of language--both his individual words (23-95) and his sentence arrangement (96-111)--to advance the ‘Mother tonge’ (70), including his triumphant overgoing of ‘the rakehellye route of our ragged rymers’ (102-3); the program of an author who begins the ‘flyght’ (123) of his career with pastoral, in imitation of Virgil and other poets (112-36); the poet’s ‘purpose’ (137) in writing SC (137-61), ‘to mitigate and allay the heate of his passion, or else to warne . . . young shepheards . . . of his unfortunate folly’ (140-2); and the evocation of a literary environment in which the book is produced, including its relation to Harvey, Philip Sidney (the book’s dedicatee), and the mysterious E.K., who signs the Epistle (161-93).

Probably, E.K. does not refer to Edward Kirke (1553-1613), who had been a sizar with Spenser at Cambridge, even though Kirke’s initials match E.K.’s and Spenser mentions ‘Mystress Kerke’ (either Edward’s mother or his wife) in a letter to Harvey written on 16 October 1579 (Letters 4.63, 257-8; see Hadfield 2012: 122-3). More likely, Spenser authored the Epistle himself, as well as the General Argument, the prose Arguments prefacing the twelve eclogues, and their detailed glosses, perhaps in collusion with Harvey (Starnes 1944; Schleiner 1990; Waldman 1991; Carroll 2005; McCabe 2010: 465-8). Consequently, readers may more profitably turn away from this ‘authorial wild goose chase’ to ‘question the purpose and nature of [E.K.’s] . . . strange exegetical performance’ (Kearney 2011: 143n2). In his performance, E.K. functions as part of Spenser’s elaborate fiction about his monumental book (McCanles 1982): not merely does E.K. serve as the presenter of Spenser’s literary career but he functions as a ‘diagnostic and analytic . . . commentary on, and exploration of, the place of such books in his culture’ (Kearney 2011: 114).

As both performance and prolegomenon, the Epistle is important in a history of the book and of English literature (cf. Tribble 1993: 72-87; Slights 2001: 46-52; Cook 2011).

0.1-0.6 To the most . . . new Poete: The formal title to the Epistle puts Gabriel Harvey, MA (c. 1550-1631) near the front of Spenser’s book (after Philip Sidney on the title page). Harvey was fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge during Spenser’s residence, as well as his close friend and his correspondent in the Letters. Harvey is principally remembered for his marginalia and his 1590s controversy with Thomas Nashe (1567-c. 1601), the so-called Harvey-Nashe debate. Cf. Jan [10] and Sept [176] (see Goldberg 1989; SpE s.v. ‘Harvey, Gabriel’; Maley 2010: 17-22).
0.5 patronage: A curious term here, and rare in the Spenser canon. OED lists only two definitions applicable before 1579: 1) ‘Christian Church. The right of presenting a member of the clergy to a particular ecclesiastical benefice or living’; and 2) ‘The action of a patron in using money or influence to advance the interests of a person, cause, art’. At FQ ded sonn 13.8, Spenser uses the word in accord with the second definition.
1 UNCOUTHE UNKISTE: ‘Unknown, so not kissed’. A misquotation from, or imitation of, Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), Tr 1.809, taken from Pandarus’ advice to Troilus: ‘Unknowne, unkist’ (see SpE s.v. ‘Chaucer, Geoffrey’; A. King 2010: 554-6; Cook 2011). The allusion to Pandarus presents E.K. as a ‘go-between’ for bringing ‘the sense of the text and the reader together’, but E.K.’s ‘role of the pander . . . does not inspire confidence’, and instead invites the reader to view the glossator as part of the fictional performance, where ‘annotation [functions] as appropriation’, for E.K. is at times ‘pedantic, coy, and frequently inept’ (Kearney 2011: 112-3).
1 the olde famous Poete Chaucer: Does not merely contrast the ‘new Poete’ with Chaucer but puts the two together in a genealogy of English poets.
making: writing poetry
2 making: Formally identifies Chaucer as a ‘maker’. E.K. clarifies this meaning at Apr [19].
2-3 his scholler Lidgate: John Lydgate (c. 1370-c. 1451), a poet and monk, was an ardent admirer and imitator of Chaucer (as well as a friend to Chaucer’s son Thomas) and author of such poems as Troy Book and The Siege of Thebes. For Elizabethans, Lydgate was recognized as part of the triumvirate of great English poets, with Chaucer and John Gower (c. 1330-1408). The word ‘scholler’ (meaning ‘pupil’) evokes Lydgate’s learning but also draws attention to his discipleship under Chaucer.
4 Loadestarre of our Language: A resonant, alliterative phrase highlighting Chaucer’s importance in a history of English. A loadstar is a guiding star, often the pole star. Cf. Lydgate, Fall of Princes 1.252. Chaucer himself uses the metaphor, e.g., CT Knight 2059, Tr 5.1392.
4 Colin clout: One of Spenser’s figures for himself as author, as E.K. notes at 131-7, Jan [1], Sept [176]; see the respective notes, as well as the note to Jan Arg under ‘Colin cloute’.
5 Tityrus: Virgil’s pastoral persona in Eclogues 1 and 6, and thus in the unfolding literary tradition. Cf. Oct 55-60, [55]. For Chaucer as the English Tityrus, see Feb [92], June 81-96, [81], Dec 4 (cf. Epilogue 9).
5 God of shepheards: Colin calls Tityrus/Chaucer by this designation at June 81. The phrase sets up a comparison (perhaps a typology) between Chaucer-as-Tityrus and Pan, whom Colin recurrently designates the ‘shepheardes God’ (Jan 17, Apr 51, Maye 113, Dec 7, 50).
5 comparing: The phrasing suggests that Tityrus represents Chaucer in comparison with Virgil, in a genealogy of leading poets linking Rome with England.
6 proverbe: Chaucer uses the word, e.g., Tr 3.299, CT Monk 2246/3436.
7 Pandares: Pandarus, in Chaucer’s Tr; here, a possessive.
brocage: sexual brokering
tromp: trumpet
12 tromp: A traditional emblem of fame but also the instrument of epic (FQ I.pr.1.4).
14 wittinesse . . . wisenesse: This roll call of linguistic achievements draws attention to Spenser’s intelligence, artistry, wisdom, and moral value, as well as his pleasantness and utility in society—all the more impressive because he writes in the idiom of ‘pastorall rudenesse’.
16 rudenesse: Rustic roughness and (apparent) lack of learning.
17 Decorum: A major rhetorical standard, signaling propriety of language, genre, and subject. ‘[U]nder it one might subsume all Aristotle’s pleas to suit style to subject and to audience, arguments to audience, gestures and voice to style, etc.’ (Lanham 1968: 29-30). Cf. Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie (1589), ECE, 2.173-81.
20-21 words . . . auncient: Marks off the distinctiveness of Spenser’s archaism in SC (see Var 7.614-30, SpE s.v. ‘archaism’, ‘dialect’, ‘language’; Nicholson 2014: 100-23). For early adverse criticism, see Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie 3.4 (‘Our maker therefore at these days shall not follow Piers Plowman nor Gower nor Lydgate nor yet Chaucer, for their language is now out of use with us: neither shall he take the terms of northern men’); Sidney, Defence of Poetry (1595, composed c. 1580): ‘That same framing of his [Spenser’s] style to an old rustic language I dare not allow’ (1248-9). Sidney's disapproval is striking, because E.K. both asks him to defend the text and mocks anyone foolish enough to disapprove of the language.
20-23 straunge . . . straungest . . . straungeness: The concept has a range of meanings, from ‘unfamiliar’ to ‘exceptional to a degree that excites wonder or astonishment’, as well as ‘belonging to another country; foreign, alien’ (OED).
auncient: archaic
22 the whole Periode and compasse of speache: ‘The complete duration and scope of speech’. According to OED, the word ‘period’ comes from ‘Rhetoric. A grammatically complete sentence, esp. one made up of a number of clauses formed into a balanced or rhythmical whole; (more generally) a series of sentences seen as a linguistic whole. In pl.: rhetorical or ornamental language’. Yet E.K.’s phrase seems to depend on another OED definition: ‘duration’. E.K.’s word ‘compasse’ here means ‘scope’, ‘space’, ‘circumference’ (OED); it recurs at 76, 113.
traveiled: learned, travelled
27 that worthy Oratour: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–43 BC) in De Oratore 2.14.60.
mought: must
30-31 hit out: A rare and obsolete phrase meaning ‘To bring out, come out with’ (OED).
casualtye: chance, accident
35-37 obsolete wordes . . . bring great grace and . . . auctoritie to the verse: A major claim, the success of which is disputed by such early readers as Puttenham and Sidney (see 19-21n).
albe: although
38-39 Valla . . . Livie . . . Saluste: Lorenzo Valla (c. 1407-1457) was an Italian humanist who became private Latin secretary to Alfonso V of Aragon, and who, in Emendationes in Livium de Bello Punico (1532, 1540), criticized Livy for relying on his Paduan dialect. Titus Livius was a Roman historian (59 BC-AD 17), author of The History of Rome. Caius Sallustius Crispus (86-c. 34 BC) was also a Roman historian, author of The Conspiracy of Catiline and The Jugurthine War whose penchant for archaism had been attacked most recently by Roger Ascham (c. 1515-1568) in The Scholemaster (1570). Ascham, in 1579 the recently deceased tutor to Queen Elizabeth, may well be E.K.’s anonymous ‘other’ (Maclean and Prescott suggest Sir John Cheke [1514-1547], tutor to Edward VI [1993: 502]). Livy and Sallust join Cicero (‘that worthy Oratour’, mentioned by name subsequently) as Roman republicans who oppose monarchy. In being of the ‘opinion’ that ‘auncient solemne wordes are a great ornament’, E.K. sides with Livy and Sallust: ‘the one’ (E.K. continues) ‘labouring to set forth in hys worke an eternall image of antiquitie, and the other carefully discoursing matters of gravitie and importaunce’ (43-4). Significantly, the ‘eternall image of antiquitie’ that E.K. finds in Livy is a history of the Roman Republic. Livy, Sallust, and especially Cicero are important for defining a republic as relating a ‘free person’ to a ‘free state’: ‘Like a free person, a free state is one that is able to act according to its own will’ (Skinner 2002: 2.301). Spenser would have started studying the style of both Livy and Sallust (along with Cicero and other classical authors) at Merchant Taylors’ School (Hadfield 2012: 29-30), but in a letter to Spenser dated 7 April 1580 Harvey reports that undergraduates at Cambridge are focusing on Livy and Sallust rather than Cicero and Demosthenes (Letters 2.335-6; see Hadfield 2012: 70; for the importance of Livy to Harvey, see Jardine and Grafton 1990; Schurink 2011: 58-78).
eke: moreover, also
45-47 Tullie . . . reverend: During the Renaissance, humanists often called Cicero ‘Tully\`. At De Oratore 3.38.153, Cicero defends old words on the grounds that they lend dignity to rhetoric; at Orator 23.80, he similarly allows for occasional use of archaic diction in style.
46 paterne of a perfect Oratour: Cf. Oct Arg, ‘the perfecte paterne of a Poete’.
religious: scrupulous
51-52 as in old buildings . . . ruinous: The comparison between language and architecture recurs throughout SC, especially in Spenser’s word ‘frame’ (e.g., Dec 77 and note). See 19 for E.K.’s praise of Spenser for ‘framing his words’ and 101 for ‘this Author’ writing language that is ‘finely framed’.
all: just;
blaze: depict
52 pictures: The comparison between pictures and words evokes the Horatian tradition of ut pictura poesis (‘as is painting, so is poetry’ [Ars Poetica 361]), a staple of English Renaissance poetics. See note on Feb Arg 11 for ‘some Picture’.
53 portraict: portray
brave: splendid, showy
59 enlumine: ‘To shed luster upon, render illustrious or brilliant’ (OED).
concordaunce: harmony
61 Alceus: A Greek lyric poet (c. 620-580 BC), but E.K. is citing Cicero, De Natura Deorum 1.28.79.
or: either;
headinesse: headstrongness
hardinesse: boldness
65-66 marking . . . cast: A metaphor taken from archery: by not recognizing the goal of the archer’s aim, the reader will misgauge the extent of his shot. The ‘compass’ is the curved trajectory of the arrow.
67-70 this Poete . . . restore . . . Mother tonge: Arguably the grandest claim of SC, Spenser’s attempt to restore luster to the English language within a European competition against ‘french . . . Italian . . . Latine’ (75). This project is connected to the circle surrounding Matthew Parker (1504-1575), who was Archbishop of Canterbury before Edward Grindal (Crawforth 2011).
73-74 patched . . . peces and rags: Spenser stitches the clothing metaphor into the name of his persona, Colin Clout, since a ‘clout’ is ‘A piece of cloth’ (OED). The comparison of poetry to clothing recurs throughout SC (cf. Oct 87 for poetry’s ‘peeced pyneons’).
77 gallimaufray: A jumbled mixture.
82 Evanders mother: Evander led a colony of Arcadians who settled on Mount Palatine (Virgil, Aen 8.51-4). For his mother’s archaic diction, see Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae 1.10.2; but E.K.’s reference derives from Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.5.1.
92 dogge in the maunger: Proverbial (see C.G. Smith 1970, no. 192).
95 conne them thanke: ‘Thank them.’
members: limbs
compasse: measure, proportion
useth to be: is customarily
101 ungyrt: Unbelted, ungirdled.
trussed: tied in a bundle; knit together;
rakehellye: rakish, debauched
102 spue out: Cf. Lev 18:28, Rev 3:16.
103 hunt the letter: Affect excessive alliteration. Cf. Sidney, Defence, condemning poets’ ‘coursing [chasing] of a letter, as if they were bound to follow the method of a dictionary’ (1400-1).
104-106 jangle . . . rage . . . instinct . . . Poeticall spirite . . . ravished: E.K. criticizes ‘the rakehellye route of our ragged rymers’ (102-3) for bungling the poetic principle of Neoplatonic fury so important to Spenser, especially on display in Oct (see headnote, where such language also evokes the sublime).
jangle: jabber, jingle discordantly
106 above the meanenesse of commen capacitie: The bad poets E.K. criticizes falsify what Longinus in On Sublimity calls the sublime, an aesthetics of heightened language that Longinus locates in Homer’s Iliad, the Greek tragedians, Plato, Cicero, Demosthenes, and others.
conceipt: idea
110 Pythia: Prophetess of Apollo at Delphi; but E.K. alludes to the Cumaean Sybil foretelling Aeneas’ victory in Virgil, Aen 6.77-97. Longinus uses the Pythia as his arch-myth to represent the sublime poet (On Sublimity 14.2; see P. Cheney 2009: 16).
111 Os . . . domans: ‘[he tires her] raving mouth, tames her wild heart’ (Virgil, Aen 6.80).
113-114 Colin . . . Authour selfe: The first identification of Colin with Spenser.
116-117 Of Muses . . . my unrest: Quotations from June 65, 79; yet 65 reads, more accurately, ‘Of Muses Hobbinol, I conne no skill’.
119 covertly: According to Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie, ECE, 2.40, pastoral should ‘under the vaile of homely persons and in rude speeches . . . insinuate and glaunce at greater matters and such as perchance had not bene safe to have beene disclosed in any other sort’.
suffice: sufficient
faulteth: lacks
125 habilities:] We follow 1586, assuming that the question mark in 1579 reflects a misreading of copy. It may be that a semi-colon would be preferable to a colon: MS semi-colon could either have been read as a question mark or MS semi-colon, correctly apprehended, could have been misrepresented, had a question-mark been mistakenly distributed to the sort-box for semi-colons.
126-127 as young birdes . . . greater flyght: A recurrent topos of Spenser’s literary career, introduced here, and accommodated to pastoral as a literary form preparatory to epic (P. Cheney 1993). The trope is central especially to Oct, when ‘Colin fittes such famous flight to scanne’ (88; see note).
128-130 Theocritus . . . Sanazarus: E.K.’s inventory neglects the tradition of native pastoral preceding SC, represented by the earl of Surrey (1516-1547), who wrote one pastoral eclogue in Tottel’s Miscellany (1557); Alexander Barclay (c. 1476-1552), who five pastoral eclogues (published as a set in 1570); George Turbervile (c. 1540-c. 1597), who translated Mantuan’s Eclogues (1567); and Barnabe Googe (1540-1594), who wrote Eglogues (1568). See Introduction.
128 Theocritus: Ancient Greek poet of the third century BC whose Idylls inaugurated the pastoral genre.
full somd: fully grown; with full plumage
129 Mantuane: Baptista Spagnuoli of Mantua (1447-1516) published eight of his ten Latin eclogues in 1498; some of these eclogues were imitated in English by Barclay.
130 Petrarque: Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), author of the Italian Rime Sparse, who also produced twelve influential Latin eclogues, Bucolicum Carmen, as well as the unfinished epic Africa.
130 Boccace: Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75), author of The Decameron, wrote sixteen Latin eclogues and the Italian pastoral romance, L’Ameto.
130 Marot: Clément Marot (1496-1544), who composed four eclogues in French, two of which are imitated in November and December (see headnotes).
130 Sanazarus: Jacopo Sannazzaro (c. 1456-1530), who wrote several Latin piscatory eclogues (featuring fisherman instead of shepherds), as well as the romantic prose and verse Arcadia.
132-133 foting . . . followeth . . . trace him out: An important metaphor of authorship, linking imitation with interpretation, the poet’s following in the footsteps of other poets and the reader tracking these literary maneuverings. The pun on metrical foot clarifies what lies behind the idea of following someone’s footsteps: the hunt, a form of competition, which extends to the reader, who traces the author’s tracking of other authors. (On the pun, see Hinds 1987: 16, citing Catullus, Odes 14.21-3; Horace, Ars Poetica 80; Ovid, Met 5.264, Am 3.1.8, Tr 1.115-16. Origins lie in Lucretius, DRN 1.404-09. On the ‘image of tracking the deer as an analogy for interpretation’ being ‘a typically Stoic conception’, see Pugh 2005: 79.) Spenser elsewhere uses the hunt as a trope for authorship (e.g., Letters 1.58-60). Sometimes he does not make the hunt explicit in his travel metaphor: Epilogue 11 (see note; on the link between the two metaphors, and on the meaning of ‘trace’ as hunt, see Bates 2013, chapter 1, citing E.K.’s trope).
principals: main feathers.
134 principals: See OED: ‘Falconry. Either of the two outermost primary feathers in each wing’.
134-135 in time shall be hable to keepe wing with the best: At once a bold prophecy of Spenser’s authorship and a marketing ploy for the author’s future publications.
136 the generall dryft and purpose: E.K. goes on to identify only two ends to SC, neither of which encompasses the full ambition of the twelve eclogues, since the two speak only to the author’s youthful sex life: ‘to mitigate and allay the heate of his passion, or els to warne (as he sayth) the young shepheards’ (139-40). Whereas the first suggests a therapeutic end to writing for the author, the second suggests an ethical end for the reader.
unstayed: undecided, unregulated
140 .s.: An abbreviation for L scilicet, ‘namely’.
143 olde name: The Kalender of Shepherdes (first published 1506), an English version of Guy de Marchant’s almanac of astrological and miscellaneous lore, Le Compost et Calendrier des Bergers, frequently updated and reprinted throughout the sixteenth century (Shinn 2009).
144-150 Glosse or scholion . . . nations: Here E.K. explains why he has added a gloss to the eclogues: to draw attention to ‘wordes and matter’ that would ‘passe’ the reader by; and to make the work compete with that of other ‘nations’. In particular, SC coheres with Renaissance editions of Virgil, Sannazaro, the Geneva Bible, and other books (McCanles 1982; W.J. Kennedy 1985; Kearney 2011).
scholion: learned commentary
wote: know
proper: suitable; admirable
157-158 Dreames . . . Cupide: Not extant. Some of these works might be incorporated into later poems (see SpE s.v. ‘works, lost’; Celovsky 2010). For ‘Dreames’, cf. Nov [195] and note. The list implies a parallel with Chaucer, whose apocryphal works included, in the sixteenth century, Chaucer’s Dream, the legend The Judgement of Paris, and The Court of Cupid.
160-161 pleasurable or profitable: The Horation dictum for the two aims of poetry (Ars Poetica 343-4).
164 the maydenhead of this our commen frends Poetrie: Marks a link between virginity and publication. Humanism frequently used erotic language to talk about the practice of scholarly commentary in Renaissance editions, including E.K. on Chaucerian kissing and pandering at Epistle 1-10 (see Wallace 2007: E.K. here practices ‘a trick learned in the humanist schoolroom’ [163]).
166 Master Philip Sidney: Identified on the title page as the book’s dedicatee (‘Master’ is a correct form of address for this circumstance).
168 Envie: See ‘To His Booke’ 5 and note.
168-169 your mighty Rhetorick: In April 1574, Harvey had been appointed university praelector of rhetoric at Cambridge. He was well known as a leading Ramist in England, championing the rhetorical theory of Petrus Ramus (1515-1572) from France (see Ong 2004). In 1579, Richard Bridgewater (or Bridgwater) was known to be about to resign the position of Public Orator at Cambridge, and Harvey was jockeying for the position, which he failed to get; this passage may contribute to Harvey's campaign for the post.
179-192 Post scr . . . 10. of Aprill. 1579: The postscript on Harvey’s deserving of ‘the garlond’ (179) for his English and Latin poems feels like an afterthought but also underscores Harvey’s role as a poet, complementing his role as a rhetorician at the end of the Epistle proper (‘your mighty Rhetorick’ [168-9]). The date may be deliberately misleading, predating the contract drawn up for the queen's proposed marriage to Alençon in November 1579 (see Nov 16 gloss) so as to deflect suspicion from an author critical of the match (McLane 1961: 53-4; see Pugh 2016: 149-51).
Quidams: certain persons
189 Latine Poemes: Cf. Sept [176] and note.

The last of four materials prefatory to The Shepheardes Calender, ‘The generall argument of the whole booke’ does not strictly live up to its title, for nowhere does this second letter by E.K. supply a general argument for Spenser’s book (see note below on ‘argument’). Instead, it dilates on three main topics dealing with the genre of pastoral: the etymology of the word ‘Æglogues’; the ‘division’ of the twelve eclogues into ‘three formes or ranckes’; and a justification for making January rather than March the first month of the year (see below for individual notes). While the letter contains pedantry and bombast, it remains important for its overarching idea: the author of the book is a Christian poet who composes his pastoral poem by making learned decisions about its artistic unity and harmony (cf. L.S. Johnson 1990: 25-8).

0.1 0.1 argument: Either ‘Subject matter of discussion or discourse in speech or writing; theme, subject’ or ‘The summary or abstract of the subject matter of a book’ (OED).
7 Æglogai…tales: Reflecting a popular, but false, etymology, tracing to a ninth-century life of Virgil (Mustard 1919: 195). In fact, ‘eclogue’ means ‘selection’ and derives from the Greek for ‘choice’ or ‘choosing’; alternate generic indicators are ‘bucolic’ and ‘idyll’. In the 1581 quarto, E.K.’s three Greek words, ‘αἴγων or αἰγονόμων λόγοι’, are not given in the original but transliterated as ‘Aegon’ (aigon) and ‘Aeginomon logi’ (aignonomon logoi), and the quartos of 1586, 1591, and 1597 follow suit. Whereas E.K. assumes that ‘Aegon’ means goats, it means ‘pen’; ‘Aeginomon’ means ‘place where goats graze’, and logi’ means ‘words’, ‘utterances’ (see Brooks-Davies 1995: 26).
αἰγῶν: pen
αἰγονόμων: place where goats graze
λόγοι: words, utterances
grossenesse: stupidity
colour: pretence
albe: although
ἀvάλυσις: analysis
17 ἀvάλυσις: The quartos of 1581, 1586, 1591, and 1597 correctly transliterate the Greek word as ‘analysis’. Cf. Letters 3.566-7: ‘sometime this, sometime that, hath been noted by good wits in their Analyses.’
sentence: opinion
23 three . . . ranckes: Perhaps hinting at a hierarchy based on Renaissance tripartite schemes culminating in divine wisdom. The three forms--Plaintive, Recreative, and Moral--do not correspond to any established generic pattern, but serve as descriptors for the twelve eclogues. These forms are often used as a frame for interpreting SC as a whole (e.g., Berger 1988: 277-483; Oram 1997: 35-40). ‘Plaintive’ refers to a poetry of complaint, which takes up ‘metaphysical subjects like alienation, destructive love, friendship, the nature and value of poetry, and, most importantly, the force time exerts on all human efforts’. ‘Recreative’ refers to a poetry of recreation, refreshment, and solace, hence therapy. ‘Moral’ refers to a poetry of ethics, focusing on the public good (L.S. Johnson 1990: 97, 155-7, 53; see 38-47) but also on church discipline (as E.K.’s classification here of Maye, Julye, and September makes clear).
pleasaunce: pleasantness
39 seasonable: ‘Opportune,’ but also ‘suited to the particular season of the year’.
42 Andalo: Andalo de (or di) Negro (1260-1334), who was an Italian geographer and astronomer, and instructed Boccaccio in astronomy (see Wilkins 1906; Muccillo 1991). Andalo’s Opus preclarissimum astrolabii compositum a domino Andalo de nigro (pub 1475) discusses the making of astrolabes, and starts the discussion with March, but he does not treat the question of which month begins the new year. Boccaccio says that Andalo calculates the new year (Gen Deor 8.2), but the reference does not quite support E.K.’s claim (Renwick, Var 7: 244).
42 Macrobius . . . Saturne: The Convivia Saturnalia of Macrobius (fl. 400), from which E.K. borrows heavily.
coumpting: reckoning
54 Julius Cæsar: The matter was highly topical. Proposals for reform of the Julian calendar were already circulating. The Gregorian calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII [1502-1585], who was Pope when SC was published) was widely adopted in 1582, but not in England until 1752, because of its papal associations: ‘The calendar was being contested in two ways in early modern England. First, in 1577, Pope Gregory had proposed eliminating ten days from the calendar in order to make it conform more exactly to celestial motions,’ provoking Protestant resistance. ‘Second, . . . was the argument over the calendar’s liturgical content,’ with ‘many English reformers object[ing] . . . to the Catholic calendar’s large number of holy days and denounce[ing] . . . its “idolatrous” canon of saints. . . . Spenser’s text intervenes in both of these calendar debates’: first, ‘Spenser . . . construct[s] . . . a specifically English calendar “untainted” by Catholic forms of time reckoning’; second, he ‘symbolically remakes the Catholic liturgical calendar by substituting local English figures for the traditional calendar of saints, thus bringing a pointedly English history into the patterning of sacred time’ (Chapman 2002: 3).
57 Abib: ‘Conteining part of March and part of April’ (Geneva gloss on Exod 13:3-4).
62-64 Bissextilem…intercalares: The Julian calendar introduced in 45 BC established the convention of the leap year in order to regularize the practice of compensating for the discrepancy between the solar year and the calendar year by the irregular introduction of extra or ‘intercalary’ days or months. The leap year was known as the ‘bissextile year’ (year of two sixes) owing to the insertion of an intercalary day six days prior to the Calends of March. Cf. Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.13-4.
66 Romulus: Brother to Remus, and legendary first king of Rome, who gave his name to the city.
68 Numa Pompilius: Succeeding Romulus as Rome’s second king, Numa (753-673 BC) was credited with the establishment of much religious ceremonial and observance, as well as with adding the eleventh and twelve months to the calendar year.
72-73 tanquam Janua anni . . . or of the name of the god Janus: Cf. Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.13.3: tanquam bicipitis Dei mense, respicientem ac prospicientem transacti anni finem, futurusque (‘as the month of the two-faced god who looks back to the past year and forward to the beginnings of the one to come’).
Paynims: pagans
73 Janus: The two-faced Italian god of entrances and beginnings, after whom the month of January is named.
Rabbins: rabbis
80 Tisri: ‘The Babylonian name for the first month of the Jewish civil year, or the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year, corresponding to parts of September and October’ (OED). The fact that there are competing Jewish calendars seems relevant to E.K.’s discussion.
81-82 he commaunded . . . moneth: See Lev 23:34: ‘Speake unto the children of Israel, and say, In the fiftienth day of this seventh moneth, shalbe for seven daies the feast of Tabernacles unto the Lord’. Cf. Num 29:12.
Pavilions: tabernacles
84-88 But our Authour respecting nether . . . or canvase a case of so doubtful judgment: E.K. ‘claims that Spenser founds his calendar structure not on scholarly or ecclesiastical principle but on rustic English tradition. . . . Spenser uses native English practice as the radix of calendar reform’ (Chapman 2002: 9).
wening: believing, supposing
seene: well versed

The first eclogue of The Shepheardes Calender, Januarye is also the first to feature Colin Clout, Spenser’s chief persona. The eclogue especially pairs with the sixth and twelfth eclogues, June and December, where Colin again appears as a speaker; but it aligns with the fourth and eighth, Aprill and August, where others rehearse Colin’s songs. This structure gives the Calender a formal symmetry focusing on the poet’s developing career. The central theme of Januarye is the poet’s inability to produce his art under the pressure of unrequited love, narrated in the key event at the end: after his beloved, Rosalind, rejects him, Colin breaks his pipe.

The eclogue divides into three parts. In lines 1-12, a third-person narrator (presumably Immerito, named as the author of ‘To His Booke’) describes Colin leading his emaciated flock from their winter pens into the sun, and then identifies the shepherd as an artist-figure: ‘Well couth he tune his pipe, and frame his stile’ (10). Then, in lines 13-71 Colin sings a ten-stanza complaint addressed to various figures in the natural world—the Gods and Pan, the barren ground, the naked trees, his feeble flock—before recalling how his sight of Rosalind debilitated his art, and he asks Pan for pity. Finally, in lines 72-8 the narrator records how Colin breaks his pipe and lies down, until nighttime rouses him to take his sheep home. Ingeniously, Spenser deploys a single six-line stanza in iambic pentameter, rhyming ababcc (a sixain), to record the voices of both narrator and persona, drawing attention to their interconnectedness.

In focusing on the relation between poetry and desire, the eclogue weds the genres of Virgilian pastoral and Petrarchan lyric, dressing Virgil’s classical shepherd in the guise of the continental Renaissance lover (and the Renaissance lover in that of a classical shepherd). The key source-texts for Colin’s complaint are Virgil’s Eclogue 2, which tells of Corydon’s frustrated desire for the shepherd-boy Alexis; and Petrarch’s Rima Sparse 66, which tells of Petrarch’s turn to the natural world to contend with his frustrated desire over Laura (cf. Jan 63-6n). Consequently, the topic of male friendship intersects with that of male-female sexuality: Colin takes the ‘clownish gifts’ (57) given to him by Hobbinol and ‘gives [them] to Rosalind againe’ (60). E.K.’s gloss on Colin’s rejection of Hobbinol in favor of Rosalind, which refers to ‘some savour of disorderly love, which the learned call paederastice’, evokes a longstanding Western conversation about gender identity, despite E.K.’s insistence that this issue is ‘gathered beside his [the author’s] meaning’ (59 [Goldberg 1990]). The dynamic of adolescent male friendship and traumatic heterosexual desire forms the social dynamic within which Colin produces his youthful art; it is within this dynamic that Rosalind ‘scorne[s]’ his ‘rurall musick’: ‘Shepheards deuise she hateth as the snake’ (64-5).

The shortest of the twelve eclogues at 78 lines, Januarye nonetheless raises important questions at the outset about Spenser’s presentation of his persona. Does Spenser criticize Colin as a ‘failure’, because the shepherd both misgoverns his sheep (Durr 1957: 71) and locates his faith in the world of nature--represented by his invocation of Pan, a pagan nature god--rather than in divine grace (MacCaffrey 1969: 121-2; Moore, 1975)? Or does Spenser focus less on Colin’s religious faith and ethical action in society and more on poetry itself, whether Colin’s use of poetic song to form a human art operative in the world (Alpers 1972: 353, 362) or a narcissistic song of misplaced artistic ambition (Berger 1988: 325-46)? By raising such questions, Januarye sets the problem that the rest of SC will take on: the role of erotic social courtship (Montrose 1979) in the personal religious faith that underwrites the poet’s public art (P. Cheney 1993: 77-110, 2001: 79). Rosalind’s judgment that Colin’s youthful art is snakelike is especially damning, intimating that Spenser here represents an immature poetry that is dangerous, deceptive, and demonic, particularly with respect to female integrity.

Curiously, E.K.’s glosses provide a different, or complementary, lens—not strictly artistic, erotic, religious, or ethical but political. E.K.’s references to Sir Thomas Smith’s (1513-77) treatise on English government, De Republica Anglorum (written 1562-5; published 1583), to John Skelton’s biting satires against Henry VIII’s chief advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, and to Clément Marot, France’s Protestant poet of exile, speak to the poem’s political agenda. This agenda emerges in such resonant phrasing about Colin’s shepherding as ‘ill government’ (45 and note): in the late 1570s, Spenser joins the Leicester-Sidney circle in its disaffection from Queen Elizabeth and her proposed marriage to the French Catholic Duc d’Alençon (McCabe 1999: 520; Pugh 2016: 86, 98, 110).

The woodcut, the most individualized of the twelve, reverses the trajectory of the poet’s ‘failure’ in the eclogue narrative (cf. Luborksy 1981: 24-9; Patterson 1987: 123-4). Colin stands near the center, a broken bagpipe at his feet (symbolizing the art of frustrated desire), in the shadow of a tree (symbolizing Virgilian royal patronage from Eclogue 1). Colin’s disorganized sheep graze behind him, and behind them stands a house, perhaps the shepherd’s, or perhaps Rosalind’s (see Aug 161, 181). Yet Colin faces away from this pastoral scene, toward a hilltop city, marked as Rome by the pointed towers and the Colosseum, in an evocation (at once clear and clashing) of the Virgilian and even Petrarchan poet who writes pastoral beckoning to epic.

Januarye, then, is important for its complex narrative evoking questions about the power of desire (erotic and ethical, political and religious) to affect the role of the poet in England during the late 1570s (cf. L.S. Johnson 1990: 104-14; Kinney 2010).

1 Colin cloute: Spenser’s most recognizable name for his poetic persona, who reappears in Colin Clout and FQ VI.ix-x, is mentioned at Time 225, Daph 229, and TCM VII.vi.40.5, and is the name by which he was known to contemporaries (e.g., Drayton, Shepheards Garland [1593], Eclogue 3.12-4). The name Colin derives from L colonus ‘farmer’ and was associated with lower-class rustics, while the word ‘clout’ could mean piece of cloth, esp. a rag, but also a clod of earth. Thus the full name identifies Spenser’s persona as a spokesman for the common man, or populace, and was used as such by Skelton. In the anticlerical poem Collyn Clout, Skelton uses Collyn to attack Cardinal Wolsey at the court of Henry VIII for clerical abuse, presenting the title figure as a prophetic poet with a plain-speaking voice. Subsequently, the name ‘Colin Clout’ came to evoke ‘an entire tradition of Reformist literature’ (Griffiths 2006: 167). Marot also introduces a pastoral speaker named Colin in Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye, a funeral elegy on the mother of Francis I and a major source-text for November (see headnote and note on ‘Marot’ in the Arg). Finally, as E.K. points out in his gloss, the idea of an authorial pastoral persona traces to antiquity, and principally to Virgil’s Tityrus in Eclogues 1 and 6. Importantly, however, the name Colin Clout is one of ‘eleven speakers in The Shepheardes Calender’ but ‘not one has a classical name’ (A. Fowler 2012: 34).
1-2 complaineth . . . unfortunate love: The nominal theme of the eclogue, unrequited love, which unfolds variously in the other five Colin Clout eclogues.
3 Rosalinde: Spanish and Italian for ‘beautiful rose’—evidently a Spenserian invention (although it is a variation on the traditional ‘Rosamond’ (as in Chaucer’s ‘To Rosemounde’, and most famously The Romance of the Rose). Rosalinde’s name appears in six eclogues (Jan 60, Apr 27, June 44, 115, Aug 141, Nov 44, Dec 113, 156) and in Colin Clout (908, 926), but she herself never appears as a character inside the fiction. As E.K.’s gloss makes clear, the name is a pseudonym designed to conceal Rosalind’s real-life identity; speculations include Spenser’s first wife, Machabyas Childe, Mary Sidney Herbert, and even Queen Elizabeth (SpE s.v. ‘Rosalind’; see Hadfield 2012: 143-7). In the Letters, published the year after SC, Gabriel Harvey calls the mistress of Spenser ‘altera Rosalindula’ (3.595: ‘another little Rosalind’). The name has had a robust afterlife in English literature, starting with Thomas Lodge’s prose romance Rosalynde (1590) and subsequently Shakespeare’s memorable heroine in As You Like It (as well as Rosaline in Love’s Labor’s Lost and the absent ‘Rosaline’ in Romeo and Juliet). For the pairing of Rosalind with Colin as an ideal couple, see Drayton, Shepheards Garland, Eclogue 8.231-2; Phineas Fletcher, Piscatorie Eclogs (1633), ‘To my beloved Thenot in answer of his verse’ 22-3.
traveled: travailed, burdened
4-6 compareth . . . flocke: The central conceit of the eclogue, which compares the stages of life with the seasons of the year, a shepherd to his flock, etc.
carefull: full of care or grief
6-7 robbed of all former pleasaunce and delights: Sets apart Spenser’s opening eclogue—and SC generally—from the traditional pastoral of pleasure (on which, see Poggioli 1975; H.D. Smith 1952: 2).
7 breaketh his Pipe: A second major theme to the eclogue, the refusal to sing or write more poetry (known as recusatio, a classical device by which poets simultaneously advertise their plan to move into a higher form of poetry).
7 Pipe: The oaten reed or panpipe, the instrument and symbol of poetic song and pastoral writing in Theocritus, Virgil, and their continental heirs. Cf. the woodcut, which depicts bagpipes; Dec 141-2.
1 A Shepeheards boye (no better doe him call): Evokes an awareness of status. Parentheses recur throughout SC: ‘by their nature [they] signal a shift in tone . . . interruption, explanation, qualification, or digression. Parentheses therefore effect a fresh—if fleeting—focus on language as speech: they suggest a voice, . . . the mind and person that produces that voice, . . . suggesting a submissive protest to a matter that is proceeding along unprotested’ (Sagaser 1992: 95). Cf. Fletcher’s imitation in Piscatorie Eclogs 3.1: ‘A Fisher-lad (no higher dares he look)’. Fletcher also imitates Jan 13-20 and 25-6. Cf. Dec 1 and note, where Colin is no longer a ‘boye’ but ‘The gentle shepheard’.
wastful: creating desolation
2 wastful: The concept of waste recurs at 19 and 38. Moreover, waste becomes a ‘chorused word’ that opens into other eclogues, registering Spenser’s ‘evaluative language’, which here brings together a bleak landscape with a debilitating human expenditure (Hoffman 1977: 47).
3 as did befall: ‘As it happened’; but the phrase also evokes a sense of chance.
ypent: penned up
4 ypent: Used elsewhere in Spenser’s poetry only at Julye 216.
woxe: waxed, grew
unnethes: not easily, with difficulty, hardly
6 unnethes: E.K.
7 All as the Sheepe . . . shepeheards looke: The shepherd-sheep comparison is a commonplace of pastoral. See Julye 129-32, Sept 141. The line echoes proverbs with similar formats. See Petronius, Satire 58: qualis dominus, talis et servus (‘like master, like man’); Hos 4:9: ‘And there shalbe like people, like Priest: for I wil visite their wayes upon them, and reward them their deedes.’
care: sorrow, anxiety;
tooke: suffered
9 May seeme he lovd, or els some care he tooke: The word ‘seem’ was often used without ‘it’. Cf. Feb 77, Maye 211, Oct 27. The use of ‘seem’ in this way will become a signature of the Spenserian narrator, a character who observes from a distance and interprets what he sees (as established prominently in FQ: e.g., I.i.1.8, I.i.2.8).
couth: E.K.
10 tune his pipe: ‘Bring his pipe into accord with the feeling of his subject’; ‘control his art effectively’.
10 frame his stile: ‘Write his poem’; ‘voice his discourse’; ‘direct his pen.’ The word ‘stile’ comes from L stilus, an instrument used to write on wax tablets. OED defines ‘style’ as ‘an instrument made of metal, bone, etc.’ and used for writing, as well as ‘the manner of expression characteristic of a particular writer’. Here, ‘Spenser manages to deflect the center of interest from Colin and his landscape toward the stylizations and workings of the eclogue itself’ (Mallette 1981: 28)
Tho: then; faynting: feeble, sluggish
11 hill: A pastoral site of poetic inspiration and composition—a diminutive Mt. Parnassus, home of the Muses (see Julye 45-8 and E.K.’s gloss).
playnd: complained, lamented
12 playnd: ‘[W]e see play in playnd. . . : the metamorphosis of pain into poetry’ (Berger 1988: 330).
13-71 Ye Gods of love . . . the while abye: Colin addresses his complaint to a series of imagined listeners: the natural world, the gods of love, Pan, the ground, the trees, his flock, and finally his pipe. Colin’s address to Pan especially makes clear the topic of faith at issue throughout the complaint, which constitutes the first of several set-pieces in SC (e.g., Colin’s lay of Elisa in Aprill, his sestina on Rosalind in August, and his elegy on Dido in November).
13-14 pitie . . . pitie: Rhetorical figure of chiasmus (inversion of word order in succeeding clause); more specifically, antimetabole, an inverted structure that uses the same words.
16 dolefull dittie: A grief-filled song or poem. OED says that ‘ditty’ is ‘often used of the songs of birds, or applied depreciatively’. Cf. Apr 29, Oct 13, Dec 14.
17-18 And Pan . . . thy selfe didst prove: See Apr 50-1. For Pan’s love of Syrinx, see Ovid, Met 1.689-712. Rejecting Pan’s love, Syrinx asks her river-nymph sisters to turn her into a syrinx or reed; Pan reaches for her but finds himself embracing an armful of reeds; sighing into it, he invents the panpipe. Pan and Syrinx form the mythological model for Colin’s complaint to Rosalind; it is ‘the poem’s underlying plaintive/recreative myth’, in which ‘Pan is an archetype of the creative power of the human spirit’ (Montrose 1979: 38).
17 Pan: The presiding deity of pastoral poetry. Pan was an erotic Arcadian god of the woodlands, of music, and of shepherds, identified with nature but also with the cosmos, eventually Christ, and sometimes kings (Lotspeich 1965, s.v. ‘Pan’). Cf. Apr 51, Maye 54, Dec 7. Pan was half man and half goat, in some accounts the son of Mercury (god of eloquence, grammar, and music) and Penelope (wife of Odysseus). Cf. Virgil, Ecl 2.31-3. Pan’s alternative name, Inuus (from L ineo, ‘enter, begin’), identifies him with Janus, god of January; see Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.22.2.
prove: experience, suffer
19-42 Thou barrein ground . . . the ysicles depend: For similar conceits, see June 95-101, Nov 123-35. Spenser’s depiction of the wintry landscape echoes Sackville’s Induction to Mirror for Magistrates 1-21, a work introducing a series of cautionary tales to leaders in positions of political power (Bush, Var 7: 248-9). For the association between love melancholy and winter, see also Petrarch, RS 66.
20 Art made a myrrhour: A complex play on ‘art’, ‘made’, and ‘mirror’, linking Orpheus with Narcissus, the story of a boy who looks into a mirrorlike pool with the story of a musician-poet who uses his art to remake nature after having lost his wife (Berger 1988: 332-7). For the mirror image, see also Maye 274, Oct 93.
Whilome: in the past, some time ago, once upon a time
dight: dress, clothe, make
22 Daffadillies dight: ‘[D]affadillies is northern [in dialect], dight is both archaic and northern’, forming SC’s introduction of Spenser as a ‘dialect poet, a regional author who . . . self-consciously defined his work in terms of a marginalized, provincial culture’, in opposition to ‘the courtly London poet’: ‘The author of the Shepheardes Calender, in his own account, is an outsider’ (Blank 1992: 86, 72).
22 Daffadillies: Not the daffodil but the white or yellow asphodel, whose leaves provide sheep with fodder.
22 dight: Spenser uses the verb throughout SC (e.g., Apr 29, Dec 114); it tends to mean either ‘clothe’ or ‘make’ (or both), and six of the uses are associated with flowers, often in a vocational context (e.g., making garlands), suggesting rhetorical ornament. Thus, for Spenser ‘dight’ becomes a key verb for the ornamental art of making ‘laureate’ poetry.
24 mantle: A natural covering but also a blanket or cloth covering, often made of wool. Cf. Jan 75, Nov 85, 128. Both ‘mantle’ and ‘maskedst’ are terms of costume and performance (see ‘clothd’ at 33 and ‘dight’ at 22).
24 maskedst: A term from reveling and masquerading, which Spenser tends to use as a vocational term (Maye 2, Nov 19).
unkindly: unnatural; hurtful
stoures: turmoils, upheavals, emotional crises
27 stoures: See OED: ‘Used by Spenser and his imitators for: Time of turmoil and stress. Obs.’ Cf. Jan [51].
27 stormy stoures: Repeated at Maye 156.
27 balefull smart: ‘Painful pain’ (rhetorical figure of pleonasm); ‘painful suffering’ (an early example of ‘baleful’ in this sense).
29-30 And yet alas . . . yt is already donne: Cf. Dec 29-30.
spring: youth
34 bloosmes: Conveys the idea of a mass of flowers. Subsequent quartos change to ‘blosomes’ or ‘blossomes’. Yet OED records Middle English 'blosme' as an acceptable spelling.  In SC, Spenser uses the word and its cognates 8 times; of these, only Maye 8 reads 'bloosming', while Dec 103 prints 'bloosmes'.
37 sere: E.K.
38 My timely buds with wayling all are wasted: The phrasing implicates Colin’s complaint and song in the natural process of seasonal wasting.
depend: hang down
43-48 Thou feeble flocke . . . pyning mourne: Cf. Aug 17-20. For the pastoral convention relating love melancholy to sheep-neglect, see Theocritus, Idylls 11.12-16, Virgil, Ecl 3.3-6. This stanza has been singled out for its reliance on multiple rhetorical figures: anaphora at 43-4 (repetition of a word at the beginning of a clause: ‘whose . . . whose’); double parison (an even balance of clauses); alliteration at 47 (‘Thou weake, I wanne: thou leane, I quite forlorne’); antimetabole at 48 (reversal of a phrase at the beginning and ending of a line: ‘mourning pyne . . . pyning mourne’) (Rix, Var 7: 246).
evill: unwholesome
44 knees . . . fare: Cf. Ps 109:24: ‘My knees are weak through fasting’.
ill government: poor care
45 ill government: The word ‘government’ appears only here in SC (cf. ‘governance’ at Maye 121 and ‘misgovernaunce’ at Nov 4), and identifies Colin as a governor, a leader and manager of his flock, in accord with humanist teaching about the educated individual who contributes to the state (as in Sir Thomas Elyot’s The Boke Named the Governour [1531]). The word thus consolidates a line of political discourse that appears in several of E.K.’s glosses: from his references to Marot and Skelton at Jan [1], to his reference to Smith’s ‘booke of goverment’ in his gloss on ‘couth’ at Jan [10].
pyne: waste from grief
48 pyne: Cf. Perigot at Aug 18, 109.
49-53 A thousand sithes . . . such sight hath bred my bane: These lines echo Petrarch’s first sight of Laura in RS 61. RS 23.21-40 also portrays the immediacy of love and its after-effects.
49-50 A thousand sithes . . . neighbour towne to see: Cf. Feb 71-7, Apr 21, June 19-20, 50, Julye 44, 75-9, Sept 150-3, which suggest that much of SC was written in Kent or Surrey.
49 sithes: E.K. glosses ‘sythe’ as ‘time’, yet there may be a pun on ‘sigh’.
49 Jan 49: hower,] 1581 corrects the obvious mispunctuation; the adjustment to ‘houre’ in 1591 may reflect a desire to enforce a ten-syllable line or to assert eye-rhyme with ‘stoure’ (51).
50 neighbour towne: E.K.’s gloss of ‘the next towne’ requires supplement, since town can mean variously ‘An enclosed place’, ‘a village or hamlet with little or no local organization’, or ‘an inhabited place . . . more regularly built than a village, and having more complete and independent local government’ (OED). Because Colin is a shepherd, his reference to the town where Rosalind lives suggests a geographical movement from countryside to town or city, hinting at a corresponding change in literary genres, from pastoral to epic. The change is frustrated and then finalized when Colin breaks his pipe. Cf. Googe, Eclogue 3.147-9, who contrasts ‘towne’ with ‘downe,’ the city with the country. See note on Sept Arg under ‘Diggon’.
51 stoure: E.K. See 27n.
bane: woe; ruin
54 Ah God . . . joy and payne: Cf. Horace, Sermones 2.3.267-8: in amore haec sunt mala, bellum, pax rursum (‘In love inhere these evils—first war, then peace’). Later, the oxymoron of joy as pain becomes common in Petrarchism.
55-60 It is not Hobbinol . . . Rosalind againe: As E.K. points out in his gloss, Spenser imitates Virgil, Ecl 2.56-7, where Alexis criticizes Corydon for giving him gifts.
55-56 plaine . . . suite: The words ‘have a kind of quasi-legal resonance’, used ‘to describe [Colin’s] . . . relationship with the forward Hobbinol’ (Zurcher 2007: 75).
55 Hobbinol: The name Spenser gives to his friend at Cambridge, Gabriel Harvey, as identified by E.K. at Sept [176]. Hobbinol appears as an interlocutor in Apr, June, and Sept, while in Dec Colin addresses him in his verse (45, 155). The name derives from hob, ‘rustic’ + noll, ‘head’. Also, a hoball was a clown or idiot (see OED). Hobbinol also shows up as a shepherd in Colin Clout, while Harvey signs his name ‘Hobynoll’ at FQ CV Hobynoll.
57-58 His clownish gifts . . . and his early fruit: E.K. Often in pastoral, a character in the fiction outwardly expresses loss while the poet manages to evoke concrete features of the good life.
clownish: rustic; curtsies: courteous acts, gifts
cracknelles: a light, crisp biscuit of hollow shape
58 cracknelles: Cf. Nov 96.
bene: are
60 Rosalind: E.K.
thilke: this, or that
61 I love thilke lasse, (alas why doe I love?): As E.K. notes, an epanorthosis or rhetorical figure that corrects what was just said. The figure recurs at 62; see 1n.
lorne: left
62 lorne: See Sept [57].
63-66 Shee deignes not . . . doth make: Spenser revises Virgil, Ecl 8.33-4, where Nysa hates Damon’s person, his art, and men in general (Berger 1988: 38): tibi est odio mea fistula, dumque capellae / hirsutumque supercilium promissaque barba (‘while thou scornest all men, and while thou hatest my pipe and my goats, my shaggy eyebrows and unkempt beard’). Cf. Virgil, Ecl 2.6, 3.71, 8.33 (Pugh 2016: 89). See also Petrarch, RS 239.11-12 for Laura as quella nobil alma / che non curò giamai rime né versi (‘that noble soul / that never cared for rhymes or verses’), and RS 239.29-30: ’n versi tento sorda et rigida alma / che né forza d’Amor prezza né note (‘in verses I woo a deaf and rigid soul / who esteems neither the power of Love nor his notes’).
63 deignes not: ‘Refuses to accept graciously’.
devise: song, speech, invention, conceit, trick, artful making
65 devise: Has a wide range of meanings, from the action of devising, making, and singing to that of contriving, plotting, and tricking; it could also have heraldic associations, ‘An emblematic figure or design’; finally, it could have erotic associations: ‘Will, pleasure, inclination, fancy, desire’ (OED). As Colin uses the phrase, a ‘Shepheards devise’ is a pastoral song or poem, occurring in the social setting between male and female, and having a Petrarchan goal of erotic courtship.
65 snake: ‘Used to denote some lurking danger . . esp. in the phr. snake in the grass (after Virgil, Ecl 3.93 Latet anguis in herba)’ (OED). For Spenser’s audience, the word ‘snake’ likely had Satanic connotation.
make: compose
67-72 Wherefore my pype . . . dyd lye: See Virgil, Ecl 1.77 for Meliboeus’ abandonment of poetry. Spenser transposes Virgil’s design, identifying Colin not with the persona figure, Tityrus, who sits serenely under a beech tree to sing his song, but with Meliboeus, who has had his land dispossessed by the authorities in Rome. Pugh 2016 also cites Ecl 3.71, 10.60-3 (2016: 90). Moreover, the passage introduces the Petrarchan ‘counter-topos of the impossibility of finding any cure for love’, which constitutes one of ‘the two thematic poles which maintain the figure of Colin in an ambiguous state of what seems to be arrested development through the Shepheardes Calender’, the other pole being the Theocritean ‘topos of a cure for love through poetry’ (Walker 1979: 354). See, e.g., Theocritus, Idylls 11.1-5; Petrarch, RS 75.1-6.
rude: rustic
69-70 unlucky Muse . . . musing mynd: Polyptoton, a rhetorical figure that repeats a word in different cases or inflections within the same sentence. (See also 67-8 for ‘please . . . pleasest’.) The device seems to have caught Milton’s eye in Lycidas: ‘So may some gentle Muse / With lucky words favor my destin’d Urn’ (19-20).
70 musing: Can mean both ‘worrisome’ and ‘contemplative’ (OED). The phrase ‘musing mynd’ is evocative of Spenser’s emphasis on poetic inwardness in this eclogue; cf. note below on ‘pensife boy’.
71 shall sore the while abye: Can mean ‘pay for a while’ but more emphatically ‘pay the price’. Since this is the last line of Colin’s complaint, it is broken off, compelling the narrator to complete the rhyme in the next line.
72 So broke his oaten pype, and downe dyd lye: The major event in the eclogue. Cf. Apr 3, 15, Nov 71, Dec 141.
72 oaten pype: L avena can mean both ‘oats’ and ‘panpipe’; the Latin word also has avian associations: avis, ‘bird’ (P. Cheney 1993, 265n45). See also Oct woodcut.
73-78 By . . . weepe: More than half the eclogues conclude with this convention, evident in Virgil, Boccaccio, Mantuan, and Marot, in which the end of the fiction coincides with the end of the day, suggesting a link between temporality and art, appropriate for a pastoral titled The Shepheardes Calender.
welked: faded, diminished in brightness
73 welked: Cf. Nov [13].
73 Phœbus: Apollo, the sun god who drives his chariot across the sky.
73 availe: E.K.
waine: wagon
74 waine: For a description of Apollo’s chariot, see Ovid, Met 2.107-77.
75 overhaile: E.K. ‘Draw over as a cover’ (OED); the usage is rare if not original to Spenser.
pensife: sad, brooding
76 pensife: Summarizes the inwardness characterizing Colin, drawing together such earlier words as ‘heart’, ‘mind’, ‘longed’, ‘see’, ‘musing’.
77 homeward: Versions of the word ‘home’ or its concept appear at the end of nine SC eclogues, usually in the last or penultimate line. The concept overcomes traditional pastoral ‘stasis’ (Oram 1989: 3) by moving the fiction from the natural to the domestic, as well as introducing the prospect of consolation.
78 Whose hanging heads . . . to weepe: An alexandrine (six metrical feet); the line will become the conclusion to the Spenserian stanza of FQ.
78 case: ‘[M]ay refer to Colin’s grief or to his art’ (Berger 1988: 345).
80 Anchôra Speme: It ancóra (‘still’) + speme (‘hope’), punning on àncora, anchor, symbol of religious hope. See Heb 6:19: ‘Which we have, as an ancre of the soule, bothe sure and stedfast.’ See also Fidelia with her anchor at FQ I.x.14. The eminent Venetian printer Aldus Manutius adopted the device of the dolphin coiled around the anchor, together with the Latin motto anchora spei; following Aldus, William Ponsonby, who printed Spenser’s FH and 1596 FQ, adopted the same emblem.
unlikelyhood: dissimilarity, discrepancy
2 Skeltons: See note to Jan Arg.
10-11 As well . . . wrytings: Sir Thomas Smith was the first Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge, and served as Queen Elizabeth’s ambassador to France. Since his influential treatise De Republica Anglorum was not published till after SC, E.K. must have read it in MS. In 1570, Smith helped Gabriel Harvey get a fellowship at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge; Harvey wrote a series of Latin elegies, Smithus (1578), in honor of his benefactor (see Hadfield 2012: 63-6, 88-91). E.K.’s comment invites the reader to view both Januarye and SC in light of Smith’s emphasis on the importance of the people and the parliament in the governing of the monarchy, a tripartite entity that forms ‘The Monarchical Republic of Queen Elizabeth I’ (Collinson 1997: title). See Introduction.
16 expressing the Latine Vicina: ‘the very word vicina is suggestively apt, as it denotes a locale that is at once elsewhere and close at hand, remote and proximate’, and suggesting that Colin’s ‘alienation’ is ‘the paradoxically enabling condition of a truly native eloquence’: ‘exile . . . is . . . strangely productive’ (Nicholson 2014: 112).
20 Rusticus . . . Alexis: See Virgil, Ecl 2.56: ‘Corydon, you are a clown! Alexis cares naught for gifts.’ With Ovid’s myth of Pan and Syrinx, Virgil’s second eclogue becomes an important model for Colin’s complaint.
pæderastice: love of boys;
gynerastice: love of women
27-37 For who that hath . . . and others: See Plato, Alcibiades 1.131; Xenophon, Symposium 8; Maximus Tyrius, Dissertations 21.8h.
32 pæderastice: For the classical tradition of male friendship within a pastoral setting, see Theocritus, Idylls 23; Virgil, Ecl 2. Cf. Googe, Eclogue 1, where the older shepherd Amintas warns the young shepherd Daphnis to avoid the unlawful love of Jove for Ganymede. The erotic topic of E.K’s commentary here is connected to his scholarly method of flirtatious intimacy as a humanist commentator throughout (Wallace 2007: 159-61).
34 Lucian: Greek author (c.115-c.200) of ironic dialogues. Although he was studied and imitated by More and Erasmus, he was criticized for his amorality. In 1578, Spenser wagered Harvey for a four-volume edition of Lucian (Stern 1979: 228).
26 gathered . . . meaning: ‘Above and beyond the author’s intention.’ E.K. manages to walk a fine line between arousing suspicion of pederasty and closing that suspicion down. That is to say, he does both.
31 person . . . soule: The Platonic paradigm of material or corporeal thing and abstract or spiritual idea.
35 hys develish disciple Unico Aretino: An error for Pietro Aretino (1492-1556), notorious for pornographic dialogues and comedies. The epithet Unico was the badge of another Aretine, Bernardo Accolti, mentioned by Harvey at Letters 2.588-9.
37 Perionius: Joachim Pèrion (1499?-1559), Benedictine humanist. Evidently, E.K. refers to Pèrion’s attack on Aretino, In Petrum Aretinum Oratio (Paris, 1551).
Asteris: star
Ianthis: violet
41 wel ordered: A cryptic phrase. It might refer simply to the appropriateness of Rosalind’s name for the occasion at hand, or it might refer to her name ‘being an anagram for Elisa Regina’ (McLane 1960: 32).
43-45 So as Ovide . . . wyfe to Agryppa: On the tradition of disguising a beloved’s true name, see Ovid, Tristia 4.10.60: nomine non vero dicta Corinna mihi (‘whom I called, not by a real name Corinna’). Renaissance writers believed that Ovid’s relationship with Julia was a cause of his exile from Rome.
45-47 So doth Aruntius Stella . . . in his Epithalamium: Aruntius Stella (Consul c. 101 A.D.) was a patron and friend of Statius and Martial. Statius wrote a poem on the occasion of Stella’s marriage, ‘An Epithalamium in Honour of Stella and Violentilla,’ Silvae 1.2. Part of E.K.’s statement is based on lines 197-8: Asteris et vatis totam cantata per urbem / Asteris ante dapes, nocte Asteris, Asteris ortu (‘the whole city sang of the poet’s Asteris, before the banquet Asteris, Asteris at night, Asteris at dawn of day’). Martial records that Stella called his lady Ianthis (Epigrams 7.14.5).
48-49 And so the famous . . . name of Zima: Refers to Lettre Amorose di Madonna Celia Gentildonna Romana. Scritte al suo Amante (1562). Most likely, E.K refers to the preliminary note, which reports that the lady calls herself sometimes Celia and sometimes Zima.
53-54 Jan gl 53-4: The displacement of E.K.s final gloss on the eclogue is not repaired until 1611.
38 Epanorthosis: See 61n.

Februarie is notable for its verse achievement in poetic narrative. In 1586, William Webbe first admired the ‘Sheepeheardes homelyst talke’ (Var 7: 253), and the admiration continued in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, with William Hazlitt calling the inset fable of the Oak and the Briar ‘as splendid a piece of oratory as any found in the records of the eloquence of the British senate’ (Friedland 1954: 224). Yet Hazlitt’s political metaphor from the Roman Republic also speaks to the particular way that Spenser harnesses poetic eloquence here: on behalf of a ‘British’ nation committed to free debate.

Spenser’s oratory divides into three parts: 1) lines 1-101 feature a sometimes rancorous debate between the younger shepherd Cuddie and the older Thenot on the topic of youth and age; 2) lines 102-238 present Thenot telling Cuddie a fable of the Oak and the Briar about the arrogance of youth undercutting the authority of age, only to destroy itself; and 3) lines 239-46 show Cuddie’s biting rejection of the moral utility of Thenot’s fable.

To accomplish such a ‘homely’ narrative, Spenser relies on rugged tetrameter couplets with an often coarse and archaic diction. The lines vary from eight to ten syllables, and the baseline iambic meter frequently modulates through anapests (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one). By writing so many lines having four beats with stresses tending to fall on the heavy alliteration, the poet evokes the medieval tradition of Piers Plowman and the pseudo-Chaucerian Plowman’s Tale, important to the Protestant reform movement. This helps explain the first appearance in SC of ‘Tityrus’, the shepherd whom Thenot cites as the inventor of the fable, and whom Cuddie admires, bringing to their rancor an unusual moment of accord. Tityrus, we learn, is Chaucer, and the reference allows Februarie to record Spenser’s own budding genealogy as England’s national poet.

The shepherds’ debate evokes several controversies taking place in mid-Elizabethan culture: about the relative merits of youth and age (Cullen 1970: 34-41); about court patronage, in which warring factions at the Elizabethan court vie for power, the younger generation vying for authority with the older one (Hoffman 1978: 92-7; Montrose 1981; Bond 1981; Patterson 1991: 59-61, 88-9); about Protestant attacks on both older Catholic faith and younger Protestant radicalism (Hume 1984: 43-4; J.N. King 1990: 34); and about opposing Elizabethan poetics (Berger 1988: 425; Halpern 1991: 176-214; Pugh 2005: 30-4), including the two major poetics of the 1570s: Cuddie’s courtly ‘amateur’ art, which features delightful love stories without an ethical end; and Thenot’s older ‘humanist’ art, which insists on moral instruction (P. Cheney 2002). Not just good storytelling, Februarie packs in a wide cultural conversation.

The central precursor text for the eclogue’s showpiece, the fable of the Oak and the Briar, is Aesop’s The Bush and the Aubyer, in which a tree persuades a woodsman to cut down a rival tree, although Spenser superimposes onto this a poem from the reign of Edward VI, The Hospitable Oake, which uses Virgilian allusions to represent powerful patrons as vulnerable shade trees (Patterson 1991: 60-1). Yet in the background is likely Gascoigne’s Princely Pleasures of Kenilworth Castle (1576), in which Queen Complacida (she who pleases everyone) metamorphoses an oak of Constancy and a briar of Contention (Friedland 1954; Watson 1993), in an allegory featuring Queen Elizabeth’s favoring of the earl of Leicester, patron of Gascoigne (and later, Spenser). Perhaps also applicable is the first fable in The Seven Ages of Rome, a medieval romance popular in the sixteenth century (Roberts 1950). These subtexts gesture to the social, political, and religious issues resonating in Februarie.

The woodcut is impressively done, and gestures to these issues as well, with the two debating shepherds standing in the center, their hands nearly touching in accord, balanced by their flocks standing behind them (Thenot, sheep; Cuddie, bullocks). To the right, behind Cuddie, are the emblems of the fable: a husbandman cutting down a tall tree, with a briar standing in its shadow—curiously being eaten by one of the bullocks. To the left, behind Thenot, are buildings that evoke the institutions of church and state.

Both the content of Februarie and its archaic prosody link it with the ecclesiastical eclogues, Maye, Julye, and September, and, together with October, they form what E.K. calls the ‘moral’ eclogues (see note below on Arg ‘morall’). Moreover, Februarie stands out from the eclogue it follows, Januarye, which has featured a smoother poetic surface and a solo artist, Colin Clout. Not merely splendid narrative, Februarie is among the most sophisticated of the eclogues, relying self-consciously on rugged poetic meter to air—rather than simply ‘moralize’ (FQ I.pr.1.9)--social, religious, political, and finally poetic debates. Indeed, Spenser’s ability to contain cultural debate within a verse narrative that manages to balance resonance with restraint demonstrates his emerging authority as a leading voice in ‘the British senate’.

1 morall: ‘Didactic, edifying’, but also said ‘Of a literary work, an artistic or dramatic representation’ (OED, citing, e.g., ‘Chaucer Melibeus 2130 It is a moral tale virtuous’). In the General Argument, E.K. classifies Februarie according to the ‘three formes or ranckes’ of eclogues: ‘Plaintive . . . recreative . . . Moral.’ The moral eclogues, identified as Februarye, Maye, Julye, September, and October, ‘for the most part be mixed with some Satyrical bitternesse’ (24-7). Yet E.K.’s three-form structure appears in the three worlds of Februarie itself: ‘recreative’, in Cuddie’s ‘world of joy and delight’; ‘Plaintive’, in Thenot’s counter-world of ‘loss’ and ‘lamentation’; and ‘Moral’, in the world of Thenot’s fable of the Oak and the Briar, ‘where actions are defined in ethical terms’ (Shore 1985: 25).
generall: universal, with wide application
1-2 then bent to any secrete or particular purpose: E.K. implies a contrast with Januarye. Despite the disclaimer, critics for four centuries have speculated on the secret purpose of Februarie (see headnote).
2-4 discourse of old age . . . Heardmans boye: Introduces the nominal theme of the eclogue: a debate between youth and age.
3 Thenot: Named after a figure in Marot’s Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye, the model for November, where Thenot also appears, as he does in Aprill. See E.K.’s gloss.
4 unlustinesse: ‘Lack of strength or vigor’, with sexual connotation.
4 Cuddie: Abbreviation for Cuthbert: northern dialect. Cuddie reappears in August, where he judges the singing contest between Willye and Perigot, and in October, where E.K. says Cuddie ‘set[s] out the perfecte paterne of a Poete’ (Arg), as well as in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe.
5-6 yeare . . . last age: The vernal equinox occurs in March, the beginning of the legal year during the sixteenth century (cf. E.K.’s Gen Arg). It was a commonplace to equate the four seasons of the year with the four ages of man.
crudled: curdled, thickened, clotted
8 crudled: A metathesis of ‘curdled’, perhaps derived from Spenser’s teacher at Merchant Taylors’ School, Richard Mulcaster, whose Elementarie (not published till 1582) uses the word.
10-11 so lively and so feelingly: Readers have long agreed with E.K. in their response to the eclogue’s narrative verve (see headnote).
lively: lifelike
11 lively: ‘[T]hat brings the subject to life; that represents the original faithfully’ (OED, citing FQ II.ix.2.9). Spenser recurrently uses the term to describe the working of art and poetry.
11 some Picture: On the commonplace association of poetry with painting (ut pictura poesis), see Horace, Ars Poetica 361-5; Plutarch, How the young man should study poetry 3; Scaliger, Poetices 1.1; P. Sidney, Defence of Poetry 221.
ginne: begin
2 ginne: The form of ‘begin’ used recurrently in SC (see, e.g., Feb 39).
3 kene: E.K.
4 gryde: E.K.
5 rontes: E.K.
doen: do
6 doen: Archaic for ‘do’ (OED).
wrigle: wriggling
7 They wont . . . tailes: ‘They would often shake their tails in the wind’.
Perke: pert, brisk, self-satisfied, assertive; avales: droops, falls
8 Peacock: A traditional figure of flashy pride or displayed arrogance. See March 80, Oct 31.
8 nowe it avales: The pronoun ‘it’ may refer either to ‘tails’ or to ‘wind’.
Lewdly: foolishly
10 wracke: E.K.
11-14 Must not the world . . . to his former fall: For the commonplace of cyclical history, see Maye 103-31. For a comparison of the aging of man to the decline of the world, see T. Smith, De Republica Anglorum, p. 4 (1.4).
11-12 world . . . worse: Spenser will return to the (false, punning) etymology that links 'world' to 'worse' at Sept 108 (‘They sayne the world is much war than it wont’, where E.K. glosses ‘war’ as ‘worse’), and he will recycle it with a difference at FQ IV.viii.31.6-7 (‘when the world woxe old, it woxe warre old, / [Whereof it hight])’.
11 wend: ‘Change from one state to another’.
14 former fall: The original fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (ME forme means earliest).
Who: he who
16 lusty prime: Pleasant spring, with prime also meaning first age, the return of Edenic innocence. The word ‘lusty’ also has connotations of both self-confidence and sexual vigor (OED).
threttie: thirty
17 thrise threttie: Ninety is a number of renewal in Scripture, especially aged renewal through childbirth. In Gen 5:9 and 17:17, Enosh and Sarah each become parents at ninety.
21-24 Ne ever was to Fortune foeman . . . they mought well fare: Identifies Thenot as a ‘Christian stoic,’ able to endure the buffets of fortune and to act ethically in society, in contrast to Cuddie with his ‘thoughtless hedonism’ (J.N. King 1990: 32).
21-22 foeman . . . came: A rare instance in SC of assonance for rhyme.
21 Fortune: The goddess of cyclical experience, conventionally depicted with a wheel. Yet the randomness of Fortune (misfortune) is both the core concept in Thenot’s moral philosophy and one of the major themes of SC; his emphasis on the role of Fortune here contrasts with his emphasis on human agency (esp. envy) in the fable of the Oak and Briar (Bond 1981: 55-6).
21 foeman: E.K.
gently: mildly, but intimating gentility
26 Cherefully. . . cheare: The rhetorical figure of ploce, the repetition of a word in close proximity having different meanings. ‘Cherefully’ means ‘cheerfully’; ‘cheare’, either ‘face’ or ‘mood’.
27-29 For Age . . . lookes downe: Cf. Ovid, Met 15.212: Inde senilis hiems tremulo venit horrida passu (‘And then comes aged winter, with faltering step and shivering’).
accord full nie: correspond exactly
wrye: awry, bent
29 lowring Wether: The spelling and capitalization of ‘Wether’ personifies the frowning weather as the Ram, Aries, the first astrological sign of spring (in February, still a month away). A ‘wether’ is a ram (or male sheep), especially a castrated one.
30 So semest thou . . . to frowne: See Luke 23:44-5 for the sky becoming overcast as the crucifixion approaches. The image becomes proverbial. February is typically the month when Lent begins.
unwont: unaccustomed, unused
35-50 So loytring . . . and misery: Embroiders Mantuan, Eclogues 6.19-24, perhaps through Turberville’s 1567 translation (pp. 53-4).
35-36 So loytring . . . broomes: A striking imitation (as E.K. notes) of Chaucer’s House of Fame 1225-6, which dilates briefly on pastoral: ‘As han thise lytel herde-gromes / That kepen bestis in the bromes’.
loytring: idling
heardgroomes: a herdsman, shepherd, or young shepherd
36 broomes: A spring-flowering shrub, common to heath and pasture.
deemen: deem, think, believe, judge
attonce: once for all
fond: foolish
39 fond flyes: E.K.
40 And crowing . . . corne: A clear imitation of Chaucer, House of Fame 1224: ‘And pipes made of grene corn.’ Thus, Spenser divides his imitation of House of Fame 1224-6 across lines 35-40. The crow is a traditional image of the false, cacophonous poet, from Pindar (Olympian Odes 2.85-87) to George Whetstone (‘Dedication’ to Promos and Cassandra [1578] in G.G. Smith 1: 60). As such, the crow is the antagonist of the sweet-singing nightingale, referred to at Feb 123 (see note). For the crow as the antagonist of Colin Clout, see Dec 136 and note. See also Sept 46.
41 You thinken . . . yeare: Lords of misrule: OED, citing Grindal, Injunction at York: ‘The Minister and churchwardens shall not suffer any Lords of misrule or Summer Lords . . . to come unreverently into any Church’ (see McLane 1961: 153).
eft: afterwards
43 breme: E.K.
43 chamfred: E.K. An architectural term meaning ‘Channelled, fluted, furrowed, grooved’ (OED, citing this passage).
corage: boldness, mettle, desire
47 corage: Cf. Feb 80.
47 accoied: E.K.
49 surquedrie: E.K.
51-63 Ah foolish . . . Phyllis prayse: Imitated in An Eglogue Concerning olde Age 59-62, in Francis Davison’s Poetical Rhapsody (1602): ‘Ah Thenot, be not all thy teeth on edge, / To see youngths folke to sport in pastimes gay? / To pitch the Barre, to throwe the weightie fledge / To dance with Phillis all the holli-day?’
skill: reasoning, knowledge
youngth: youth
spil: destroy, spoil
emperished: enfeebled
54 elde: E.K.
55 sicker: E.K.
55 tottie: E.K. See Chaucer, CT Reeve 4253: ‘Myn heed is toty of my swynck to-nyght’.
56 corbe: E.K. See Gower, Florent 5.273: ‘Her neck is short, her shoulders courb’.
57 lopp: ‘Small branches’ but also one of these cut off.
57 lopp and topp: A woodman’s phrase. A ‘top’ is a small branch but can mean the topmost part of a tree. Cuddie suggests that Thenot is ready for felling, having lost his vitality. February is the traditional month for wood-cutting.
58 Als: Northern form of ‘also’, meaning ‘wholly so’. Cf. Julye [8].
60 delights: Horace and Renaissance heirs like Philip Sidney stress that pleasure in poetry serves the goal of instruction or learning; here, Cuddie makes pleasure an end in itself.
caroll: sing joyously
62 hery: E.K. Medievalism. Cf. Nov 10.
62 hymnes: A hymn could be a song either in praise of the Christian God or in honor of a classical deity. Cuddie’s use of the term to designate an erotic song differs from the other fifteen uses the word hymn in the Spenser canon, where it means a high-ranking devotional genre. For the distinction between divine hymn and love song, see Nov 7-10, where the terms ‘hymn’ and ‘hery’ recur (this last term is used only these two times in the Spenser canon).
62 glove: Focusing on the beloved’s glove rather than her person was a common fetish. See Wyatt, ‘What needs these threatening words,’ titled in Tottel’s Miscellany (1557) ‘To his love from whom he had her gloves’. Edward de Vere, earl of Oxford, was well known to have introduced embroidered gloves into England, and famously he gave Queen Elizabeth a scented pair (see McLane 1961: 70).
63 Phyllis: The name, rare in Elizabethan poetry before Spenser, is largely classical and pastoral, and shows up recurrently in Virgil’s Eclogues (e.g., 3.76-9, 106-7), as well as in Horace, Propertius, and Ovid; yet Surrey had included Phyllis in the Petrarchan complaint ‘If waker care’, which Tottle titles ‘The lover confesseth him in love with Phillis’. Edward Dyer, a close friend of Philip Sidney, mentioned by Spenser in Letters~~--~~and called by Harvey ‘oure onlye Inglish poet’ (Sargent 1935: 167), wrote an important poem on a figure named Phyllis, although it may postdate SC (May 1991: 7.1-3).
65 girdle of gelt: A gold waist-band, or cestus, an emblem of chastity, worn by Venus in Homer, Il 14.214-21, but also by Persephone when raped by Pluto in Ovid, Met 5.468-70. In Spenser, the cestus is worn by Florimell at FQ III.vii.31.8; see also FQ IV.v.3-6. Skelton uses ‘gelt’ for ‘gold’, as in The tunnyng of Elynour Rummyng 607-10. Cuddie’s use of the golden girdle to ‘win’ Phyllis identifies seduction as the goal of his song.
66 buegle: Tube-shaped glass beads usually black in color, often used to add ornament to garments.
66 belt: E.K.
faine: glad, eager
69 fon: E.K.
brag: proudly
smirke: neat
pricked: pointed up
74 dewelap: A fold of loose skin around the throat.
74 lythe, as lasse of Kent: E.K. Cf. Drayton, Idea: The Shepheards Garland, Eclogue 8.147-9: ‘Her feature all as fresh above / As is the grasse that growes by Dove / As lyth as lasse of Kent.’
75 venteth: E.K.
Weenest: do you think
77-84 Semeth thy . . . lustlesse and old: Cf. Jan 43-8.
77 can: Have ‘conned’ or ‘learned’.
lustlesse: listless
80 Thy . . . lost: ‘Your ram has lost his sexual desire’.
blowen bags: full udders
82 crags: E.K. Northern, Scots dialect.
starved: perished
wote thou kenst: know you understand
86 headlesse hood: Empty hood (hence brainless, stupid).
87-90 For Youngth . . . hoste of Greevaunce: A mini-narrative that Spenser will expand often in FQ, in which a hero’s wandering in the ‘wildernesse’ will lead to an ‘ynne’ of ‘Pennaunce’ or house of instruction (e.g., FQ I.x). Cf. 2 Cor 11:26: ‘In journaying I was often . . . in perils in wilderness.’
87 For Youngth . . . breath: A common emblem. Cuddie violates Eccles 12:1: ‘Remember now thy Creator in the daies of thy youth’.
witt: power of understanding
88 Whose witt . . . is death: Cf. Rom 6:23: ‘the wages of sinne is death’.
Greevaunce: grief
90 stoopegallaunt: ‘That which humbles the gallant’. Can also be ‘a low door’.
91-97 But shall . . . old man bespake: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 6.38-40.
91-92 tale of truth . . . cond of Tityrus: As E.K. points out in his gloss, Thenot’s tale does not derive from Chaucer but from Aesop (see headnote).
cond: learned.
92 Tityrus: The shepherd’s name adopted by Virgil for his pastoral persona in Eclogues, but here adapted to mean Chaucer (see Introduction). Cf. June 81. At Oct 55, Virgil is distinguished as ‘the Roman Tityrus’.
93 Keeping his sheepe on the hils of Kent: Chaucer was an MP from Kent and contributed to the Kent peace commission.
95 novells of his devise: News invented by him. OED cites Spenser’s use of ‘novells’: ‘Something new; novelty. Obs.’ Yet two other definitions apply: ‘news, tidings’, which is closely related to the first; and ‘Any of a number of tales or stories making up a larger work; a short narrative of this type’, including ‘the Decameron of Boccaccio and the Heptameron of Marguerite of Valois’. Modern editors gloss ‘novells’ with only this third definition, but the second also applies, since Cuddie has ‘hear[d]’ the novels. Thus, Spenser’s word taps into all three definitions, suggesting a new form of vernacular literature that communicates important news to society (P. Cheney 2002: 247).
96 Well thewed: E.K.
101-98 Many meete . . . hearken the end: Introduces a Chaucerian triad of literary forms: tales of ‘love’; tales of ‘chevalrie’; and ‘novels’ that are ‘well thewed’. This triad coheres with the tripartite scheme of literary topics in Dante’s De vulgaria eloquentia: “prowess in arms, kindling of love, rectitude of will’ (Shapiro 1990: 71). In turn, the Dantean/Chaucerian model of love poetry, didactic poetry, and heroic poetry forms a medieval version of the Virgilian triad of pastoral, georgic, and epic, which Spenser specifies at Oct 55-9 (and E.K. clarifies in his gloss). Thenot’s fable of the Oak and the Briar qualifies as a didactic work corresponding to the Georgics in Virgil’s career model, as the role of the Husbandman suggests (P. Cheney 2002; see below). The balanced phrasing ‘And some of love, and some of chevalrie’ anticipates ‘Fierce warres and faithfull loves’ at FQ I.pr.1.9.
meete: suitable
101 Now listen . . . the end: ‘Listen to the outcome’, but also ‘attend to the moral lesson’. Thenot’s moralizing tale evokes not only an older generation of humanist educators, such as Sir Thomas Elyot, but also an older generation of didactic poets, such as Thomas Churchyard.
102-238 There grewe an aged Tree . . . For scorning Eld: Matt 3:10 and Luke 3:9 became the basis for the Protestant Reformers to cut down the tree of Catholicism. Cf. Maye 174-305 for another fable evoking the religious situation in England. For imitations of Spenser’s fable, see Drayton, Idea: The Shepheards Garland 2.41-60; Shirley, The Royal Master (1638) 5.2.4-17. In Thenot’s fable, the Oak may represent the earl of Leicester, the Briar the earl of Oxford, and the Husbandman Elizabeth (McLane 1961), but such simplistic identifications seem less compelling than more general allusions to generational disputes between older and younger courtiers, although the Husbandman does evoke the queen (Bond 1981; Montrose 1981).
102-114 There grewe . . . braunches sere: Traditionally, the oak is the tree of kingship, strength, and endurance, but it is also the tree of epic (SpE s.v. ‘trees’). In his Roman epic the Pharsalia, Lucan famously presents Pompey the Great as an old oak tree vulnerable to the lightning bolt of his arch-enemy, Julius Caesar (1.136-43). Subsequently, Du Bellay borrows Lucan’s oak in his sonnet sequence Les Antiquitez de Rome (1558), which Spenser translates in his 1591 Complaints as The Ruines of Rome, where Rome is a ‘great Oke drie and dead, / Yet clad with reliques of some Trophees olde’, still able to support ‘manie yong plants’ (379-89). See also Nov 125, Dec 31, and notes.
disarayde: stripped of
pight: set
mochell mast: many acorns
husband: farmer
larded: fattened
rine: rind, bark
sere: dry, withered
114 His honor . . . sere: Cf. Virgil, Geor 2.403-4: Ac iam olim, seras posuit cum vinea frondes, / Frigidus et silvis Aquilo decussit honorem (‘And already, whenever the vineyard has shed her autumn leafage, and the North Wind has shaken their glory from the woods’).
115 brere: Briar, a wild rose bush. Feb 130 evokes the Tudor Rose of Queen Elizabeth (Brooks-Davies 1995: 46), suggesting that Spenser alludes to the proposed French marriage of the late 1570s, when Elizabeth was matched with the Duc d’Alençon, only to be vigorously opposed by the Leicester-Sidney circle, to which Spenser was party.
116 Thelement: The air, regarded as the element par excellence.
118 embellisht: E.K.
aye: ever
wonned to repayre: were accustomed to come
120-123 shepheards daughters . . . Nightingale singing so lowde: The image of the shepherds’ daughters coming to the rose briar to make floral garlands for themselves in tune with the nightingale evokes the art of making poetry.
121 girlonds: The spelling puns on ‘girl’. Cf. Nov 75.
121 Nightingale: Philomela, a traditional figure for poetry and pastoral poetry, associated in SC with Colin Clout (Aug 183-86; Nov 25, 141; Dec 79). For the story of Philomela, Princess of Athens, raped and silenced by her brother-in-law, Tereus, and eventually metamorphosed into a nightingale, see Ovid, Met 6.440-674. Feb 123 is ‘the fable’s central line’ (Oram 1989: 38).
cast: resolved
126 And snebbe . . . was old: Cf. Chaucer, CT Gen Pro 523.
126 snebbe: E.K.
stocke: trunk; stupidity; a line of descent
129-132 Seest, how . . . mayden Queene: An allusion to Queen Elizabeth. Cf. Apr 68 and E.K.’s gloss.
lusty: bright, gay
131 engrained: E.K.
132 Colours meete . . . Queene: Like her father, Henry VIII, Elizabeth united the red rose of the House of Lancaster and the white rose of the House of York.
wast: superfluous
combers: troubles
133 combers the ground: Cf. Luke 13:7 in William Tyndale’s translation: ‘Cut it down: why combreth it the grounde?’
dirks: darkened
134 dirks: Cf. Chaucer, Boethius, who uses forms of the word ten times and only in this translation.
135 accloieth: E.K.
135-136 The mouldie . . . annoieth: Cf. Chaucer, PF 517-8: ‘And whoso hit doth ful foule hymself acloyeth, / For office uncommytted ofte anoyeth.’ ‘Encloy’, a variant spelling of ‘accloy’, is also used by Lydgate (OED).
rede: advise
141 adawed: E.K.
overawed: exulted over
142 overawed: Most editors adopt the reading of the 1586 edition: ‘overcrawed’.
144-146 The Husbandman . . . compasse rownd: This passage contains technical terms from the Elizabethan project of land and property surveying (see below).
servewe: survey
145 custome: A term from surveying. A ‘landscape of custom’ is ‘a landscape structured by custom—those activities performed by lord and tenantry, but especially the latter, that “have been used, time out of memorie of man”—and everyday practice’ (Sullivan 1998: 12).
145 servewe: Evokes estate surveying. During the period, writers complained about ‘the decline of hospitality [and] survey-engendered abuses of the tenantry through rack-renting or “progressive estate management”’ (Sullivan 1998: 12). By surveying his land ‘Of custome’, Thenot’s Husbandman paradoxically evokes both customary relations to the land threatened by surveying and the activity of the surveyor himself.
in compasse rownd: all around
146 trees . . . rownd: ‘Stately, well-grown trees’. The phrase ‘trees of state’ evokes the monarch and her monarchy.
146 state: Can also mean ‘estate’, the land of a wealthy landowner.
146 compasse: ‘Measure; circumference’ (OED).
149 Unto his . . . strife: Cf. Tyndale’s translation of Prov 10:12: ‘Evyll wyll stereth up stryfe’ (and Prov 15:18, 28: 25). Also, see the opening of the pseudo-Chaucerian Plowman’s Tale: ‘A sterne strife stired newe.’
150-156 O my liege Lord . . . felonous force of mine enemie: The ‘briar engages in a “crafty” exploitation of a legal form—as Thenot notes, he cloaks “colowred crime with craft”—here [dressing] a personal grudge in an apparently [legally] actionable form’ (Zurcher 2007: 75).
ponder: weigh
151 Pleaseth you . . . plaint: ‘May it please you’--primarily an Elizabethan locution.
recure: cure (from something)
doole: distress
felonous: mischievous; thievish
156 felonous: Chaucerian, obsolete by 1590s.
Him: himself (i.e., the husbandman)
158 lea: Most likely ‘scythe’ (a northernism: OED) but perhaps also ‘ground’ (untilled land).
painted: deceitful; feigned
160 With painted . . . weede: Cf. Cicero, Orator 27.96.
crime: accusation
163-165 Ah my . . . owne hand: Gesturing to the new aristocracy created by the Tudors.
166 primrose: E.K.
prime: spring
167 Feb 167: blossomes,] For a possible emendation to ‘bloosmes’ see May 187 n.
178 Coronall: E.K.
178 Coronall: Evidently an original use of the word for a garland of flowers.
cancker wormes: caterpillars
defast: defaced, spoiled
182 flowretts: E.K.
187 sufferance: ‘Choice, decision, indulgence’; also punning on the legal meaning of the condition of holding a lawfully inherited estate or kingdom after the title has become invalid.
greevance: injury, oppression
couth: knew how to
191 Had kindled . . . displeasure: Cf. Sept 86.
noulde . . . leasure: would not wait
195 hent: E.K. Archaic. Cf. Nov 169.
198 Ay: E.K.
199 nould: E.K.
200 Enaunter: E.K.
201 But to . . . stroke: Cf. Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 28: ‘How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke’.
206-210 Or to wrong . . . water dewe: Cf. Virgil, Aen 7.59-62: Laurus erat tecti medio in penetralibus altis, / Sacra comam multosque metu servata per annos, / Quam pater inventam, primas cum conderet arces, / Ipse ferebatur Phoebo sacrasse Latinus (‘In the midst of the palace, in the high inner courts, stood a laurel of sacred leafage, preserved in awe through many years, which Lord Latinus himself, ’twas said, found and dedicated to Phoebus’). The passage is the first in Februarie to evoke the Reformation battle between Protestant and Catholic: ‘a double-edged warning against the religious excesses of both radical Protestants and Catholic recusants. . . . Even though Protestantism claimed that it was the ancient “religion of the apostles and Catholicism a latter-day distortion,” Reformation satirists used generational conflict as a conventional allegorical figure that could be directed against either “old” Catholic believers or headstrong Protestant youth’ (J.N. King 1990: 34).
eld: old age
207-208 For it . . . a mysteree: An allusion to the Druids, whom the Reformers identified as an ancient religion thought to herald Christianity, thus identifying the oak ‘as a symbol of ancient British liberties’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 49). Yet Thenot’s speech is studded with ambiguity (Berger 1988: 427), and the druidic Oak has long been associated with the ‘foolerie’ (211) of Catholicism (Var 7: 264).
auncient: aged; ancestor
209 crewe: E.K. A French loan word, suggesting French Catholicism, and thus the proposed Alençon marriage.
210 dewe: Both ‘requisite’ and ‘droplets’.
sike: such
211 sike: Northern, Scots dialect.
quitten: save, deliver; decay: destruction
215-220 The blocke . . . to shake: Cf. Virgil, Aen 2.628-31: [ornus] vsque minatur / Et tremefacta comam concusso vertice nutat, / Vulneribus donec paulatim evicta supremum / Congemuit traxitque iugis avulsa ruinam (‘[the ash tree] ever threatens to fall, and nods, with trembling leafage and rocking crest, till, little by little, overcome with wounds, it gives one loud last groan and, uptorn from the ridges, comes crashing down’).
blocke: tree trunk
215 The blocke oft groned under the blow: Cf. Bellay 68.
In fine: in the end
219-237 His wonderous . . . Ambitious brere: Henry More, in The Apology of Dr. Henry More (1664: pp. 514-5) says of this passage: ‘Spencer . . . in his second Eclogue . . . has so lively set down the effects of the extirpation of Episcopacy upon the Presbyters themselves, when once that great shelter of Church-Government was removed’.
pleasaunce: delight
231 stalke: Perhaps the final e is sounded, as at Maye 279. Given the balance of evidence in the eclogue, one might expect a disyllabic ‘stalke’, but other lines are also out of measure.
brouzed: browsed on, bruised
238 For scorning Eld: Unpunctuated in the original edition, a half line functioning in the fiction of the debate as an interruption—the first instance in the Spenser canon of a broken verse line to represent interrupted meaning (cf. Jan 71 and note; for later examples, see FQ II.x.68.2, III.iii.50.1). One of the ‘notable functions’ of Thenot’s fable ‘is to be interrupted’ (Montrose 1981: 71). Thenot’s failure to persuade Cuddie recalls Colin’s failure to persuade Rosalind (Jan 63-6).
graffed: grafted
breche: breeches, or buttocks
frorne: frozen
244 galage: E.K. Variant of galosh, or a shoe with wooden sole and leather-thonged upper.
lewd: foolish, ignorant, unholy, unlettered
248-249 Iddio . . . essempio: E.K. ‘Because God is an old man, take him for example’. Ital.
251-252 Niuno . . . Iddio: E.K. ‘No old man fears God’. Ital.
2-3 Gride) perced . . . in Chaucer: According to MED, ‘girds’ and ‘grides’ are interchangeable. Cf. Chaucer, who uses ‘girt’ and ‘girden’ (CT Knight 1010, Monk 7.2546 [3736]; Tr 4.627), of which ‘gride’ is a Spenserian metathesis. E.K. refers the form correctly to Lydgate, Troy Book 2.14.
10 Mimus Publianus: Erasmus edited the Sententiae or proverbs of Publius (Publilius) Syrus as Mimi Publiani (Opuscula Aliquot, Basel, 1514). Publilius Syrus was a Latin mime writer (one who wrote dramatic scenes representing real life) of the first century BC.
11 Improbe . . . facit: ‘He who is shipwrecked twice should not blame Neptune’.
20 Breme: OED notes the word’s revival by Spenser, as an adjective for ‘winter’, from Lydgate, Troy Book 2.16.
21 Chamfred: First used in Thomas Cooper, Thesaurus linguae Romanae et Britannicae (1565) to translate striatus.
23 Surquedrie: Not archaic; E.K. may have thought Spenser took it from Lydgate, Troy Book 1.452.
29 Phyllis: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 3.76; Mantuan, Eclogues 4.176. Theocritus never mentions Phyllis.
Icon or Hypotyposis: picture or type
47 Ǽsopes: Cf. the reed and the olive tree, Fables 143.
111 Feb gl 111: furre] The spelling was sufficiently uncommon to incite 1586 to emendation, both here and four lines later. Either here or at 116, ‘furre’ may be a misreading of ‘ſure’ (sure, secure).
51 To wonne: E.K.s explanation of 'wonned' would lead to a tautology; Spenser’s 'wonned to' means 'used to'.
52 Sneb: A less common form of ‘snib’, meaning ‘snub’.
63 The Primrose: An etymological pun: prim rose = L prima rosa, the first (or spring) rose.
67 κατ’ είκασμόν: Kat’ eikasmon (‘as a comparison’).
73 Enaunter: Or, ‘in case’. Archaic. Cf. Maye 78, Sept 161.
78-79 The blocke . . . gravido etc.: This phrase does not appear in Virgil. Cf. Mother Hubberd 1029-30; Silius Italicus, Punicorum 5.398: Dant gemitum scopuli (‘the cliffs bellow’); Flaccus, Argonautica 3.164: cuneisque gemit grave robur adactis (‘and the heavy oak groans as the wedges are driven home.’)
79 Saxa gemunt gravido: ‘[T]he stones groaned at the heavy blow’.
startuppe: rustic half boot
[Em] counterbuff: rebuff; tydes: times
113 [Em] Erasmus: Not in his Adagia. Erasmus (1466-1536) was a widely influential Dutch humanist, author of The Praise of Folly (1509), and a friend of Sir Thomas More.
115 Nemo . . . Iovem: ‘No old man fears Jove’. Not in Erasmus.

March is unusual for its attempt to ‘English’ the classical (and continental) pastoral of Cupid: the eclogue takes an ancient tradition of eros and brings it home to the English countryside. In particular, the eclogue divides its fiction into two symmetrical parts: in lines 1-60, two young shepherds, Willye and Thomalin, discuss the nature of erotic desire; and in lines 61-117 Thomalin tells the story of his encounter with Cupid, god of love, who has wounded him in the Achilles’ heel, while Willye recalls the story of his father, who also encounters the deity.

The topic of the eclogue, adolescent boys awakening to sexual desire, conjoins with Januarye, the story of Colin Clout’s youthful unrequited love for Rosalind, and with Februarie, with its eclogue structure divided between a dialogue and a fable. March also anticipates Aprill, with its springtime topicality evoking the predicament of Queen Elizabeth contemplating a marriage with the French Duc d’Alençon.

Spenser’s attempt to naturalize the originary erotic classical myth on English soil shows him engaging in an ancient topic, however successful artistically (cf. Bush, Var 7: 268 versus Palgrave, Var 7: 266-7). Specifically, Spenser rewrites Bion’s Idylls 4 and Ronsard’s 1556 ode, L’Amour oiseau (Spitzer 1950), the two key precursor texts (Spenser may have known Bion through Angelo Poliziano’s 1512 Latin translation). Bion tells how, one day, the boy Ixeutas goes out hunting for birds, only to encounter Eros. Shooting all his arrows but missing the god, the boy turns to an old ploughman, who had taught him the art of hunting in the first place: the tutor counsels patience, for one day the god will return to hunt him. Ronsard adapts the story to emphasize both the beauty of the winged god and the pessimism of the tutor, an old fortuneteller, in a narrative design that features the simple disparity between innocence and experience. Spenser, in contrast, shows two boys actually experiencing desire, and talking about it, free of the interference of adult wisdom.

March thus constitutes ‘an inimitable poetic description of puberty’ (Sptizer 1950: 499), a phrase that usefully sustains both erotic and poetic valence. On the one hand, the eclogue offers ‘a comic portrayal of man’s initiation and perennial re-initiation into the sexual rites of spring’ (Cullen 1970: 100), in which ‘Adolescent psychology and budding eroticism are Spenser’s interests’ (Hoffman 1977: 82). On the other, the eclogue’s spring landscape refers ‘primarily to the topoi and symbols of previous literature and only secondarily to objects and figures in “nature”’: ‘the intent is to imitate and signify poetry’—specifically, to undercut ‘the wisdom of the literary elders, their vision of love as folly’, and to ‘show . . . what is wrong with it’ (Berger 1988: 364, 370).

The seemingly light-hearted eclogue also has political significance, exposed briefly in the curious reference to the shepherdess ‘Lettice’ in line 20, alluding to the earl of Leicester’s secret marriage to Lettice Knollys, which angered the queen (see Hadfield 2012: 128-31); and in the spelling of ‘gall’ in Thomalin’s emblem, ‘Gaule’ (France), punning on the bitterness of her proposed French marriage. Perhaps the eclogue also evokes the politics of desire in lines 49-50 in the image of an ‘Unhappye Ewe’ wearing a ‘clout’ (or bandage) on her ‘legge’ and falling ‘headlong into a dell’ (see comment below on line 50). Using such ‘markes and tokens’ (as E.K. calls them in the Argument), the eclogue creates a tension between a simple narrative surface in which boys talk about sex and the depth of an intertext that analyzes an entire tradition of love--all situated within international court politics. Yet the handling of the allusions in this eclogue is especially deft: the reader is constantly being made aware of contexts that remain outside the awareness of the speakers, teased by a sense that their topic exceeds their still childish grasp. The deliberately naive and toylike quality of the verse and fable do much to exclude the contexts that the allusions evoke.

To accomplish this maneuver, Spenser uses a version of ‘tail-rhyme’: a six-line stanza, rhyming aabccb, which divides into two units, each consisting of three lines (a tetrameter couplet followed by a single trimeter line), with both units using the same ‘b’ rhyme. Although Spenser begins by assigning each shepherd a six-line speech, he goes on to efface this stanzaic design. Willye’s second speech, for instance, consists of a single twelve-line stanza, while Thomalin’s second speech consists of just three lines, with his tale being a single forty-two line stanza. Paradoxically, March uses an idyllic-sounding representation of youthful spring desire to present a ‘somewhat sour’ attitude toward ‘love’ (McCabe 1999: 527).

Hence, the woodcut ominously shows the boys standing in the center flanked by images of Cupid. Behind them on the left is an image of Cupid caught in a fowler’s net from Willye’s story of his father, which evokes the Homeric myth of Ares (the Roman Mars) and Aphrodite (Venus) caught in the act of adultery before the gods on Mt. Olympus (March is named after Mars; hence Aries or the Ram is its zodiacal sign, centered at the top of the woodcut). On the right is the image from Thomalin’s story of his encounter with Cupid. ‘Maybe one of the points of the woodcut is that harmony is the opposite of what Protestants expected from the union of Elizabeth and Alençon’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 55).

Of all the eclogues, March best displays Spenser’s skill at lading a simple and ancient classical myth with wide and fresh import for England.

2 purpose: topic of conversation
3-4 The speciall meaning . . . the Poets God of Love: E.K.’s phrasing suggests a story about the love-inflected art of the youthful poet (not simply love itself). E.K.’s preoccupation with the ‘speciall meaning’ of Spenser’s poetry continues in his subsequent glosses, which recurrently translate the poet’s metaphors for the reader, providing an early cue for modern interpretations (sometimes of E.K. himself). Whereas Cupid is certainly ‘a supernatural ancient source’ (Spitzer 1950: 500), the god is also ‘an even more ancient psychological force subsequently externalized and apotheosized by classical tradition’ (Berger 1988: 362).
5-6 secrete freend: Not identified. Cf. Julye, where Thomalin reappears, more mature, and identifiable with Thomas Cooper, Bishop of London.
6 knights: attendants, devotees
6 knights: Hints at the courtly, political matrix of the eclogue.
regard: sight
2 overwent: E.K.
nigheth: approaches
5 alegge: E.K.
Sicker: surely
8 to quell: E.K.
11 The Swallow: E.K.
12 Welkin: E.K.
13-24 Seest not . . . our daunce: The unusual congestion of ‘figurative phrases’ here dilates on the gap between Willye’s casual, innocent references (to the hawthorn bush putting forth its head, the classical goddess Flora making Maia’s bower ready, the shepherdess Lettice ‘wex[ing] . . . light’, the god Cupid awakening, and the lake/river Lethe sleeping), on the one hand, and, on the other, the verse’s sophisticated learning, which gives Spenser’s ‘fable a distinctly literary flavor and sets it in a network of myths and motifs that have already been invested with allegorical values by established interpretive traditions’ (Berger 1988: 365-6). Willye’s cheerful representation of a vital springtime world arousing love from dormancy is ominously laden with danger: with arrogance, sexual aggression, illicit misconduct, mastery, and oblivion.
13-15 Seest not . . . head?: The youthful hawthorn here recalls the bragging Briar at Feb 115-26.
thilke: this, or that
studde: tree trunk, stem
13 Hawthorne: Cf. Maye 13.
bragly: showily
utter: shoot, put forth
16-17 Flora . . . Maias: See E.K.’s detailed glosses and the notes on both figures.
18 upryst: A Spenserian archaism, the past participle of ‘uprisen’.
wexe light: become frivolous or wanton
20 Lettice: E.K. Probably from L laetitia, joy, appropriate to the season (cf. Apr 144, ‘flower Delice’, glossed as flos delitiarum). The name may allude to Lettice Knollys, the widowed countess of Essex, whose secret marriage to Leicester early in 1579 angered the queen.
21 askaunce: E.K. The detail is so striking in context as to raise an eyebrow at E.K.’s gloss on Lettice: ‘the name of some country lasse’.
22 Love: Cupid.
23 That nowe . . . Lethe lake: Lethe was not a lake but a river in the classical underworld, and souls drank of it to lose their memory of a painful life on earth, which Virgil famously describes at Aen 6.703-51. Cf. Aen 6.134 for lacus (‘lake’) applied to the River Styx, which E.K might be remembering. Yet ‘Spenser’s “errors” are . . . poetically motivated’, for ‘Lethe becomes a stagnant lake, not a flowing river’; moreover, ‘in medieval English, lake meant . . . a “slowly flowing river”’ (Spitzer 1950: 501n2).
wene: think
25 assott: E.K.
lustie: lively
28 How kenst thou: ‘How do you know’.
29 his slomber: E.K.
happely: by chance
33 With winges . . . blew: E.K.
34-35 my sheepe . . . bewray: Cf. Januarye, where Colin Clout’s love of Rosalind threatens to impede his duty to his flock.
bewray: reveal; previe: peculiar, particular, his alone
37-57 Thomalin . . . on the greene: In the context of SC (e.g., ‘To His Booke’ 10, Jan 43-9), Willye and Thomalin’s sustained dialogue on watching their sheep suggests the enduring topic of pastoral responsibility—ecclesiastical, political, poetic—as details following indicate.
37-42 Thomalin, have . . . mine: A topos common to pastoral (see E.K.’s gloss): Theocritus, Idyll 1.12-4; Virgil, Ecl 5.12; Boccaccio, Eclogues 5.620; Marot, Complainct de Madame Loyse 2.261. Cf. Maye 172-3.
37 for thy: E.K.
38 a double eye: In an eclogue about adolescents who ‘spy’ Cupid, a resonant phrase. Willye uses it to advance his friendly skill at seeing two things at once, his own flock and Thomalin’s--a skill he has honed because his father and stepmother routinely count his sheep. But at Maye 254 ‘double-eyed’ means ‘two-faced’ or ‘deceitful’.
Ylike: alike
39 Ylike: Archaic.
40 For als: E.K.
41 whott: ‘Hot and choleric’, but also ‘sexually aroused and threatening’. Willye is unique in SC in having a full set of parents—for having parents at all. Indeed, March is the one eclogue featuring shepherds who have a family, although Spenser keeps it in the background of the fiction. Cf. Maye for Piers’ fable of the Dame and her Kid. The concept of ‘home’ in SC, which concludes most eclogues, including March (117), tends to be more about friendship than family.
seeing: overseeing
swerve: deviate (from their path)
46 sithens . . . morowe: ‘It was only three days ago’.
thilke: that
unhappye: unfortunate, troublesome
clouted: bandaged, wrapped in cloths
50 clouted: Cf. Maye 243, where the Foxe who traps the Kid has ‘His hinder heele . . . wrapt in a clout’. The word also evokes Colin Clout, Spenser’s persona, suggesting that the ‘unhappye Ewe’ who wears the clout on her leg and falls in a dell might be Queen Elizabeth, who would be harmed through the French marriage. Thus, the idea of the clout as a bandage evokes the traditional idea of the poet as a physician or healer (P. Cheney 1993: 135-56, 277n25). The Ewe with her bandaged leg ‘mirror[s]’ Thomalin’s wounded heel (Berger 1988: 363).
51 a dell: E.K.
unjoynted: dislocated, disjointed
53-54 Mought her . . . spell: ‘If she had also broken her neck, she would not need healing charms’.
joynted: disjointed, broken
54 spell: E.K.
Thelf: the elf (ewe), mischievous creature; wood: crazy
trowe: trust, believe
can: knows
56 But now . . . good: ‘But now I hope she knows better’.
57 mought . . . greene: ‘Would not stay on the common pasture’.
57 gang: E.K.
58-60 Let be . . . seene: ‘These three lines, delicately poised between past and future, serve as the structural centre of the eclogue, dividing 57 lines of dialogue from 57 lines of mythological anecdote’ (McCabe 1999: 527). One wonders whether Shakespeare remembers these lines in Hamlet: ‘There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be [now], ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it [will] come—the readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is’t to leave betimes, let be’ (5.2.219-24).
forecast: anticipated
102-61 Thomalin’s detailed story of discovering Cupid in a bush while out hunting one holiday—based on Bion’s Idylls 4, perhaps mediated through Ronsard’s translation, L’Amour oiseau, or Poliziano’s Latin translation (see headnote)—is the set piece of March, the correlate to Colin’s song to Pan in Januarye and Thenot’s fable of the Oak and the Briar in Februarie, as well as an anticipation of Colin’s lay of Elisa in Aprill.
groomes: helpers
han: have
62 When shepheardes groomes han leave to playe: Inaugurates SC’s dialogue on the merits of pastoral play. Cf. Sept 232, where Diggon contradicts Thomalin’s youthful holiday principle with one appropriate to the mature gloom of autumn: ‘with shepheard sittes not playe.’ Maye especially features the topos; see Maye 179n. At March 95, Cupid continues to ‘playe’ even after Thomalin runs away.
64 wandring: Usually in Spenser a sign of moral straying, yet here presented as the sporting act of youth.
bolts: arrows
tooting: searching; spying
66 tooting: Cf. Skelton, Philip Sparrow 421-2; Piers Plowmans Creed 219. In SC, the singing of birds almost always functions as a symbol of the poet’s art, thereby inviting a vocational reading of Thomalin’s story. In his translation of Tasso’s GL 14.66, Fairfax imitates line 66.
67 Yvie todde: E.K. Spenser replaces Bion’s box-tree with an ivy-bush. Typically in Spenser, ivy is a symbol of lust (e.g., Aug 30).
thicke: thicket
some quicke: something alive
76 snake: Cf. Jan 65 and note on Rosalind’s response to Colin’s art: ‘Shepheards devise she hateth as the snake’.
earnd: yearned
79-83 With that sprong . . . slacke: E.K. Cf. Henry More, Cupid’s Conflict, which imitates the lines: ‘At’s snowy back the boy a quiver wore / Right fairly wrought and gilded all with gold: / A silver bow in his left hand he bore’ (49-51).
80 Peacocks: Here a symbol of alertness and colorful splendor (cf. Ovid, Met 1.720-23), but evocative also of pride (cf. Feb 8, Oct 31). Cf. Moschus, Idylls 1.15, by way of Ronsard, l’Amour oiseau.
lope: lept
82 gylden quiver: Cf. Moschus, Idylls 1.20.
levelde: aimed
pumie: pumice
hastly hent: quickly picked up
89 pumie: Pumice is not native to England, but rather to the literary tradition. See Ovid’s description of the grotto named Gargaphie (Met 3.156-60; Friedman 1966; Cullen 1970: 104), transplanted to Belphoebe’s glade at FQ III.v.39.8. Yet the pumice stone is also an implement of the poet (Propertius, Elegies 3.1.8; Greek Anthology 6.62-8, 295). The stone reappears at 93.
availed: succeeded, brought him down
wimble: nimble
91 He was . . . wight: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, CT Monk 2267: ‘With any yong man, were he never so wight’.
93 latched: E.K.
94 affrayd I ranne away: Thomalin earlier described himself as ‘manfully’ shooting at Cupid (78).
earst: at first
95 earst: Archaism.
95 playe: See 62n.
97 And hit me running in the heele: E.K. See note on E.K.’s gloss. The detail shows Thomalin to be ‘our tiny Achilles’ (Berger 1988: 363).
102-98 For then I little smart . . . cease it: The process recurs throughout Spenser, and especially recalls Colin in Januarye. Yet, whereas lovers like Colin become lovesick at seeing the physical beauty of a person, Thomalin becomes lovesick at the sight of originary desire itself, participating in a ‘homoerotic narcissism, since what the hunter pursues is not a woman but (presumably his own) desire as a god’ (Berger 1988: 361).
For then: as a result
smart: sharp pain (as from a sting)
wote: know
102 wote: Archaism.
Perdie: sure
token: sign, example
105 token: E.K. introduces the word in the Argument.
106-114 For once . . . daunted: E.K. Willye’s story of his father’s entrapment of Cupid in a net alludes to Vulcan’s entrapment of the adulterous Venus and Mars (headnote). See Homer, Od 8.266-369.
106 For once I heard my father say: Willye’s father (the eclogue’s replacement for Bion’s old ploughman) is the ‘graybeard’ who represents the literary tradition (Berger 1988: 369).
108 wroken: E.K.
110 carrion Crowes: The idea that ‘love’ (104) becomes entangled in a net originally set for crows who eat carrion functions as a symbol of the tradition of love as a grim form of malady, recorded graphically in the emblems of both Willye and Thomalin (see below).
haunted: frequented
111 Peeretree: This striking scene with Cupid caught in a pear tree—‘the lecherous perch’ (Allen 1960: 18)—replays Chaucer, CT Merchant 2207-11, the story of beautiful young May’s adultery with her lover Damyan while she stands on the shoulders of her old husband January (Nelson 1963: 42-3).
Tho: then
thicks: darkens
steepes: bathes, sinks
116 stouping Phebus steepes his face: E.K.
118-123 In Letters 3.188-93, Harvey quotes both emblems.
119-120 To be wise . . above: From Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 22: Amare et sapere vix Deo conceditur. Willye’s Emblem fits in with the eclogue’s evocations of two significant marriages, both involving Queen Elizabeth: Leicester’s marriage to Lettice Knollys (see 20n), and Elizabeth’s proposed marriage to Alençon (see 50n and the note on E.K.’s gloss to Thomalin’s Emblem)—by warning powerful adults to be wise about desire.
122-123 Of Hony . . . is more: Refers to the Platonic-Orphic tradition of the bitterness underlying love’s sweetness (cf. Theocritus, Idylls 1.19; Plautus, Cistellaria 1.69-70), which becomes a Renaissance commonplace.
122 Gaule: The spelling suggests an allusion to Elizabeth’s proposed French marriage (Gaul = France).
1 Theocritus: Not Theocritus, but Bion (Idylls 4).
4 March gl 4: Ouerwent] We follow1597 in closing up the two words in our copy, bringing E.K.’s lemma into accord with the text of the eclogue.
6 To quell: A Spenserian form of the intransitive verb, quail: cf. Nov 91.
8 The swallow: Cf. Ovid, Fasti 2.853: veris pranuntia venit hirundo (‘has the swallow come, the harbinger of spring’).
14 Andronica: Unidentified. ‘[P]resumably [this] alludes to her power over men as lover or prostitute: Greek andros ([ἀνδρός,] ‘man’) + nikē ([νίκη,] victory)’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 61).
10 Tacitus: Not Tacitus but Boccaccio, Gen Deor 4.61. Nonetheless, E.K.’s reference to Tacitus, republican author of Rome and outspoken critic of the corrupt Roman empire, coheres with the reference to Sir Thomas Smith in Januarye, thereby evoking the group of aristocrats in the Sidney-Leicester circle who criticized the queen for pursuing the French marriage.
10 Flora: Cf. Maye 31. The language of E.K.’s gloss here and at Apr 86-7, 122, and especially Apr 110 and Maye 142, derives from Cooper, Thesaurus.
19 Macrobius: See Saturnalia 1.12.19; at paragraph 20, he reports that ‘Maia . . is the Earth’; but E.K. probably relies on Boccaccio, Gen Deor 4.35.
18 Mercurie: Messenger god, god of eloquence, and god of shepherds, who could be depicted bearing a ram (zodiacal sign of March).
21 Ascaunce: Can imply disdain.
32 Poetes: Cf. Ovid, Remedia Amoris 701 for purpureas pueri . . . alas (‘the Boy’s purple wings’; trans. adapted). Also, cf. Henry More, Cupid’s Conflict for an imitation of these lines and of 67-9: ‘Lo! on the other side in thickest bushes / A mighty noise! with that a naked swain / With blew and purple wings streight rudely rushes’ (44-6); Milton, PL 4.764-5: ‘Here Love his golden shafts imploys, here lights / His constant Lamp, and waves his purple wings’.
34 Est . . . noverca: ‘[F]or at home there’s my father and my harsh stepmother’ (Virgil, Ecl 3.33).
40 Chaucer: In CT Thopas 893, but misquoted.
51 Propertius: See Elegies 2.12.
51-53 Moschus . . . otianus: See Moschus, Idylls 1.15, and Poliziano’s Latin translation in his 1512 Epigrammata.
54 thys Poets: Spenser’s translation does not survive, but cf. FQ III.vi.11-26 for the story of Venus searching for the runaway Cupid.
deliver: agile
58 Homer: Not in Homer but Fulgentius, Mythologiae 3.7 via Boccaccio, Gen Deor 12.52.
66 Eustathius: A twelfth-century allegorizer of Homer from Constantinople whose commentary was printed in the Rome (1542-50) and Basel editions (1560) of Homer; but E.K.’s source remains Boccaccio, Gen Deor 12.52.
71 Hipocrates: Gr physician of the fifth century BC. Cf. Hippocrates, Of Airs, Waters, Places 22.
Periphrasis: circumlocution

Aprill is the second of six Colin Clout eclogues (with Jan, June, Aug, Nov, Dec), and features a narrative about the role of the shepherd-poet in his rural community. Whereas Januarye has presented Colin’s private, amorous courtship of Rosalind, Aprill presents his professional, political courtship of Queen Elisa, identified in the Argument as a representation of Queen Elizabeth (Montrose 1979: 39). The relationship between poet and monarch comes front and center, emphasizing their reciprocity in the making of each other: poetry shapes monarchy; and monarchy shapes poetry (Montrose 1986).

Spenser represents this relationship through a complex three-part structure. In lines 1-36, two shepherds who have appeared previously, Thenot and Hobbinol, engage in a dialogue about Colin: whereas Hobbinol weeps that his friend has turned away from him to Rosalind and now has abandoned his art, Thenot cheerfully asks to hear one of Colin’s songs. In lines 37-153, Hobbinol then ‘recorde[s]’ (Arg and line 30) Colin’s ‘laye / Of fayre Elisa, Queene of shepheardes all’ (33-4). Finally, in lines 154-61 Thenot and Hobbinol agree that Colin has been foolish to sacrifice his art to unrequited love.

To offset the inset-lay from the dialogue, Spenser modulates prosody intricately. The dialogue proceeds through a four-line stanza (or quatrain) of often rough-sounding alliterative verse (the opening line reads, ‘what garres thee greete?’) in a generally iambic pentameter line, rhyming abab. In contrast, Colin’s lay proceeds through an elaborately devised thirteen-stanza unit with each stanza having nine lines, rhyming ababccddc, alternating long and short lines: the first, third, fifth, and sixth are generally in iambic pentameter; the second, fourth, seventh, and eighth, generally in iambic dimeter; and the ninth, generally in iambic tetrameter. It is a remarkable premonition of the nine-line stanza of The Faerie Queene (known as ‘the Spenserian stanza’), and is original to English literature. The effect of the eclogue’s full metrical design is to draw attention to the superiority of the poet—both Colin and Spenser--in the presence of his peers (and sovereign).

Clearly, then, the showpiece of the eclogue is Colin’s lay of Elisa. The lay had a substantial contemporary reception, discussed, e.g., by Abraham Fraunce in his 1588 The Lawiers Logike (sig. Jiii^r^-Jiiij^v^) and anthologized in the 1600 England’s Helicon (sig. Cb). In the 1586 Discourse of English Poetrie, William Webbe discusses the lay and curiously turns it into Sapphics (sig. Jii^r^-Jiiij^r^), while in his Lay to Beta, on Elizabeth (Eclogue 3), Samuel Daniel offers a clear imitation. Milton, too, was attracted to Aprill, as revealed by both Lycidas and Arcades (Var 7: 280). Indeed, Colin’s lay qualifies as ‘one of the chief beauties of the Shepheards Calender, and of Elizabethan verse at large’ (Herford, Var 7: 275). Further, the ‘blazon of Elisa in the “April” eclogue has become one of the most famous of all the poetic images of the Virgin Queen. But retrospect has made it hard to remember that the cult of Elizabeth as maiden goddess was still a relatively new phenomenon’ (Norbrook 2002: 74). In particular, Colin’s lay joins his August sestina on Rosalind and his elegy on Dido in November in ‘stand[ing] out as staking an English claim in the poetry of the European Renaissance’ (Alpers 1996: 182).

Colin’s lay is the first version of what will recur famously throughout the Spenser canon: a detailed masculine representation of the female body (cf. Micros 1993), indebted to European traditions of the blazon, which here traces to the Song of Solomon and to Petrarch’s Rime Sparse (e.g., 90, 157, 200). Yet Spenser’s specific precedents for celebrating a monarch come from classical pastoral, Scripture, and continental pastoral: the praise of a ruler in Theocritus, Idylls 17, the ‘Encomium to Ptolemy’; the celebration of the princely Roman babe as the herald of the return of the Golden Age in Virgil, Eclogues 4 (the so-called ‘Messianic eclogue’, because Christians interpreted the babe as Jesus); the lovely description of the beloved’s female body in the Song of Solomon; and the lament for the death of a beloved sovereign in Marot’s Complainct de Madame Loyse. In the background as well may be Richard Mulcaster’s The passage of our most drad Soueraigne Lady Quene Elyzabeth, through the citie of London (1558 = 1559), which ‘describes Elizabeth’s passage past a succession of elaborate symbolic pageants’ that emphasize ‘the mutuality of the love displayed by Elizabeth and her people’: ‘Mulcaster’s pamphlet has much in common with Virgil’s fourth eclogue, joyously heralding a reign which promises to bring peace and prosperity to the nation’ (Pugh 2016: 117, 122; see 116-24). As the scriptural precursor text hints, Colin’s lay, while formally a praise poem, is indebted to the tradition of the wedding hymn or ode, known as the epithalamium. Yet the eclogue’s double structure of dialogue-and-song suggests a compound depiction of the poet in relation with the monarch. On the one hand, Aprill tells a triumphal story about Colin’s use of his art to praise his sovereign, depicting an idealized poet-monarch relation, which presumably becomes useful to Spenser in advertising his address to the queen and important to the leadership he offers to other poets. On the other hand, Aprill tells a disastrous story about the poet’s unrequited love for Rosalind as impeding this very model, thereby tempering the idealization through lament.

Is Aprill, then, a praise poem (Cain 1978: 14-24), or a poem of ‘resistance’ relying on ‘the “doubleness”’ of ‘camouflage’ (Norbrook 2002: 78-80)? For that matter, is the subject of the eclogue Elizabeth as ‘queen of England and head of the English church’, with ‘the panegyric ode . . . the closest The Shepheardes Calender comes to expressing a complete and idyllic unity of nation and church’ (Halpern 1991: 205); or does Aprill present the political leader as ‘a personification of pastoral poetry’, with Spenser emphasizing ‘Elizabeth’s status as an ideal image created by the poet’ (Montrose 1979: 40-1)?

Although the eclogue is rich enough to sustain affirmative answers to all of these questions, the woodcut emphasizes the latter interpretation. It presents the queen standing in the center, surrounded by ten dancing ladies holding musical instruments, suggesting the classical Muses, while Colin stands off to the left, facing the dance and playing his pipe, his smaller scale suggesting that he conjures up the vision with his art. Above Colin, in the background, are Thenot and Hobbinol, with their sheep in front of them and the house to which they return at the end behind them (160). Yet even further in the background, toward the middle and on a hill, stands an imperial city, reminding viewers that ‘“Aprill” serves to predict the heroic poem that was already being composed’ (Oram 1989: 69). At the top, and centered, is the zodiacal sign of Taurus, the Bull, a reference to the myth of Jupiter disguising himself as a bull to carry off the beautiful girl Europa, which Ovid uses to tell how ‘“majesty and love” do not go well together’, a warning to Elizabeth about the dangers of marrying the French Duc d’Alençon (McCabe 1999: 530, quoting Met 2.846-7; see Brooks-Davies 1995: 64).

For its complex artistic design, its bifurcated representation of a relationship at the heart of sixteenth-century literature, and its importance within a long reception history, Aprill commands attention as a set piece of SC and of English poetry.

2 Queene Elizabeth: The first historical personage mentioned in a SC Argument. The only others mentioned are poets: Theocritus and Virgil in August; Marot in November.
3 Hobbinoll: Appearing also in June and September, and identified by E.K. at Sept [176] as Spenser’s friend Gabriel Harvey. Hobbinol is thus a primary spokesman in SC: whether for ‘the Vacant Head model’, in which young poets aspire to withdraw into paradise by turning erotic desire into art (Berger 1988: 357-8); or for ‘the center . . . of values’, such as ‘community, . . . pleasures and compassion’ (Lindheim 2005: 32, 34).
3 Thenott: An older shepherd appearing also in Februarie and November. Thenot is one of SC’s primary figures of the ‘pastoral elder’: a literary ‘mind divided by its adherence to the paradise principle between the blandishment of the poets who glorify youth and love, and the resultant bitterness of discovering that “all that is lent to love, wyll be lost”’ (Berger 1988: 398).
6 his mynd was alienate: ‘[A]rguably the single most significant aspect of [the] . . . eclogue’s presentation is the conspicuous absence of Colin Clout’: ‘the context of the celebration [of Elisa] is alienation…. [T]he word “alienate” rings heavily for it is simultaneously traditional and topical—traditional in the sense that it evokes the powerful ethos of political and social alienation, evoked by Virgil’s first eclogue, and topical in that it also evokes the prevalent mood of contemporary England’, characterized by fear that Queen Elizabeth would marry Alençon (McCabe 1995: 21). Indeed, ‘alienation is the defining characteristic of Colin Clout’ and ‘the central strategy of Spenser’s poetry, which forces his readers to reencounter their native tongue through a process of occlusion and defamiliarization’: ‘A disinclination to sing, in fact, is the inauspicious starting point of nearly all of the Calender’s eclogues’ (Nicholson 2014: 103, 104, 113). On the word ‘mind’, see 25n.
8 conning: learning; a form of study
8 conning ryming and singing: The phrase is ambiguous: ‘conning’ could take ‘ryming’ as the direct object of the participle, accounting for the absence of a comma between them; or the three words could each be distinct gerunds, with absent commas normal in early modern books. In the first possibility, the phrase introduces two phases to an artistic process: making learned poetry and performing it. In the second, the phrase introduces three phases: learning; turning the learning into poetry; and performing it.
8-9 his laudable exercises: Identifies Colin’s songs as expressions of encomiastic poetry and praises those songs as themselves laudable.
10 recorde: narrate and register; recall and repeat
10 recorde: Cf. 30. The word draws attention to the reproducibility of the poet’s song and its public performance, as Hobbinol sings the lay of Elisa for Colin during his absence. In turn, Spenser himself records competing versions of previous poets’ work, especially Virgil’s Eclogue 4 and Marot’s Eglogue de Madame Loyse—the first, a work of celebration, with its myth of a male political savior (probably Augustus Caesar); and the second, an elegiac work that darkens the joy, with its funeral elegy on a beloved queen.
11 abruptely: by way of abbreviation
1 garres thee greete: E.K. A deliberately archaic opening to the dialogue, which will give way to the floral beauty of Colin’s lay of Elisa.
3 Bagpype: Cf. Aug 3, 6; a bagpipe also appears in the Januarye woodcut. Since traditionally it has associations with erotic desire (Winternitz 1967: chapter 4), this musical instrument denotes an erotic art.
4 forlorne: E.K.
5 attempred to the yeare: E.K. One of the recurrent tropes of SC, the link between the human and the natural, here accommodated to the month of April: Thenot notes the correspondence between Hobbinol’s tears and the traditional association of April with rain (e.g., Chaucer, CT Gen Pro 1-4).
thristye: thirsty
28-9 Nor thys . . . for a frenne: Hobbinol’s complaint that Colin has turned from loving him to loving Rosalind recalls Jan 55-60, and thus measures distance from the homoerotic love featured in Spenser’s intertext there, Virgil, Ecl 2.
10 the ladde: E.K.
11 a lasse: E.K.
12-15 He plongd . . . doth forbeare: Drayton imitates these lines in Pastorals, Eclogue 2.97-8: ‘Now hath this Yonker torn his tressed Locks, / And broke his Pipe which was of sound so sweet’.
12 tressed locks: E.K.
14-15 Hys pleasaunt . . . and doth forbeare: Rehearses Jan 71-2, where Colin breaks his pipe. Hobbinol’s emphasis on the ‘pleasaunt’ quality of Colin’s artistic ‘meriment’ speaks to one of the Horatian goals of poetry, delight (the other being instruction; cf. Feb 60); that emphasis is also consistent with the ‘recreative’ function assigned to Aprill by E.K. in his Epistle.
outwent: surpassed
17 is . . . Ladde: E.K. Cf. Shakespeare, Much Ado 1.3.47: ‘What is he for a fool’.
pinching: painful, distressing
prove: experience
19-20 And hath he skill . . . brydle love: An important link in SC relating poetry and love, here expressed as a paradox: Colin can excel at making poems but he cannot order his desire. The paradox gestures to an assumption characteristic of Spenser’s ‘Petrarchan’ canon: ‘excellent’ poetry can be ‘ma[d]e’ out of un-‘brydle[d] love’.
19 to make: E.K.
20 brydle: Traditional emblem of reason’s control over desire (see Wind 1968: 145, 147, and plate 41), prominent in Plato’s Phaedrus, which forms a key precursor text for Aprill (Helfer 2012: 102-14). The word ‘brydle’ may be a ‘sly pun’ on bridal (McCabe 1999: 529).
21 kenst: E.K.
21 Southerne shepheardes boye: E.K. In 1578, Spenser was secretary to John Young, Bishop of Rochester, in Kent.
Whilome: once, formerly
Forcing: attempting, pressing, urging; wanton: rebellious
25 madding . . . starte: ‘His mad, frenzied, or foolish mind has turned away’. The striking alliteration draws attention to the importance of the poet-figure’s inwardness, or consciousness, in this eclogue, and indeed in other eclogues featuring Colin.
woes: woos
glenne: glen, wild valley
26 woes: The spelling suggests a pun: wooing is a woe.
26 Widdowes daughter of the glenne: E.K.
bredde: occasioned
28 frenne: E.K. Since E.K. points out that ‘frenne’ means ‘straunger’, and is ‘used in commen custome of speach for forenne’, the language here evokes the Alençon courtship. The ‘frend’ is Hobbinol, and the ‘frenne’ Rosalind, highlighting Colin’s life-change.
trimly dight: neatly ornamented, intricately composed
30 recorde: See note in the Argument. Spenser’s strategy differs from Harvey’s and that of other courtiers, such as Leicester, who courted the queen either directly with their work or through commissioned performances like the famed pageants at Kennilworth Castle (1567): ‘Colin’s “laye” . . . is an imaginary apostrophe for an encounter that never happens’ (McCoy 1997: 58; cf. Knapp 1992: 90-4).
32 in thys shade alone: Underscores a notable feature of most eclogues: in the narrative, shepherds withdraw in intimacy into the landscape to talk and sing privately; in the ‘book’ printing the poem, ‘the author’ publishes the scene of secrecy.
33-35 laye . . . laye: Spenser relies on a pun: Colin sings his lay as he lays down by a spring.
35 laye: E.K.
35-36 by a spring . . . Waters fall: Colin’s preferred locale, a symbol of the harmony of poetic inspiration. Spenser takes over the trope from predecessors (e.g., Theocritus, Idylls 1.7-8; Marot, Complainct de Madame Loyse 2.261), yet he makes it his own by inflecting it in specific ways (June 8, Aug 155, Dec 1, and woodcuts to Aprill, June, Dec, as well as Petrarch 4). Subsequent poets imitate the trope widely: Drayton, Pastorals, Eclogue 3.63-4: ‘And let them set together all, / Time keeping with the Waters fall’; and The Return from Pernassus (1606), sig. B^v^, where the anonymous authors identify the waterfall as Spenser’s ‘signature’ (Hollander 1988: 176): ‘to the waters fall he tun’d for fame, / And in each barke engrav’d Elizaes name.’ The poet’s special relationship with the land, here and throughout the lay, evokes the myth of Orpheus as a civilizing poet, able to move the woods, stop the flow of rivers, and tame wild beasts, for Colin ‘charms the external world into configuration around Eliza’ (Cain 1978: 10-4). See also Letters 4.6-7n. In the first recorded commentary on Spenser’s waterfall trope, William Webbe sees an equation with Colin’s verse-form, which includes ‘manie unequall verses, but most sweetelie falling together, which the Poet calleth the tune of the waters fall’ (Var 7: 274).
153-37 Ye dayntye. . . you among: Colin’s thirteen-stanza lay has an elaborate structure, dividing into two six-stanza sequences, with the seventh stanza serving as a bridge (Cain 1978: 20-2). Two patterns emerge: in the first, the two sequences mirror each other in content (e.g., stanza 1 mirrors stanza 8); in the second, the sequences are symmetrical (e.g., stanza 1 matches stanza 13). Whereas the first sequence presents a static icon, featuring a stationary Eliza, the second is dynamic, evoking a masquelike progression. If in the first sequence Colin functions as the poetic maker of an artistic image, in the second he functions as a vates or visionary; these are the two principal roles of the poet coming out of antiquity and familiar from Renaissance treatises on poetry. The specific content of the elaborate structure derives from and adapts the rhetorical tradition of encomiastic poetry, designed to immortalize an important person, especially rulers (Cain 1978: 6-7, 14-15); the structure includes the following parts: proemium pro qualitate rei (a preface featuring the subject’s excellence, here including an invocation); genus (background, here parents and race); gestae (deeds, focusing on beauty), comparatio (comparison to others), and votum (prayer, or here, an address to the subject).
37 Ye dayntye: E.K.
39-40 hether looke, / at my request: Establishes the basic conceit of the lay, in which Colin as poet calls on figures from the landscape—most of them from classical mythology—to come to the grassy green to attend on Queen Elisa, himself serving as master of the revels (cf. Alpers 1985: 92). The figures invoked are all feminine (with one exception): nymphs of the brook, the Nine Muses, Phoebus and Cynthia, Calliope as the Muse of epic, the Three Graces, the Ladies of the Lake, especially Chloris, and shepherds’ daughters.
41 Virgins: E.K. ‘The Aprill eclogue celebrates Elizabeth’s virginity at the very moment she seemed most determined to abandon it’ (by marrying Alençon): ‘Colin’s song employs the imagery of an epithalamium while precluding all possibility of actual marriage’ (McCabe 1995: 23, 27).
42 Whence floweth . . . well: E.K. ‘Helicon’ was the name of the mountain only; its wells were named Hippocrene and Aganippe. This is the first of Spenser’s references to the ‘blessed Brooke’, which he imagines flowing on Mount ‘Parnasse’ (41), traditional home of the Muses, and thus the originary site of poetic creation, as well as of its goal, fame. The mythological reference forms part of Spenser’s main artifice, which features the poet making his sovereign famous (D.L. Miller 1979: 230-1). Cf. Chaucer, House of Fame 521; Lydgate, Troy Book Prologue 42; Skelton, Garland of Laurel 74.
blaze: proclaim; describe heraldically
43 blaze: Announces the poet’s formal purpose.
46 your silver song: E.K. mis-attributes the phrase to Hesiod (Var 7: 288). The phrase ‘silver song’ might seem paradoxical, attaching a color or material substance to a sound. Yet the word ‘silver’ could mean ‘Of sounds: Having a clear gentle resonance like that of silver; soft-toned, melodious’ (OED). The word ‘silver’ also has connotations of whiteness, brightness, clearness, and riches (OED), making it a metaphor for purity, illumination, lucidity, and value. One other association may bear on Spenser’s interest: the word’s use in ornamentation (OED), evoking his pioneering role in developing a sixteenth-century eloquent style. Since Spenser so often uses ‘silver’ as an adjective for ‘song’, ‘sound’, and ‘swan’ within an alliterative phrase, and since E.K. records its origin in a classical author, it qualifies as a metonym for an eloquent intertextual authorship, and thus for Spenserian poetry itself. Hence its appearance opening both Time (‘silver streaming Thamesis’ [2]) and Proth (‘silver streaming Themmes’ [11]): the fountain of Spenser’s eloquent, intertextual art of mutability. Spenser’s language in Aprill equates the silver song with Elisa, at once tracing the origin of Colin’s art to the queen and identifying Elisa as the form that his art takes. On the allied phrase ‘silver sound’ in the Spenser canon, see notes at June 61, Aug 181, as well as Oct [90] for E.K.’s quotation of two lost lines of Spenserian verse, which mention the ‘silver swanne’.
wight: person
48-49 The flowre of Virgins . . . In princely plight: Ambiguous: ‘Does the poet wish her to flourish long as a virgin or for the virgin to flourish in princely plight (which could include marriage)’ (Norbrook 2002: 78).
plight: condition, state
49 plight: The word could have both positive and negative connotations.
50-51 For shee . . . begot: E.K. On Pan and Syrinx, see Ovid, Met 1.689-712. In assigning the name Pan to Henry VIII, Spenser transposes Marot, Complainct de Madame Loyse, who applies the name to François I. But Spenser’s extrapolation of the Ovidian myth to represent Elizabeth’s parents is bold, since Ovid tells how the god attempts to rape the river nymph. Given that this attempted rape leads to the invention of the syrinx, or panpipe (the musical instrument of pastoral), Spenser uses the myth to record the origin of his own art—and perhaps even of the Henrician era (the age of Skelton and Barclay, Wyatt and Surrey, poets important in differing ways to SC). Colin refers to the myth again at 91-4. The myth forms the ‘crux of the Aprill eclogue’s strategy’, for ‘the poet metamorphoses an Ovidian aetiology into a Tudor genealogy’; specifically, Spenser may replay Sannazaro, who ‘has recreated the myth of the origins and history of pastoral poetry in the Tenth Prose of his Arcadia’, when the shepherds see the Pipe of Pan hung on a cave, and a priest narrates Ovid’s story of Pan and Syrinx with allusions to both Theocritus and Virgil, including the Messianic Eclogue (one of Aprill’s acknowledged intertexts): ‘the pipes of Pan have passed into the hands of Sincero, Sannazaro’s Petrarchan persona’ (Montrose 1979: 40).
50 without spotte: Stainless, immaculate, evoking the Virgin Mary and its scriptural origin, Song Sol 4:7, said of the bride: ‘there is no spot in thee’ (see J.N. King 1982: 368-71, 1989: 257-61). For Elizabeth’s association with King Solomon and the bride, see L.S. Johnson 1990: 156-71. Also said of the ermine, appearing below at 58. The phrase manages to record (or conceal) a discreet (or tactless) reference to Anne Boleyn, claiming that Elizabeth’s birth, despite her mother’s tragedy, is innocent.
52-53‘Heavenly birth is mentioned about thirty times from S.C. to Proth. It is of course corollary to Spenser’s Platonism as set forth in H.L. and H.B.’ (Var 7: 281).
52 grace: Both social and Christian grace.
blotte: stain, tarnish
55 See, where she sits upon the grassie greene: E.K.’s gloss on Nov 178 (Colin’s vision of Queen Dido in the Elisian fields), is apropos here: ‘A lively Icon, or representation as if he saw her . . . present.’
57-58 Scarlot . . . white: The colors of both England and St. George.
57 Scarlot: A color of royalty; a rich cloth not always of scarlet color.
58 Ermines: Emblematic of purity, as in the ‘Ermine Portrait’ of Elizabeth (1585; see Strong 1963: 82; 1977: 147-9).
59-63 Cremosin . . .Violet: The flowers in Elisa’s crown bloom across the seasons, from early spring (daffodils, primroses) to early summer (damask roses), evoking the prelapsarian Eden and associated with the Golden Age (Cullen 1970: 112-9). See the more detailed catalogue of flowers at 136-44 and note.
59 Cremosin coronet: E.K. Probably a garland of red roses (associated with Venus and the Three Graces, and with the Virgin Mary). Elisa (and Elizabeth) is thus a Diana-Venus figure (Brooks-Davies 1995: 64-5).
60 Damaske roses: Red or pink roses thought to have originated in Damascus.
60 Daffadillies: Daffodils (maybe white asphodel). Cf. Jan 22 and note, as well as Apr 140.
61 Bayleaves: Symbolic of both virginity and conquest, but also of poetic fame. At 104-5, Colin sees the Muses bearing ‘Bay braunches’ for Elisa ‘in her hand to weare’.
62 Primroses: Cf. Feb 166 and E.K’s gloss for the flower’s significance.
63 Embellish: E.K.
63 Violet: Color of modesty and love.
65 Phœbe: E.K.
haveour: bearing
68 medled: E.K.
68 yfere: E.K. notes the symbolic import for the Tudors of mingling red and white roses. Spenser’s artistic technique stamps Elisa’s complexion with the politics of the nation. See 124n.
depeincten: depict, depaint
lively: lifelike
69 depeincten: OED sees as an intermediate form between depaint and depict.
69 lively: A term from Spenser’s artistic vocabulary. See 55n.
73-82 Phœbus . . . Cynthia: The sun and moon looking down on Elisa evoke the civic virtues of justice and mercy.
73-81 I sawe Phœbus . . . to have the overthrowe: E.K. A Petrarchan conceit, in which the lady is brighter than the sun; see Petrarch, RS 115. The lines may be imitated by Giles Fletcher, Christs Victorie 620-1: ‘heav’n awakened all his eyes / To see another Sunne, at midnight rise.’ Thomas Warton ‘believes that these lines may have been the inspiration of lines 77-84 of Milton’s Nativity Ode’ (Var 7: 283). The conceit, in which Colin dares Phoebus to compare his brightness with Elisa’s, is a displaced version of ‘Colin’s myth of vocational anxiety’: the singing contest between Pan and Apollo (Montrose 1979: 43). For ‘dare’ as part of Spenser’s vocabulary of the singing match, see Aug 2, 21, 24.
74-76 gaze . . . amaze: These two words, and their variations, bring a relatively new emphasis to modern English poetry: a fascination with something beyond the rational, in which a subject gazes on an object of desire that amazes. Skelton occasionally includes such rapture in Philip Sparrow, even using the rhyme ‘gaze’ and ‘amaze’ (1099-1100). Colin’s epiphany of Elisa is Spenser’s first instance of such discourse, which, as the Renaissance proceeds, will become associated with an aesthetic of the sublime, first theorized by Longinus (On Sublimity). See ‘abasht’ and ‘dasht’ at 83-5, as well as E.K’s gloss on Hobbinol’s emblem: ‘overcome with the hugeness of his imagination’.
77 another Sunne: Called a parhelion: ‘A bright spot in the sky, often associated with a solar halo and often occurring in pairs on either side of the sun (or occas. above and below it), caused by the reflection of sunlight on ice crystals in the atmosphere; a mock sun, a sun dog’. Cf. Sidney’s ‘When two suns do appear’ from the third book of The Old Arcadia (213). At FQ V.iii.19, Spenser will return to the parhelion when representing the False Florimell set beside the true.
have the overthrowe: be defeated
82 Cynthia: E.K. Diana, goddess of the moon.
86-90 But I will not match . . . take heede: Colin backs off his hyperbolic claim of overthrowing Phoebus, inaugurating a recurrent Spenserian move: he relies on the modesty topos to secure authorial self-protection. Simultaneously, however, the lines refuse to deify both Elizabeth and the poet’s image of her—in a sober darkening of the epideictic proclamation to herald the return of the Golden Age.
86-87 Latonaes . . . Niobe: E.K. Aprill ‘cannot allow any positive images of maternity. . . . The only other “mother” in the Calender is the unfortunate she-goat of Maye’ (McCabe 1995: 26-7). See note below on the Emblems.
86 Latonaes seede: Apollo and Diana (Phoebus and Phoebe/Cynthia). In addition to E.K.’s gloss, see Ovid, Met 6.146-311.
92 Bellibone: E.K. Fr belle, ‘beautiful’; bonne, ‘good’. Cf. the cameo appearance of ‘the bouncing Bellibone’ at Aug 61.
96 milkwhite Lamb: Emblematic of innocence and humility, but also a pastoral prize, often awarded at singing contests, as at Aug 37-9, where Perigot wagers his ‘spotted Lambe’.
99 Albee . . . forswatt: E.K. Cf. Plowman’s Tale, a pseudo-Chaucerian poem featured by Protestants as a central work of prophetic poetry : ‘He was forswonke and al forswat’ (14; see Norbrook 2002). Whereas The Plowman’s Tale presents the plowman as a laboring reformer, Spenser’s imitation introduces a significant change, converting the laborer into a poet (Little 2013: 162-3). Colin’s attention to his own labor sits uneasily within the eclogue’s putatively ‘recreative’ form (McCabe 1995: 25-6).
100 Calliope: E.K. Calliope is the Muse of epic poetry, and mother of Orpheus, Spenser’s primary archetype of the civilizing poet. Cf. June 57.
trace: tread
103 Violines: Evidently, an early use of the word, and Spenser’s only use of it.
104 Bay braunches: E.K. See 61n.
108-117 heaven . . . heaven: An eclogue that nominally celebrates the immanence of Queen Elisa keeps gesturing to her transcendence, evident in both her ‘heavenly haveour’ at 66 and her ‘heavuenly race’ at 53: at 97 and 101, the sovereign is Colin’s ‘goddesse’.
109-117 Lo how . . . rest in heaven: Spenser will refer to the Three Graces throughout his poetic canon (most importantly at FQ VI.x.10-28).
foote: dance
109-110 foote / to the Instrument: The phrase suggests a pun on metric foot.
109 the graces: E.K.
110 Instrument: Shepherd’s pipe.
111 deffly: E.K.
111 soote: E.K.
112 meriment: E.K.
113 fourth grace: Traditionally Venus, but here Queen Elizabeth, married to her land and its inhabitants (Spenser will recycle the conceit importantly at FQ VI.x.12-6, 25).
yeven: given
114 yeven: Medievalism.
116 fourth place: See 113n.
rennes: runs
118 rennes: Medievalism.
118 bevie: E.K.
120 behight: E.K.
122 Chloris: E.K. She was the daughter of Amphion, who used his musical instrument to raise the wall of Thebes (Homer, Od 282-6). Thus, Amphion joins Orpheus as an archetype for the civilizing poet (see Rome 341-4). Chloris was also a cult name for Queen Elizabeth.
Coronall: wreath
123 Coronall: See Feb 178 and note.
124 Olives bene: E.K. Another overt political image (see note to ‘yfere’ at 68).
surcease: cease
126 principall: Not just ‘of prime importance’ but also ‘befitting a prince’.
127 Ye shepheards daughters: The only non-mythological figures addressed by Colin, allowing for a local (Kentish, English) audience to appear on the grassy green, but also lending to the address a formally pastoral tint.
hye: hurry
whereas: where
fillets: ribbons worn in the hair
133 Binde your: E.K.
finesse: elegance
135 tawdrie lace: A silk band, here worn around the waist. St. Audrey died of a throat tumor as punishment for the vanity of her necklaces; hence ‘tawdrie’. The lace is ‘an artifact symbolic of . . . tensions between high and humble. It was sold at fairs on the feast of St. Audrey or Ethelrida. . . . The cheaper, cloth necklaces named for the dead saint and favored by country lasses were a way of simultaneously warding off and defying such a punishment because they were humbler yet showy’ (McCoy 1997: 62).
136-144 Cullambine . . . flowre Delice: The catalogue of flowers is a specialty of Spenser, and first appears here (and in abbreviated form at 60-3). Shakespeare memorably transposes the Spenserian device to such stage heroines as Ophelia in Hamlet and Perdita in Winter’s Tale. See 59-63 and note.
Cullambine: columbine
136 Cullambine: A symbol of love.
Gelliflowres: gillyflowers (i.e., clove pinks)
Coronations: carnations
138 Coronations: A pun on L corona, ‘crown’; also a symbol of love. A political image.
138 Sops in wine: A variety of clove pink used to flavor wine, sometimes at marriages. Cf. Maye 14.
140 Daffadowndillies: the daffodil, which had Venerean associations (Brooks-Davies 1995: 71). Cf. Apr 60, as well as Jan 22 and note.
Kingcups: buttercups
141 Kingcups: A political pun.
Pawnce: pansy
142 Pawnce: A symbol of thought.
143 Chevisaunce: Not identified. Elsewhere, Spenser uses the word to mean ‘knightly adventures’, derived from Fr chevauché, enterprise, as at Maye 92: ‘Is the implication that the project of the marriage is suspect? Spenser’s garland of flowers provides an elaborate, if not impenetrable, camouflage for his private opinions’ (Norbrook 2002: 79). Yet ‘it is not Anjou but Colin who dissimulates chevisaunce among the flowers for Elisa’: ‘self-interested “enterprise” and even a desire for “chiefedome” over Elizabeth may lurk not only in the breasts of foreign princes but also in the encomiastic verse of English courts poets . . . presenting Spenser as a forthright client who has nothing to hide from his patrons’ (LaBreche 2010: 92-3).
144 flowre Delice: E.K. Fleur de lis or iris, the French royal emblem. Inescapably, the flower evokes the French marriage with Alençon, as ‘match with’ invites. The curiosity of the last three flowers in the catalogue, ‘Pawnce,’ ‘Chevisaunce,’ and ‘flowre Delice’, evoke the triplex vita of Ficino’s Neoplatonism: thought, action, and pleasure, represented in Minerva, Juno, and Venus in the Judgment of Paris myth, in order to lend to the Queen a ‘threefold ideal life’ (Cain 1978: 23).
145-153 Now ryse . . . among: E.K.
145 Now ryse up Elisa, decked as thou art: Colin and Spenser have indeed dressed Elisa, perhaps with a pun on ‘art’ (familiar from Jan 20; see note). Spenser’s command to his sovereign appears bold but is in keeping with the decorum of the praise poem, which self-consciously features the poet’s role in helping to make his subject immortal: the portrait is formally artistic (see Cain 1978: 17).
echeone: each one
Damsines: damsons, small blue plums
152 Damsines: E.K. Cf. 96, where Colin offers Elisa a lamb.
part: share
154-159 And was . . . cannot purchase: Spenser ends the eclogue with an ‘odd emphasis on the problem of purchase’ in order to ‘turn . . . the tables on those who mock him and [he] answers doubts about the effectiveness of his approach. . . . A key factor in Spenser’s approach is his rejection of the courtly obsession with access and proximity’, which he counters through indirectness and evasion, a refusal to court openly (McCoy 1997: 64).
155 yblent: E.K.
taking: condition; plight
lewdly bent: foolishly inclined; set on baseness
fon: fool
163-165 O quam . . . certe: As E.K. points out in his gloss, the emblems of Thenot and Hobbinol both come from Virgil, Aen 1.327-28, spoken by Aeneas to his mother Venus in disguise as a huntress: ‘what name should I call thee, O maiden? . . . O goddess surely!’ The emblems draw attention to Spenser’s deification of Elizabeth and of his own artistic image of her, and gesture to the dynastic, imperial operation of both. Spenser will re-play the Virgilian scene at FQ II.iii.32-3 and FQ III.vii.11. Yet, in contrast to Virgil’s representation, Spenser’s suggestion of a human who is divine is arguably the key idea and legacy of his canon, from Elisa here and Prince Arthur in The Faerie Queene to the beloved in Amoretti and Epithalamion and the Somerset brides in Prothalamion: ‘The image of the heavens in shape humane’ (Colin Clout 351, spoken of Cynthia/Elizabeth). E.K.’s emblems may be offset with Colin’s disclaimer at lines 86-90: ‘But I will not match her with Latonaes seede, / Such follie great sorow to Niobe did breede. / Now she is a stone, / And makes dayly mone, / Warning all other to take heede.’
0 A number of E.K.’s glosses are printed out of order. Words appearing in lines 73, 82, 86-7, 92, and 99 of the eclogue are glossed in the sequence 92, 99, 73, 82, 86-7. The disorder affects the notes below only at [73].
delaye: moisten; temper with moisture, assuage
14 ποιεϊν: Gr poiein, to make
12-13 to make . . . Poetes: Cf. Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie 1.1: ‘A poet is as much to say as a maker. And our English name well conforms with the Greek word’. Cf. also Sidney, Defence of Poetry 150-6.
19 lasse of Kent: Cf. Feb 74.
29 Myrto: Theocritus, Idylls 7.97.
30 Lauretta: Laura in Petrarch, RS 5.
31 Stesichorus: Ancient Greek poet who was blinded by the gods for impugning the virtue of Helen of Troy. E.K. does not record the continuation of the story: Stesichorus’ sight was restored when he wrote a recantation featuring a virtuous Helen, who, he said, did not sail to Troy but was substituted by a false Helen, an eidolon (phantom, spirit), perhaps evoked (or remembered) in E.K’s word ‘idol’, meaning ‘an image or similitude of a deity’ (OED; cf. Roche 1964: 152-67; Hamilton 2001: 363). Himera was not the mistress of Stesichorus but his native town. For his blinding, see Plato, Phaedrus 243a-b; see also Republic 9.586C. ‘Stesichorus’s ode recantation of the Helen, famously imitated and discussed by Socrates in the Phaedrus’, is the ‘classical source’ of the ‘palinode or recantation’ as ‘a much-used lyric trope in the Renaissance’: ‘The palinode thus signals philosophic enlightenment, and by the late sixteenth century, it contained the promise of deliverance from the blindness of erotic seductions both literal and poetic’ (Ramachandran 2009: 375).
38 Dight: Cf. Jan 22. E.K. labels the word a medievalism, but both Wyatt and Surrey had used it.
39 Roundelayes and Virelayes: Fr medieval lyric forms. Roundelays are short lyrics with a refrain, and are associated with pastoral (OED). Spenser identifies the singing match at Aug 53-124 as a roundelay (56, 124, 125, 140; cf. June 49). Virelays are short lyrics using only two rhymes, ‘the end-rhyme of one stanza being the chief one of the next’ (OED). For details on virelays, see Nov 21 and note, as well as [21]. The first three examples of OED under ‘virelay’ record how its link with roundelays traces to Chaucer, LGW F423, Gower, Confessio Amantis 1.133.2709, and Lydgate, To Soverain Lady 40.
47 Exordium . . . animos: ‘An introduction to prepare the hearers.’ ‘Animus’ also means soul or spirit, suggesting Orphic power.
48 daughters . . . Memorie: On the genealogy of the Muses, see Conti, Myth 4.10; 7.15. Jupiter/Zeus was traditionally the father of the Muses, while Apollo, their leader, was god of music and poetry: Hesiod, Theogony 53-6.
59 άργυρέον μέλος: Gr argurion melos, i.e., silver song (not in Hesiod).
71.lem-73 Θυμός . . . Ζεύς: Homer, Il 2.196-7: ‘Proud is the heart of god-nurtured kings; for their honour is from Zeus, and Zeus, god of counsel, loveth them’ (our translation).  The 1579 reading for the last two words of 71, διοτρεφέως βασιλήως (diotrefeōs basileōs), is obviously erroneous, since the form of both words seems to straddle plural and singular. We emend, therefore, following the now-accepted Homeric reading, which casts both words in the plural. We note, however, that many Renaissance editions derive from a competing manuscript tradition that gives the reading, διοτρεφέος βασιλῆος (diotrefeos basilēos, 'god-nurtured king’); it is likely that E.K.’s quotation derives inaccurately from one of these editions.
100 Epigrams: Nomina Musarum, the fourth-century poet Ausonius’s mnemonic on the Nine Muses, once attributed to Virgil.
102 Signat . . . gestu: ‘Polymnia indicates everything with her hand, speaking through action.’
111-112 Arbor . . . Poeti: See Petrarch, RS 263: Arbor vittoriosa triunfale, / onor d’imperadori et di poeti (‘Victorious triumphal tree, the honor of emperors and poets’).
113 Graces: Cf. Seneca, De Beneficiis, 1.3; Servius, Commentarii (Aeneis 1.7220).
115 Pasithea: See Homer, Il 14.276.
117 Theodontius: A medieval Italian mythographer, known only from Boccaccio, Gen Deor.
121 Boccace: Gen Deor 5.35.
leasing: lie
136-137 Authors of King Arthure the great and such like: E.K. sides with Roger Ascham, late tutor to Queen Elizabeth, who attacks Arthurian romance in his 1570 The Scholemaster (27r-v). Antiquarian attacks on the historical veracity of King Arthur were making the Tudor claim of descent from Arthur problematic (see Escobedo 2004: 45-80).
145 Olives bene: Cf. Virgil, Georg 2.425, Aen 8.116, 11.330-4; Psalms 52:8, 128:3.
151 Neptune and Minerva: Cf. Servius, Commentarii (Georg 1.12).
quantitye: size
158 Coronation: A sixteenth-century variant for carnation, or cultivated pink; named because the tooth-edged petals make the flower look like a coronet (OED).
159 Flowre de luce: ‘Flower of light’. The flowre-de-luce is the lily, emblem of purity, of Juno, goddess of marriage (hence of the Virgin Queen’s marriage to her realm).
160 Flos delitiarum: ‘Flower of pleasure’.
sensible: perceptible, striking
140 Apr gl 140: Behight] The obvious error in 1579 remained uncorrected until 1611.
164 Παρου ία: Gr parousia, making a thing seem present.
183-184 [Em] Dianaes damosells . . . forth: Cf. Virgil, Aen 1.314-20.

Maye is the first of three ecclesiastical eclogues, followed by Julye and September; but it has affinities with the ‘moral’ dialogue-and-fable structure of Februarye, the family narrative of March, and the holiday-dance atmosphere of Aprill. These four topics--politics, courtly ethics, family life, artistic holiday—open up the resonance of Maye considerably.

Without question, the eclogue focuses on church politics, as indicated by E.K. in his Argument and his glosses but also by the dialogue between two middle-age shepherds, Piers and Palinode, who use key ecclesiastical language to evoke contemporary religious debates. Their dialogue divides into three parts. In lines 1-173, the shepherds advance cases for radically different pastoral ‘perspectives’ on ‘the role of the priest in the world’ (Cullen 1970: 41): Palinode, for the care-free pleasure of May Day festivals as acceptable acts of conduct; Piers, for austere pastoral discipline prohibiting such conduct. Then, in lines 174-305 Piers tells an Aesopian fable about the Fox and the Kid, featuring the Kid’s vulnerability to the wiles of the Fox, despite the care of the Kid’s mother. Finally, in lines 306-17 the two shepherds amicably discuss the social utility of the fable and go home for the night.

The shepherds’ dialogue replays debates familiar from such Henrician, Edwardian, and Marian polemicists as William Turner and John Bale, and in particular the Elizabethan Anthony Gilby’s Pleasant Dialogue (composed 1566, published late 1570s), between a zealous Protestant and a worldly chaplain (Norbrook 2002: 57; see Hume 1984: 20-5; J.N. King 1990: 37). In the background, as well, lies A Theatre for Voluptuous Worldlings, which presents Jan van der Noot’s commentary on the history of the slow collapse of the Church, drawing heavily on Bale’s Image of Both Churches. The work of situating the present in a history of the Church, a history carefully articulated to bring it in accord—or into various accords—with the prophetic idioms of the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation is not only Bale’s project but also the historical vision of John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. Piers’ fable adapts Aesop’s story of the Wolf and Kid, turning the Wolf of Catholic evil into a deceptive Fox, in accord with Protestant polemic against Church of England clergy (Brennan 1986). Moreover, in the background is Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ and John 10:14, Christ as the Good Shepherd, but also the tradition of ecclesiastical satire emerging in the eclogues of Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Mantuan. Combining continental, biblical, classical, and historical materials, Maye thus offers a rich meditation on the role of the Elizabethan pastor in matters of church government, focusing primarily on the behavior of the episcopate, the acceptability of their wearing vestments, and the threat of the Jesuit Mission infiltrating England (undercover priests meeting secretly with the Catholic faithful). The dialogue format ensures that Spenser’s own perspective remains concealed. Milton famously indicted Palinode as ‘that false Shepheard’ who figures ‘our Prelates, whose life is a recantation of their pastorall vow’ (Animadversions upon the Remonstrants Defence against Smectymnuus, in Prose Works 1953: 1.722), but Palinode does appear as a sympathetic, even affable figure (Cain 1988: 86; Chamberlain 2005: 49).

Maye also has a social dynamic that focuses on the importance of ‘care’, a word that appears five times (48, 77, 96, 180, 215), more than in any other eclogue. Not merely pastors but parents and the sovereign herself are pressed to engage in a social duty committed to self-sacrifice, modeled on the teachings of ‘Algrind’ (a figure for Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury [see 75n; cf. Lane 1993: 101,109]). The concept of care is tied to work, and indicates Spenser’s interest in signaling a shift from a classical ideal of pastoral otium (leisure) to a medieval ideal of agrarian labor: in short, from Virgil’s Eclogues to Langland’s Piers Plowman (Little 2013: 143-56).

When Piers criticizes shepherds that ‘caren little’ for their ‘flocke’ (39-49), he uses a pastoral metaphor that Spenser first applies to himself in his role as poet (‘To His Booke’ 9-10). Hence, Maye includes details that extend the dialogue to the role of art and poetry in the world (Montrose 1983: 451-2; Alpers 1985: 94)--in particular, to the difficulty that those who lack art (and by extension, poetry) have when trying to care for their flock (Berger 1988: 304; see Chamberlain 2005: 45; L.S. Johnson 1990: 77-9; Herman 1992: 19-20). Such artistic details emerge first in the Argument, when E.K. says that Piers and Palinode ‘represent . . . two formes of pastours or Ministers’, with Piers pausing to ‘tell . . . a tale’ to Palinode (2-7; emphasis added). Palinode’s depiction of May Day ‘mask[ing]’, with its ‘merimake’ (2, 15) of ‘shepheardes . . . singing’, ‘play[ing]’, ‘pyp[ing]’, and ‘daunc[ing]’ to ‘fetchen home May with their musicall’ (20-8), formally versifies poetic art. At one point, Spenser’s willingness to implicate himself as a poet appears especially daring, for the deceptive Fox has a ‘hinder heele . . . wrapt in a clout’ (243)—the word ‘clout’ nominally meaning bandage but inescapably evoking Colin Clout, as Spenser’s pun in November makes available. There, Queen Elisa gives her shepherds ‘clouted Creame. / O heavie herse, / Als Colin cloute she would not once disdayne’ (99-101; see note, and March 50n). The artistic details are so pervasive that we may well see the eclogue as ‘an allegory about allegory, or about the imperative for allegorical reading’ (Halpern 1991: 210 on the fable; see 182, 208-11). Intriguingly, Spenser presents the instrumentality of poetic narrative itself when, at the end, Palinode ask Piers, ‘let me thy tale borrowe’ (308), the word ‘borrowe’ evoking the process of imitation, of putting art to work in society. In Maye, that work is the mark of valuable ‘pastours’: clergy, politicians, heads of family, authors.

Remarkably, the woodcut features an artistic reading, exiling the debating shepherds to the upper-left corner, breaking the fable into three parts scattered around the block, and bringing Palinode’s May Day festival front and center: eight figures (and one standing figure) dance around a wagon carrying a man and a woman (‘the Lord of Misrule and his lady’ [Luborksy 1981: 35]), pulled by two winged horses, evoking Pegasus, symbol of poetic inspiration and artistic fame (Cain in Oram 1989: 86), perhaps with the symbolic power of Plato’s winged horses of reason and desire in the Phaedrus (cf. Borris 2014; see Dec 63-4n).

The verse of Maye consists of a varying meter of a tetrameter line in couplets, divided between Piers’ ‘rugged tetrameters’ that evoke ‘the moral ethos of [work in] The Plowman’s Tale’ and Palinode’s ‘infectious music’ evoking May Day sport (McCabe 1999: 534), as well as contrasting two models of time, one largely artistic, the other finally religious: Palinode’s classical ‘carpe diem attitude’ and Piers’ Christian attitude toward history leading to the ‘account’ (51, 54) of the Last Judgment (Snyder 1998: 34).

Easily the longest of the eclogues at 321 lines, Maye assumes a central position in The Shepheardes Calender—indeed in the Spenser canon—for representing a compelling interplay of church, state, and family in the realm of English poetry.

1 Piers: Rather than representing a specific historical personage, such as William Percy, Thomas Preston, or John Piers (Var 7: 295-6; McLane 1961: 175-87), the name most accurately evokes Langland’s Piers Plowman, together with the tradition of prophetic reform that this literary figure came to signify for English Protestants (J.N. King 1982: 319-39; Norbrook 2002: 56); however, Spenser’s Piers is not a plowman, or figure of rural labor, but a shepherd as priest (Little 2013: 149-50). Piers reappears in October.
2 Palinodie: Similarly, rather than representing such historical figures as Henry Constable or Andrew Perne (Var 7: 295-6), Palinode most directly figures ‘a defence of traditional revelry against Puritan attacks’ (Norbrook 2002: 65). A palinode is ‘Originally: an ode or song in which the author retracts a view or sentiment expressed in a former poem. Later also (more generally): a recantation, retraction, or withdrawal of a statement’ (OED). Spenser’s shepherd is a ‘palinode’ in that his ‘seize the day’ poetics, valuing the green world of May, ‘retracts’ the austere poetics of pastoral duty, valued by Piers.
2 represented: Either ‘present[ed] the image of’ or ‘symboliz[ed]’ (OED)--drawing attention to the specifically literary quality of the eclogue.
2 pastoures: Combines classical shepherds with Christian pastors or clergymen.
3 Ministers: A ‘politically loaded’ term (Brooks-Davies 1995: 81), used by Protestants to designate a member of the English clergy in opposition to a Catholic priest (OED).
6 felowship: ‘[A]nother loaded word’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 81), ranging in meaning from ‘partnership’ to ‘political alliance’, but also having Reformation meaning, referring to ‘membership’ within a (Protestant) church (OED). Cf. Gal 2:9: ‘the right hands of fellowship’, which Geneva glosses: ‘They gave us their hand in token that we agreed wholly to the doctrine of the Gospel’. The word recurs at 172 and [174].
6 credit: belief
6 colourable: feigned
8 counterpoynt: counterstroke; trick
1 thilke: E.K.
4 gawdy greene: ‘[G]reen dyed with weld, yellowish green’ (OED). This meaning of ‘gaudy’ appears only in combination with ‘green’; the phrase is rare. Cf. Chaucer, CT Knight 2079: ‘In gaude grene hir [Diana’s] statue clothed was’. Green is also the natural color of spring.
5 bloncket liveryes: E.K. The phrase identifies Palinode and Piers as ‘parish priests’ (Hume 1984: 15).
6 ycladd: E.K.
7 pleasaunce: That which feels pleasurable, but evoking the pleasure garden of the May Day ritual that Palinode describes. Thus his commitment to pleasure, reiterated throughout the eclogue (e.g.,‘merimake’ at 15), evokes one of the Horatian goals of poetry: to delight (detached from the other goal, to instruct).
9 Yougthes . . . where: E.K.
10 To gather . . . brere: Cf. Chaucer, Rom 54-6: ‘For ther is neither busk nor hay / In May, that it nyl shrouded ben, / And it with newe leves wren,’ and 101-2: ‘The song of briddes forto here / That in thise buskes syngen clere’.
10 buskets: E.K. A rare word that Spenser appears to coin.
dight: adorn, decorate
eare: ere
12 Kirke: E.K.
Eglantine: wild rose
14 Sopps in wine: A variety of clove pink used to flavor wine. See Apr 138 and [136].
15 holy Saints: With the exception of ‘Saint John’ at TVW 15.1, this is the first use of the word ‘saint’ in Spenser’s poetic canon. He uses the word sparingly, although in FQ I he features ‘Saint George’ as a Protestant hero (x.61), while in his marriage poetry he recurrently identifies Elizabeth Boyle as his ‘sweete Saint’ (Am 22.4; see, e.g., Epith 208). In the context of Palinode’s speech and character, the reference evokes Catholicism’s veneration of sainthood and saints days, allowed by conservative members of the English Church, even though oppositional to the Calvinist concept of ‘the elect’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 82; see J.N. King 1990: 40, 188-99). At 247, Palinode refers to ‘sweete Saint Charitee’, and in his gloss E.K. notes the Catholicism. Cf. Julye 113-26, where Thomalin assigns the Reformation model to Algrind, whose teaching distinguishes between the outward celebration of a mountain, because it is sacred to a saint, and the inward celebration of the saint himself, because he has been elected to heaven.
16 But we here sytten as drownd in a dreme: Cf. the opening to Langland’s Piers Plowman, which also ‘sets together water and dreaming’ (Little 2013: 151): ‘And as I lay and lenede and loked on þe watres / I slombred into a slepyng, it sweyed so murye. / Thanne gan I meten a merueillous sweuene’ (B Version, Prologue 9-11).
15 queme: E.K. Medievalism.
17-18 For Younkers . . . elder witt: Cf. 1 Cor 13:11: ‘when I became a man, I put away childish things’.
Younkers: young men, youths
tway: two
18 tway: A Northern/Scots form of two, evoking rusticity.
18 elder witt: Knowledge of an elderly person; wisdom of a Protestant minister (elder translates Gk presbyteros, πρεσβύτερος). ‘Piers hints at the model followed in Scotland by Calvin’s disciple John Knox and reinforced here, as in Julye and September, by the adoption of northern/Scots linguistic forms which complement the “plowman” persona’ of the Protestant reform tradition (Brooks-Davies 1995: 82).
lenger: longer
19 lenger: Archaic.
outgoe: go forth
20 shole of shepeheardes: E.K. A group of ‘pastours’ or ‘Ministers’.
Tabrere: tabor player, drummer
22 yode: E.K. Archaic but not infrequent in sixteenth-century literary texts.
many: company
25 jouysaunce: E.K.
hem: them
27 greene Wood: See 178 and note.
27 hem: Colloquial, possibly archaic.
musicall: musical performance
28 May: The lord of the May festival celebrating the blossoming of the hawthorn tree, called a ‘may’ (see Barber 1959: 18-24).
attone: at one with
31 Flora: Roman goddess of flowers, and thus a fertility deity, as well as the flower goddess of May. She was metamorphosed from Chloris when Zephyrus, the West Wind, tried to rape her (Ovid, Fasti 5.195-224; see Botticelli’s Primavera). While Spenser can see Flora as a beneficent figure (Apr 122), E.K. in his gloss at March 16 emphasizes her role as a harlot. Palinode’s celebration of Flora as the ‘Queen’ of ‘Faeries’ on her ‘royall throne’ glances at Queen Elisa in Aprill, but it manages to evoke both views of the flower goddess. Here Spenser uses colorful poetry to complicate the folly of Palinode’s hedonist celebration with the feminine charm of fairy beauty.
32 A fayre . . . bend: Cf. Chaucer, Rom 1079: ‘And with a bend of gold tasseled’.
33-34 O that I were there . . . Maybush beare: A fantasy of male longing: to enter into feminine space, as the pun on ‘beare’ intimates, with Palinode a forerunner to Shakespeare’s Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Maybush: a hawthorn branch
36 How . . . swinck: Cf. Chaucer, CT Gen Pro 1.188: ‘Lat Austyn have his swynk to hym reserved!’
36 swinck: E.K. Medievalism.
fondnesse: folly
38 inly: E.K.
39-44 Those faytours . . . unfedde: For an attack on the clergy, see Julye 169-80.
39 faytours: E.K. Cf. Plowman’s Tale 164, said of priests: ‘All suche faytours foule hem fall’.
40 letting their sheepe runne at large: Cf. 173 (and note) where Piers consents to doing precisely this.
sparely: frugally
lustihede: vigor; lustfulness
stedde: place
45-50 Well is it . . . but a peece: An attack on the Elizabethan abuse of pluralism, wherein unqualified men were hired cheaply as pastors, while holders of the benefice were absent but still receiving much of the income (on ‘fee structure and inheritance’ and the emphasis on ‘financial good’ here, rather than spiritual ‘reward’, see Little 2013: 152-3; on the ‘financial transaction’ in the fable, see Little 2013: 155). In the background is John 10:11-15: ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for his shepe. But an hireling, and he which is not the shepherd, neither the shere are his owne, seeth the wolf coming, and he leaveth the sheep, and fleeth, and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the shepe’.
fallen: befalls
peece: portion
muse: wonder
54 great Pan: E.K. For Pan as Christ, see Maye 111, Julye 49-50, Sept 96. Cf. Virgil, Ecl 2.33: Pan curat ovis oviumque magistros (‘Pan cares for the sheep and the shepherds of the sheep’).
54 account: The Last Judgment. Cf. 51, as well as Matt 12:36: ‘But I say unto you, that of everie idle worde that men shal speake, they shal give account thereof at the day of judgement’.
55-72 Sicker now . . . other end: Cf. Julye 209-12.
of spight: from spite
somedele: somewhat
57 I (as I am): E.K.
All: although
fonly: foolishly
61 nas: E.K.
sith: seeing that
65 Reapen: Cf. Gal 6:8: ‘For he that soweth to his flesh, shal of the flesh reape corruption: but he that soweth to the spirit, shal of the spirit reape life everlasting’.
other moe: many more
Tho: then
wends: departs
69 Tho with them: E.K.
73 worldes childe: Piers’ evocative summarizing epithet signals Palinode’s naïve love of things worldly. The phrase appears to be original to Spenser, but cf. Luke 16:8: ‘And the Lord commended the unjust stewarde, because he had done wisely. Wherefore the children of this worlde are in their generacion wiser then the children of light’. Cf. also Hugh Latimer, The sermon that the reverende father in Christ (1537): ‘But yf the chyldren of this worlde be eyther mo in nombre, or more prudent than the children of light, what than avayleth us to have this convocation? Had it not ben better, we had not ben called togyther at all?’ (sig Ciii^r^). According to OED, a ‘worldling’ is ‘A person who is devoted to the interests and pleasures of the world; a worldly or worldly-minded person’, citing ‘1549 Coverdale et al. tr. Erasmus Paraphr. Newe Test. II. Jude f. xxiii^v^, They bee worldelinges [L animales], and gevyng them selves in to the service of worldly affectes [L mundanis affectibus]’. Cf. Mammon at FQ II.vii.8.1: ‘God of the world and worldlings I me call’. The word ‘child’ could refer to a boy or lad, and could be used affectionately or contemptuously (OED).
74 touches . . . defilde: Cf. Ecclus 13:1: ‘He that toucheth pitch, shalbe defiled with it: and he that is familiar with the proude, shal be like unto him’; the Geneva gloss reads: ‘The companies of the proude and of the riche are to be eschewed’.
75-90 But shepheards . . . wasted with misgovernaunce: Refers to the Elizabethan controversy over whether clergy should remain celibate or marry. Although Queen Elizabeth did not favor the practice of celibacy, the Church allowed it.
75 Algrind: E.K. First reference to the shepherd featured in Julye, an anagram for Edward Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury, suspended in 1577 by order of Elizabeth after he supported the Puritan practice of ‘prophesyings’, private meetings conducted by the clergy to interpret Scripture. See Julye headnote and notes at 126, 215-30.
77 With them . . . heire: ‘For laymen it is fitting to provide for their heirs’.
78 Enaunter: E.K.
wont countenaunce: customary appearance
81-94 But shepheard . . . them overflowe: The Protestant doctrine of ‘living by faith’, by which the godly person organizes his or her life around belief in the redemptive power of the spirit, not the body. Derived from Matt 6:19-32: ‘Lay not up treasures for your selves upon the earth. . . . Therefore take no thoght, saying, What shal we eat? or what shal we drinke? or wherewith shal we be clothed? (For after all these things seke the Gentiles) for your heavenlie Father knoweth that ye have nede of all these things’. Cf. Luke 12. For the Pauline concept of ‘inheritance’ of the spirit, see Acts 26:18; Gal 3:18; Col 1:12. Yet cf. Cuddie’s claim in October that poets have to eat (33-4), as well as Spenser’s recurrent emphasis throughout SC on the importance of patronage.
Sike: such
foresay: reject
82 sovenance: E.K.
spard: spared; put aside
bootes: helps
trust: estate; property entrusted (through a bequest)
misgovernaunce: mismanagement
91 miscreaunce: E.K.
chevisaunce: enterprise
92 chevisaunce: E.K. Cf. Aprill 143-4 and notes. See Chaucer, CT Shipman 7.329, said of a merchant, ‘That nedes moste he make a chevyssaunce’; and 391: ‘For that I to hym spak of chevyssaunce’.
94 floddes . . . overflowe: Ps 69:15: ‘Let not the water floods drown me’.
100-95 Sike mens . . . her youngling: Anticipates Piers’ fable of a mother and her child. For his ape lore, cf. Pliny, Natural History 8.80.216; Whitney, Choice of Emblems 188: ‘With kindness, lo, the Ape doth kill her whelp, / Through clasping hard. . . . / Even so, the babes, whose nature, Art should help: / The parents fond do hazard them with harms’.
straight: tight
103-131 The time was once . . . nor borrowe: A poetic version of the Puritan narrative about the simplicity of the primitive church corrupted by later practice.
fee in sufferaunce: payment
106 sufferaunce: ‘The condition of the holder of an estate who, having come in by lawful right, continues to hold it after the title has ceased without the express leave of the owner’ (OED).
ywis: indeed, certainly
forgoe: do without
111 Pan . . . inheritaunce: E.K. Cf. Deut 10:9: ‘for the Lord is his inheritance’.
served: sufficed
115 Butter . . . whay: For the biblical imagery, cf. Gen 18:8; Josh 5:6; Isa 7:15; 1 Pet 2:2.
araye: attire
tract: duration
obeysaunce: obedience
gape for: desire eagerly
governaunce: temporal power; mode of living
121 Some gan: E.K.
123 Lovers of Lordship: Evokes Puritan contempt for the Church’s retention of episcopacy. For Peter’s warning against ‘lordship’, see 1 Pet 5:1-4.
ligge: lie, recline
126-127 Tho under . . . guile: Cf. Matt 7:15: ‘Beware of false prophetes, which come to you in shepes clothing, but inwardely they are ravening wolves’. Cf. also the beast fable at Sept 146-225.
somewhile: at some time
130 sourse: E.K.
131 nill . . . borrowe: ‘Cannot be stopped by guarantee or pledge’. See E.K.’s gloss. The word ‘borrowe’ evokes Chaucer (Todd, Var 7: 303): Tr 2.963; CT Squire 5.596; Rom 7307. The word recurs at 150, 308; see note at 308 (and headnote).
132-133 Three thinges . . . outragious: For the pattern, see Prov 30:18, 21, 29.
forbeare: refrain from
outragious: excessive
Wanting: lacking
141 fooles talke: Cf. Prov 18:6-7, 29:11; Eccles 5:3, 10:14.
142-143 I wene . . . height: E.K. For the story of Atlas, cf. Hesiod, Theogony 517; Ovid, Met 2.296-97; 6.174-75; Virgil, Aen 4.481-82. See note on [142].
145 warke: E.K. Northern/Scots.
147 And blamest . . . encheason: Cf. Chaucer, Tr 1.348: ‘And yet if she, for other enchesoun, / Be wroth’.
147 encheason: E.K.
149-157 What? . . . showres: Cf. Sept 236-41.
150 deare borrowe: E.K. See 131n and 308n.
stowres: time of turmoil
beare of: ward off
158-163 And sooth . . . be ended: Cf. 1 Cor 11:16: ‘But if any man lust to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God’ (Geneva gloss: ‘Against such as are stubbornly contentious we have to oppose this, that the Churches of God are not contentious’); Gal 5:26: ‘Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another’ (Geneva gloss: ‘He addeth peculiar exhortations according as he knew the Galatians subject to divers vices: and first of all he warneth them to take heed of ambition, which vice hath two fellows, backbiting and envy, out of which two it cannot be but many contentions must needs arise’).
158 nought seemeth: E.K.
159 witen: E.K. Archaic; Northern/Scots.
160 her: E.K.
163 conteck: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, CT Knight 2003: ‘Contek, with blody knyf and sharp manace’; Nun’s Priest 7.2932: ‘Of contek, and of whelpes, grete and lyte’. Cf. Sept 86. In the 1570s controversy with Thomas Cartwright, John Whitgift ‘repeatedly attacked Puritan contentiousness’ (Hume 1984: 20, quoting The Defense of the Aunswere [1574: sig. A2, B3, B4^v^]).
164 list . . . make: ‘I desire to make no agreement’.
lever: rather
167 lever: From Medieval liefer.
168 For what . . . sam?: Cf. 2 Cor 6:14: ‘what communion hathe light with darknes?’
168 han: E.K.
169 what peace . . . Lambe: Cf. Isa 11:6, 65:25; Mic 5:8.
172 felowship: See Argument and note. Cf. 2 Cor 6:14: ‘what felowship hathe righteousness with unrighteousnes?’
173 Ladde . . . straying: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 5.12, said by Menalcus when instructing Mopsus to tell his story about Phyllis: pascentis servabit Tityrus haedos (‘Tityrus will tend the grazing kids’). Spenser’s word ‘straying’ is ominous. Piers’ directive ‘comically undercuts his earlier self-righteous line. Leaving their sheep to “the ladde” directly contradicts the ostensible allegorical meaning of Piers’ tale, that vigilance is always necessary to protect the innocent from the guileful, and essential to the duty of the good priest’ (Chamberlain 2005: 47).
174-305 Thilke same Kidde . . . bene fayne: Unlike Thenot in Februarie, who ascribes his fable of the Oak and the Briar to Tityrus (Chaucer), Piers neglects to mention a literary origin (but see 308n below). In his gloss at 174, E.K. cites Aesop, but Spenser substitutes the Fox for the Wolf, who could represent ‘a secret papist who presents himself as a Church of England pastor’, as told by a Puritan Piers (Hume 1984: 23) or Catholicism, since the ‘hostility to “popery” was not a Puritan monopoly’ but rather ‘axiomatic in the Elizabethan church’: ‘The immediate political context of the Calender’ is ‘the Jesuit Mission’ in England. Hence, ‘Spenser’s conversion of the biblical Wolf into the Fox . . . alludes to the satirical tradition that the Wolves who could prey openly during a Roman Catholic regime conceal themselves as Foxes under Protestant monarchs’ (J.N. King 1990: 36-7).
devise: imagine; invent
174 devise: See Sept Arg.
too very: extremely
her: his; dame: mother
177 Gate: E.K.
177 dame: OED’s first definition is political, ‘A female ruler,’ and its second social, ‘The “Lady” of the house’. The only previous use in SC refers to ‘dame Eliza’ at Apr 150; the next one refers to ‘Dame Cynthia’ at Aug 89.
178 Yode: E.K.
178 greene wood: The Gate leaves the house for the very place that Palinode locates as the site of the May Day celebration circling around the Fairy Queen Flora: ‘the greene Wood’ (28).
179 play: The word links the Gate’s departure from her home with Palinode’s sojourn to the greenwood (see 23, 44). Cf. Sept 232, ‘with shepheard sittes not playe,’ versus Mar 62 (and the note on it), ‘When shepheardes groomes han leave to playe’.
But for: but because
180 motherly care: Evokes Queen Elizabeth’s care of her people. Cf. Isa 49:23: ‘And Kings shabe thy nourcing fathers, and Queenes shalbe thy nources’. Isaiah becomes ‘a fundamental text for patriarchal/matriarchal theories of monarchical power and responsibility’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 90). On the word ‘care’, see the headnote.
wit to beware: good sense to be careful
182 Shee set: E.K.
favour: grace; good looks
Vellet: velvet
185 Vellet: Northern/Scots.
187 The blossomes of lust: E.K.
187 May 187: bloosmes] We emend following E.K.’s lemma, conscious that the ten-syllable line as printed in 1579 is hardly a gross violation of the metrical norm. Spenser employs the slightly archaic forms, blooſme, blooſmes and blooſming, elsewhere in SC (Jan 34, May 8, and Dec 103) and also at FQ Ded Sonn. Cumberland, 2; FQ IV.viii.2.9, VI.Pr.4.2, VI.viii.20.2, TCM vii.8.8, and TCM vii.28.3. That 1591 opts for the more common form at May 8 and 1597 similarly normalizes Dec 103 evidences compositorial resistance to the archaic forms; similar resistance may have operated in 1579 here at May 187 and perhaps at Feb 167.
ranckly: luxuriantly, vigorously; rank (with lust)
189 and with: E.K.
mought: may
191 Orphane: E.K.
193 that word: E.K.
196 the braunche: E.K.
traines: snares
lusty head: lustiness, vigor
205 For even so: E.K.
hauty: lofty, stately
weld: wield
208 A thrilling throbbe: E.K.
made . . . breache: broke upon her anew
lineaments: characteristics, features
solein: sad; lonely
217 liggen: E.K.
219 maister of collusion: E.K.
confusion: destruction
224 Sperre . . . of fraude: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, Tr 5.531, ‘whan he saugh hire dores spered all’; Skelton, Garland of Laurel 1435, ‘When the stede is stolyn, spar the stable dur’. See 234.
224 Sperre: Medievalism.
224 yate: Northern/Scots.
schooled: instructed
227 schooled: ‘To inform or advise on a particular matter; to make privy to pertinent information; to instruct (a person) how to act in a particular situation or how to do something’ (OED).
dispraised: spoken ill of
232 For such: E.K.
sperred . . . fast: bolted securely
235-236 It was not long . . . to the dore anone: Links causally the departure of the Gate and the arrival of the Fox (Lane 1993: 111).
238-240 pedler . . . tryfles . . . belles, and babes, and glasses: ‘These words in the 1570s had become part of the distinctive language of Puritans when denouncing the ceremonies and vestments which the authorities permitted or insisted upon, but which to the puritan mind seemed popish’ (Hume 1984: 23). See also ‘knacks’ at 286. The discourse here has Puritan significance but does not mean that Spenser is himself a Puritan (Waters 1974: 9-10; see J.N. King 1990: 18-9).
trusse: bundle
glasses: mirrors
240 babes: E.K. OED cites this instance as its second example, meaning ‘doll’, and some modern editors follow suit; however, E.K.’s gloss identifies the babes as ‘Idoles’.
241 Biggen: OED identifies the word as rare, meaning, variously, ‘A child’s cap,’ ‘a metonym or symbol for infancy,’ ‘A cap, or hood, esp a night cap,’ or ‘The coif of a serjeant-at-law’. Spenser might have adopted the ‘Biggen’ as part of the Fox’s disguise because of its association with infancy, that is, as part of the trap for the Kid; this might explain the reference to ‘babes’ in the preceding line.
clout: cloth, rag
243 His hinder heele . . . wrapt in a clout: See headnote. Everywhere else in SC, the word ‘clout’ is part of the name of the author’s persona, Colin Clout. The image of the Fox wearing a cloth bandage on his hind leg recalls the ‘clouted legge’ of Thomalin’s ‘unhappy Ewe’ at Mar 50 (see note), a possible allusion to the relation between Colin and Elisa, Spenser and Elizabeth (see also Nov 99), with the clout referring to the poet’s traditional role as physician. In Maye, the clout may identify the Fox as a false Colin, or poet figure, who uses ‘Catholic’ art to deceive the Kid. Not just priests and pastors but poets abuse the English church—an inference supported by the word describing the Fox’s deceit of the Kid: ‘complaint’ (250 and note).
244 great cold: E.K.
247 Saint Charitee: E.K. A commonplace, which E.K. associates with Catholicism; cf. Hamlet 4.5.58: ‘By Gis, and by saint Charity’.
constraint: distress
lengd: longed
250 complaint: Not just a ‘lamentation’ but also ‘A plaintive poem’ (OED). This is Spenser’s first use of the word, and it will flower in the 1591 volume titled Complaints.
251 Wickets: Evidently, ‘a little door’; but a wicket is also ‘A small opening, esp. one through which to look out or communicate with the outside’ (OED).
251 clinck: E.K.
Prevelie: stealthily
254 double eyed: Because deceit is two-faced.
carefull stounds: worrisome troubles
257 stounds: E.K. Northernism.
carrion: putrefying, rotten
heavinesse: sadness
ycond: learned
262 lere: E.K. Medievalism, with a pun on ‘leer’.
lack: short
263 medled: E.K. Cf. Apr 68, Julye 209.
But: unless
265 your beastlyhead: E.K. A comical title of courtesy invented by Spenser but evoking beastliness (OED). It forms part of the sustained mock-anthropomorphism of the beast fable.
donne: dun, dark
traveile: travel; effort
brent: burned
267 brent: Medieval.
269 very sybbe: E.K.
273 to forstall: E.K.
277 nought . . . deare: ‘Nothing he thought too expensive’.
starke: extremely
trayne: tail; trickery
281 descried . . . trayne: ‘Identified by what trailed behind him’.
made . . . glee: received him welcome
282 glee: E.K.
After his chere: according to his mood; can: did
lesings: lies
knack: trick; knick-knack, trinket
save: except
291 popt: Perhaps a pun on ‘poped’, alluding to the Jesuit Mission.
doubtfull: apprehensive
hyde: hied, hurried
298 merchandise: A stock Protestant term for the ceremonial trappings of Roman Catholicism. Cf. John 2:16: ‘Take these things hence: make not my Fathers house, an house of marchandise’; and the Geneva gloss on Matthew’s version (21:12-3): ‘Under the pretence of religion hypocrites seke their owne gaine, and spoyle God of his true worship’.
299 sette to dere a prise: E.K. Cf. 1 Cor 6:20: ‘For ye are boght for a price’.
coloured: disguised
304 such end: E.K.
304 perdie . . . remayne: ‘Surely awaits all those’.
305 fayne: E.K. Archaic.
beside thy wit: mistaken
308 thy tale borrowe: In Maye, Spenser is indebted to Chaucer, and specifically in his use of the word ‘borowe’ (L.S. Johnson 1990: 78-82). The word as used here is a metaphor for literary transmission and imitation. See 131n. Yet the oddness of amiable Palinode first criticizing Piers’ tale and then asking to borrow it for Sir John (who means well but has little to say [311]), renders the literary process at once cheerful and comical.
309 our sir John: E.K. Sir John was a stock figure for an unlearned priest, but Puritans also complained about pastors of the English church as being unlearned.
can: knows
But and: however
315 dismount: E.K.
316 nye: E.K.
318 Palinodes Embleme: ‘Everyone without faith is suspicious’.
320 Piers his Embleme: ‘What faith then is in the faithless?’
redoundeth: is superflous
5 as before: Cf. Apr 155.
18 good shepherd: Cf. ‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:11, 14; Heb 13:20).
21 Eusebius: Cf. Praeparatio Evangelica 5.17.
23 Plutarch: Cf. De Defectu Oraculorum 17.
24 Lavetere: Ludwig Lavater, De Larvis, trans. Robert Harrison, Of Ghosts and Spirites Walking by Night (1572) 1.19. Eusebius and Plutarch are in Lavater.
46-47 Malim . . . miserescere: ‘I would rather have everybody envy me than feel sorry for me’. Unknown source, but cf. Erasmus, Adagia 1044B: ‘Nihil tam vulgari sermone iactatum, quam haec sententia: Praestat invidiosum esse quam miserabilem’ (Mustard, Var 7: 307). Cf. also Pindar, Pythian Odes 1.85; Herodotus, History 3.52.
48 syncope: A rhetorical figure that omits a letter or syllable of a word (also called metaplosmos).
bewraieth: reveals
smacke: trace, tinge
58 Sardanapalus: Assyrian monarch infamous for sensuality.
51 Tullie: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.35.101; but E.K. prints ‘habui’ for ‘habeo’ and ‘iacent’ for ‘manent’ used in modern texts (Mustard, Var 7: 307). According to Letters 1.42-3, the translation, in quantitative verse, is Spenser’s.
57 Erle of Devonshire: Edward de Courtenay, earl of Devonshire (c. 1357-1419). The lines were believed to come from his tomb at Tiverton. Cf. Complete Peerage 4.325-6.
69 Men of the Lay: Rather than ‘men of the faith’.
73 Chaucer: Cf. CT Shipman 1519, 1581.
93-95 May gl 93-5: countrye (of . . . denomination), brother . . . who (as] The early quartos make a hash of the text. 1581 replaces the confusing period after ‘countrye’ but misrepresents ‘denomination’ as ‘domination’; 1586, whether perplexed by the text as he found it or, less attentively, succumbing to eyeskip, dropped 13 words between the open parenthesis before ‘of’ (93) and the open parenthesis before ‘who’ (95). (We have relocated this latter parenthesis, following 1597.) The carelessness of 1586 removes all reference to Prometheus and transforms his brother, Atlas, into the great early astronomer.
May gl 96 - imagination: fiction
92-97 May gl 92-7: The sentence presents slight difficulties. E.K. explains that some believe that the myth of a giant who carries the sky on his shoulders is an excellent poetic fiction (‘imagination’) that refashions the historical fact that a king named Atlas once ruled in Mauritania and perhaps gave his name to an especially tall mountain in that region; according to the Greeks, this king had a brother named Prometheus, who was the first astronomer. E.K. takes this euhemerist interpretation of Atlas and Prometheus from Cooper, Thesaurus (1565 s.v. ‘Atlas’; see Gallagher, SpE s.v. ‘Prometheus’).
75 Deuteronomie: 10:9. The ‘tribe of Levie’ (Levi) was the priestly tribe.
denomination: name
88 The Geaunte: Cf. Boccaccio, Gen Deor 4.31; Conti, Myth 4.7.
90 Barbarie: The Muslim regions on the north coast of Africa.
94 Prometheus: Spenser’s euhemerism identifying Prometheus as the brother of Atlas and as an astronomer (cf. Endymion at Julye 57-64) is confused, and comes directly from Cooper, Thesaurus (1565 s.v. ‘Atlas’; see Gallagher, SpE s.v. ‘Prometheus’).
106 Chaucer: Cf. Complaint of Mars 52.
credit: credence, belief
109 Æsops fables: See the fable of the goat and the wolf, Fables, no. 572, in which the young goat heeds his mother’s warning and is not deceived. Also, cf. no. 157.
110 Catastrophe: Denouement, the conclusion of a tragedy.
115 felowshippe: See note in Argument.
123 πάθoς: Gr pathos, sensitive representation of suffering.
125 Hyperbaton: Change of the normal word order.
127 Andromache: Wife of the Trojan hero Hector, who compares Aeneas’ son Ascanius to her dead son Astyanax: Virgil, Aen 3.490: Sic . . . ferebat (‘Such was he [Astyanax] in eyes, in hands, and face’).
136 Hastingues: Cf. Shakespeare, Richard III 3.4.84-6, following Holinshed, Chronicles 3.381-2.
trumperies: deceits
148 Paxes: Plates showing Crucifixion images, to be kissed during Mass.
152-153 in their outward Actions, but never inwardly in fayth: For Protestants, these are the very terms of the Reformation, evoking the dispute between Catholic justification by works and Protestant justification by faith.
154 Chaucer: See CT Merchant 4.2046, 2117.
toyes: trifles
Epiphonèma: sententious summary
168-169 but . . . nynth: Reputedly influenced by his mother, Catherine de Medici, King Charles IX of France ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of French Huguenots in August 1572. Like the reference to Lord Hastings earlier, the reference here inserts political terminology into the fable.
grosenesse: stupidity
178 [Em] Theognis: Not in Theognis; the source is not known.
184-185 what hold . . . theyr religion: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 4.15.

June is the central eclogue of The Shepheardes Calender. As the first eclogue in which Colin Clout appears in dialogue with another shepherd (Hobbinol), it rehearses the topic that organizes the work: the poet’s career and his role in society. The 120 lines (the same number as October, the other eclogue on the poet’s career) evoke the ‘maximum human life span between the Fall and the Flood’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 102, citing Gen 6:3), bringing the ‘course’ of Colin’s career (33)—and specifically ‘the half-way topos of classical pastoral’ (Bernard 1981: 316)--front and center.

The dialogue itself is unusually complex, and its trajectory difficult to follow, filled not merely with ‘inconsistencies’ that baffle narrative expectations (cf. Hoffman 1977: 61-9; Berger 1988: 435-7) but with segments disjointed by apparently failed rhetorical transition. Nonetheless, the dialogue can be divided into three main parts. First, in lines 1-64 Hobbinol tempts the dejected Colin, who suffers from unrequited love over Rosalind, to abandon his high aspiration for the ‘hilles’ and ‘to the dales resort’ (19-21), while Colin rejects such a return to ‘carelesse yeeres’ because he has reached ‘ryper age’ (33-6), and Hobbinol persists, praising Colin’s youthful art for its Orphic potency to attract the dazed attention of ‘Calliope’, Muse of epic (57-64). Second, in lines 65-112 Colin refuses to ‘presume to Parnasse hyll’, preferring to ‘pype lowe in shade of lowly grove’ (70-1): he rejects ‘flying fame’ (75), praises ‘Tityrus’ for using his art to ‘slake / The flames’ of ‘love’ in his community of shepherds (85-6), and vaunts that, if he himself possessed Tityrus’ Orphic power to ‘teache the trees’ to cry (96), he would target Rosalind, who has betrayed his faith by taking up with the shepherd Menalcus. Finally, in lines 113-20 Hobbinol records that Colin’s art has affected him, and invites the disconsolate Colin ‘home’ to avoid the ‘stealing steppes’ of ‘night’ (119).

June features clear echoes of two Virgilian source-texts: Eclogue 1, which presents the dialogue between Tityrus, the poet figure who sits serenely in his pastoral landscape, and Meliboeus, the disaffected shepherd who has had his land dispossessed by the Roman authorities; and the Aeneid, which presents the hero Aeneas, lover of Queen Dido, as an exile wandering toward his epic destiny (cf. Lindheim 2005: 34). Yet in making Colin a hybrid figure of both Virgilian pastoral and epic, Spenser makes three adjustments to his precursor. First, he reverses the pastoral role that Virgil had assigned to his own poet-figure, the serene Tityrus, giving that role to Hobbinol, and making Colin the exiled Meliboeus, a poet of disaffection (cf. Bernard 1989: 57). Second, Spenser changes the rationale for the disaffection: not the politics of Roman land-displacement but the trauma of unrequited love. And third, Spenser evokes an epic role for a shepherd-poet who precisely abandons his epic destiny because of unrequited love. In particular, when Colin imagines his poetry vengefully to ‘pierce’ Rosalind’s ‘heart’ (100), Spenser may glance at Petrarch’s Rime Sparse 239 (one of Petrarch’s sestinas on poetry), where the poet imagines facendo a lei ragion ch’ a me fa forza (9 ‘bringing her [Laura] to account who overpowers me’): ’n quante note / ò riprovato umiliar quell’alma!’ (14-15 ‘in how many notes / have I attempted to humble that soul!’).

How do we interpret the poet-persona’s Petrarchan rejection of the literary forms making up the Virgilian progression that the Calender itself advertises for its author? The question is complicated, because ‘Spenser’s lines and phrases’—which tend toward positive evocations of an important national literary project—‘detach themselves from their sentences’ (Alpers 1985: 89), and this detachment helps advance the doubleness that has characterized Aprill (see headnote).

The difficulties of June thus raise important questions. First, does Colin ‘forsake the pastoral Paradise for a dedicated life’ (Hamilton 1968: 37), or does Colin ‘do . . . no such thing’ but instead simply reject Rosalind (Durr 1957: 284)? Second, does the eclogue rehearse a debate about the poet but refuse to resolve the issue (cf. Cullen 1970: 83-90; Hoffman 1977: 61), or does it critique certain features of Elizabethan society: its courtly poetry, with its commitment to delight, valuing instead the native tradition of Chaucer and Skelton, with their plain poetry of social complaint (Lane 1995: 152-8); or perhaps society’s misguided commitment to a ‘paradise principle’, in which Hobbinol’s naïve longing for paradise is as limiting as Colin’s putatively mature rejection of such escapism (Berger 1988: 432-41)? How, finally, are we to read Colin’s refusal to take Hobbinol’s advice: does Spenser use the ‘topos of inability or affected modesty’ as ‘an indirect tactic of self-assertion’ to ‘predict . . . Colin’s transformation into a poet of epic’ (Cain in Oram 1989: 107-8); or does Spenser feature the poet’s growing alienation from the society that the epic poet is meant to serve (cf. McCabe 1995: 21, 1999: 540; Nicholson 2008; Pugh 2016: 103, 105, 112, 181)?

One possibility is that June is central because it features a new Petrarchan space for the author’s Virgilian career. If looked at closely, the eclogue’s strange narrative disjunctions air a new idea for the English poet, one that is original to Spenser: that the Petrarchan erotic complaint can form a bridge between low pastoral and high epic (cf. P. Cheney 1993: 92-8). The role of love in the eclogue is indeed central. In the eclogue’s first part, Colin fails to sing songs because of Rosalind, and he refuses Hobbinol’s advice to abandon the epic hills for the pastoral dales, preferring a third space that forms a place apart. In this space (33-48, 65-80), Colin both turns away from lowly pastoral ‘pleasure’ (36) and rejects the epic presumption of ‘Parnasse hyll’ (70), choosing instead to ‘pyp[e] . . . lowe in shade of lowly grove’: ‘I play to please my selfe’ (71-2). Spenser deftly exchanges the communal Virgilian shade of the pastoral beech tree from Eclogue 1 for the consummate place of Petrarchan solitude and inward musing in the Rime Sparse (e.g., Song 129.1-3, 14-29). Accordingly, in the eclogue’s second part Colin celebrates Tityrus’ success in using erotic song to slake desire: Tityrus alone solves the Petrarchan problem. Yet the doubleness of the representation—Colin’s private failure as a love poet; Tityrus’ public success--pinpoints a structural key to SC: Colin fails to use love poetry to carry out his career as a Virgilian author of pastoral preparing for epic; but Spenser himself succeeds Chaucer in his self-defining role as a national love poet. In October, Spenser will return to this three-genre model of the English courtly poet (see headnote).

The woodcut draws attention to the centrality of the poet’s role in society, but does not make clear which figure is Colin and which Hobbinol. On the right, a figure appears shrouded in the pleasure of the locus amoenus, standing contentedly under a shade tree, beside a stream, with sheep resting peacefully and with birds flying overhead; at his feet lies a broken pipe. This last detail seems to identify the figure as Colin; however, the figure’s position in the pleasure garden corresponds to the role of Hobbinol in the eclogue proper. In the center, a second figure gestures beyond the harvesters of summer working amid their haycocks to a steep hill with a city topping it. The topos of dale and hill corresponds to a lower pastoral leisure (with a gesture to georgic labor) and a higher epic duty to the nation . In the eclogue, Hobbinol does this gesturing, but he directs Colin to turn from hill back to dale. The woodcut thus offers a counterpoint to the eclogue.

Finally, as if to accentuate the centrality of June, Spenser invents an eight-line stanza rhyming ababbaba. The second set of four lines reverses the order of the first four, creating two quatrains that mirror each other, with a heavy emphasis at the midpoint on the ‘b’ rhyme—an intriguing anticipation of the nine-line stanza of FQ (ababbcbcc). The success of such a ‘difficult’ rhyme may be debatable (Var 7: 308, 310), but long ago Thomas Warton called June ‘one of the most poetical and elegant of the Pastorals’ (Var 7: 308). Indeed, its virtuoso effect competes with one of the high-water marks of SC, Colin’s August sestina (Brooks-Davies 1995: 102). Through heightened verse accomplishment, June accrues significance, not because it clarifies a new idea of an English literary career, but because it troubles it.

1 wholly vowed to . . . Colins ill successe: E.K. neglects the terms of the dialogue between Colin and Hobbinol regarding the proper ‘place’ (1) of the poet in the world. Alternatively, E.K. identifies the ‘whole Argument’ to be only about Colin’s ‘complayning’ of Rosalind.
vowed: devoted
3 found place in her heart: Only here does SC record Rosalind’s favoring of Colin.
5 steede: stead
5 Menalcas: E.K. and note.
1-16 Lo Collin . . . pate: Indebted to Virgil, Ecl 1.1-58 (see headnote).
1-8 Lo Collin . . . attemper right: The terms of Hobbinol’s description of the ‘pleasaunt syte’ evoke the conventional pastoral garden as locus poeticus, or ‘place’ of poetry--e.g., Virgil, Ecl 51-8 (Pugh 2016: 94-5): ‘nature is really a synonym for art’ (Berger 1988: 325; see 408). Hence, the wind is ‘warbling’, and the birds, a traditional symbol of the poet, temper their ‘tunes’ to the waterfall, just as Colin does at Apr 35-6 (see note). The word ‘dight’, a favorite of Spenser’s, can mean ‘adorn’ but also ‘compose’ (see Apr 29), while ‘attemper’ means ‘To attune, bring into harmony’ (OED). ‘Delyte’ is a key word in English Renaissance literary criticism for one of the Horatian goals of poetry; it recurs at 29, 35, 40, 51 (see ‘pleasures’ at 32, 36). Even the ‘Bramble bush’ is Colin’s tree (the rose briar, associated with Rosalind; see Dec 2); at Feb 123, Colin’s bird, the nightingale (see esp. Aug 183-6), sits in the briar.
1 syte: E.K.
2 wandring: Perhaps a hint of error (A. Fletcher 1971: 28).
what wants me: what do I lack
5 So calme . . . fynde: Cf. Herbert, “Virtue” 1: ‘Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright’.
6 The grassye . . . dight: Cf. Ovid, Fasti 4.138: nunc alii flores, nunc nova danda rosa est (‘now give her other flowers, now give her the fresh-blown rose’).
7-8 where Byrds . . . right: Cf. Apr 36; imitated by Browne, Britannia’s Pastorals 1.3.377-90.
attemper: bring into harmony
10-9 O happy Hobbinoll . . . Adam lost: Colin praises Hobbinol, but the lines evoke the blasphemy of a lowly shepherd finding what the father of mankind has lost.
10 That . . . lost: E.K. Cf. Gen 3:23.
11-12 Here wander . . . bene ytost: The details subtly underwrite the sense of blasphemy: the sheep ‘wander’ (see 2); they do not ‘dreade’ wolves; and Hobbinol may ‘boste’ of his own songs.
ytost: disturbed; agitated
14-16 But I . . . pate: A double allusion, not only to Virgil, Ecl 1 but also to Aen 1.1-4, perhaps (rather playfully) evoking the pastoral shepherd with an epic destiny. Cf. Letters 4.119-236, ‘Ad Omatissimum Virum,’ for a similar epic voyaging metaphor of authorial discontent.
16 June 16: shroude: [JL1] Baffled or incurious, the compositors or editors of the early quartos allow the nonsense reading of 1579 to stand; we adopt the correction of 1611. Cf. June 54; Julye 3.
list: choose
18 Forsake the soyle: E.K.
19-21 hilles . . . dales: This is the moral and ecclesiastical landscape that will appear in Julye, here accommodated to the path of the poet’s career. The woodcut suggests a movement along the Virgilian path from lowly pastoral to the height of epic; but it is unclear which figure makes the gesture (see headnote). E.K. associates the hills with the ‘Northparts’ [18], suggesting that Spenser presents Colin as ‘a northerner, an outsider attempting to gain entry to the south [the dales, representing the London court], but the key to that entry is his northern language’ (Blank 1992: 38-9).
me: for me
harbrough: both harbor and arbor
19 me: An ethical dative.
19 those hilles: E.K.
19 nis: E.K.
20 winding witche: The wych elm with pliant branches.
21 the dales: E.K.
23 night Ravens: E.K. Proverbial for boding disaster. The raven also has vocational associations; see Dec 32.
elvish: supernatural; mischievous
gastly: causing terror
flee: fly
24 owles: For Spenser, always a bird of ill-omen. Cf. Theatre, sonnet 6.13; Dec 72; FQ I.ix.33.6; Time 130; Epith 345.
25-32 But friendly Faeries . . . in these places: As the references here to figures and places of poetry indicate, the lines form an elaborate trope for a pastoral of pleasure. E.K.’s gloss at 27 invites a symbolic interpretation.
25-27 But frendly . . . traces: Cf. Horace, Odes 1.4.5-7: iam Cytherea choros ducit Venus imminente Luna, / iunctaeque Nymphis Gratiae decentes / alterno terram quatiunt pede (‘Now Cytherean Venus leads the dancers as the moon hangs overhead, and the lovely Graces, hand in hand with the Nymphs, beat the ground with one foot after the other’).
25 frendly Faeries: E.K.
25 Graces: E.K. Cf. Apr 109 and note.
27 Heydeguyes: E.K. Cf. Drayton, Polyolbion, Song 5, arg.3-5: ‘And whilst the nimble Cambrian Rills, / Daunce Hy-day-gies amongst the Hills, / The Muse them to Carmarden brings’.
27 trimly trodden traces: ‘Lightly measured dance steps’.
28 systers nyne: Nine Muses.
28 Parnasse: Mount Parnassus. Cf. Apr 41, Julye 45-8.
30 Pan: Cf. Jan 17 and note, as well as Apr 51, Maye 54, Dec 7.
carelesse: carefree
34 lincks: chains
35 peeres: E.K.
38 stayed steps: Can mean either that Colin’s steps are ‘supported’ or ‘encumbered’, moving forward or impeded, thereby evoking ‘the shuffling feet of a man at a crossroads’, divided between ‘ambition and reminiscence’, ‘pastoral anonymity and epic fame’ (Bouchard 1993: 202). The apparent period after ‘[ſt]eps’ in 1579 may be a damaged or poorly-inked comma, the punctuation that we adopt. 1581 drops the punctuation; characteristically helpful, 1611 provides a colon.
wexen: become, increase
39 wexen old above: ‘Become frayed on the surface’.
couth: could
43 Queene apples: E.K. An old variety of early apple, notable for both its size and redness; or perhaps the quince, associated with Venus: ‘Spenser follows tradition in frequently associating apples with temptation and love’ (SpE s.v. ‘apples’ 48).
Dight: make
gaudy: fine, gay
comen: common, habitual
rype: mature
48 toyes: Games of love; also a disparaging term for poetry (cf. Teares 194, 325). Cf. Cor 13:11: ‘when I became a man, I put away childish things’.
49-51 Colin, to heare . . . Sommer dayes: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 5.45-7: Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta, / quale sopor fessis in gramine, quale per aestum / dulcis aquae saliente sitim restinguere rivo (‘Your lay, heavenly bard, is to me even as sleep on the grass to the weary, as in summer heat the slaking of thirst in a dancing rill of sweet water’); Marot, Complainct de Madame Loyse 17-20: Berger Thenot, Ie suis esmerueillè / De tes chansons, & plus fort ie m’y baigne / Qu’ à escouter le Linot esueillè / Ou l’eau qui bruit tombant d’une montaigne (‘Shepherd Thenot, I am in awe / Of your songs, and I immerse myself more deeply in them / Than in listening to the waking Linnet, / Or to the crashing of water as it falls from the mountain top'; trans. Meyers).
49 roundelayes: Cf. Apr [33] and note.
wastfull: desolate
51 larke in Sommer dayes: Spenser uses the lark several times in his poetry (e.g, Nov 71; see also E.K.’s gloss on Apr 118-9). While the lark was often a symbol of Christian transcendence (because it ascends while it sings; see Shakespeare, Sonnet 29.11-2), Spenser always associates the bird with either a carefree state of innocence in the natural world or the folly of such a state; in most instances, the latter colors the former (see P. Cheney 1993: 269n11).
52 Echo . . . ring: E.K. The line suggests the merging of nature and art, as the landscape joins in the poet’s song. Cf. Virgil, Ecl 1.4-5: tu, Tityre, lentus in umbra / formosam resonare doces Amaryllida silvas (‘you, Tityrus, at ease beneath the shade, teach the woods to re-echo “fair Amaryllis”’).
53-64 And taught . . . art outgoe: Suggests Colin’s Orphic powers.
53 spring: E.K.
Frame to: fashion according to
55 cheriping: ‘An onomatopoeic extension of chirp (which had been known since the 1440s) and a Spenserian neologism, this is OED’s only instance until 1774’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 105).
57-64 I . . . outgoe: Cf. Dec 43-8.
57-61 I . . . silver sound: Imitates Ovid, Fasti 6.13-4: te quoque Pierios fama est potasse liquores / et vidisse deas quibus est custodia sacri / fontis (‘They say that you have even drunk of Pierian waters and have seen those goddesses who watch over that sacred fount’).
57 Calliope: E.K. Muse of heroic poetry. Cf. Apr 100 and note.
59 Luyts . . . Tamburins: E.K. Lutes and tabors (small drums), denoting lyric and heroic poetry, respectively. Cf. Jonson, Sad Shepherd 1.3.76; Drayton, Shepheard’s Garland, Eclogue 4.114-17.
60 the fountaine, where they sat around: The scene at the fountain recurs throughout Spenser (e.g., Gnat 238). In the background is often Ovid’s myth of Narcissus and Echo (Met 3.359-401), glanced at in the word ‘Echo’ at 52.
61 silver sound: The phrase recurs at Aug 181 (see note). Spenser was especially attracted to the word ‘silver’, and often uses it as an adjective modifying a noun beginning with the letter ‘s’ (e.g., ‘silver song’ at Apr 46; see note). Evidently, he did not invent the phrase ‘silver sound’, for it appears in Richard Edwards’ Song, printed in The Paradise of dainty Devises (1576), quoted six times in a single dialogue from Romeo and Juliet for comical, dramatic purposes (4.5.128-42): ‘There Musick with her silver sound’ (line 3 of Edwards’ Song). See also Timothy Kendall, ‘A Lute of Fir Tree’ 3, in Flowers of Epigrammes (1577). The phrase has a remarkable afterlife in English literature (Var 7: 318)--from John Lyly and Sir John Davies to John Dryden and Alexander Pope--much of it retaining the aesthetic vocabulary that Spenser turns into a signature. See, e.g., Davies, Orchestra, st. 107: ‘And when your Ivory fingers touch the strings / Of any silver sounding instrument, / Love makes them daunce’. Examples in Richard Barnfield (The prayse of Lady Pecunia [1598] 235-40) and William Browne (Britannia’s Pastorals [1613] 1.5.315-60), two well-known ‘Spenserian’ poets, suggest a Spenserian provenance.
62-64 But when . . . art outgoe: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 4.55-7.
outgoe: surpass
65-75 I conne no skill . . . flying fame: Colin’s refusal to climb Parnassus makes best sense in terms of the classical recusatio (cf. Cameron 1995: 454-83), the refusal to write in a higher genre like epic. The source-text here is Virgil, Ecl 6.1-10, in which Tityrus refuses to write epic; but see also Horace, Odes 4.15.1-4; Ovid, Amores 3.1; Propertius, Elegies 3.3.1-26; Tibullus, Elegies 2.4.13-20. For a pre-Spenserian pastoral version, see Sannazaro, Arcadia, chpt. 7, pp 74-5 and chpt. 10, pp 104-5. The recusatio traces to Callimachus, Aetia (i.fr.I.21-4).
conne no skill: know nothing
66 daughters . . . Jove: See note on E.K.’s gloss on Apr 41.
67 quill: Both a musical pipe and a pen.
68-69 For sith . . . drove: For the story of the singing contest between Pan and Apollo, see Ovid, Met 11.146-77. For the importance of the story in SC, see Apr 73-81n. Cf. Virgil, Ecl 4.58-9: Pan etiam, Arcadia mecum si iudice certet, / Pan etiam Arcadia dicat se iudice victum (‘Even were Pan to compete with me and Arcady be judge, then even Pan, with Arcady for judge, would own himself defeated’). Among English poets, Wyatt had featured the myth in ‘Mine own John Poins’ 48-9 as part of his own~~,~~ poetics (P. Cheney 2011: 131-2).
68 For sith . . . stroue: E.K.
71 pyping lowe in shade of lowly grove: ‘Piping low and in the shade may indeed be the (hidden) master trope of The Shepheardes Calender’ (Rambuss 1993: 15).
73 prayse or blame: The two goals of epideictic rhetoric and poetry.
passe: surpass
sittes not, followe: ‘Is not proper to pursue’.
75 flying fame: Cf. Virgil, Aen 4.173-7, 7.104, 11.139. The trope evokes the myth of Pegasus, as E.K.’s gloss on Apr 42 makes clear: ‘Pegasus the winged horse of Perseus (whereby is meant fame and flying renowme)’.
76 falls hem best: ‘Is best for them to be’.
me: for me
paint out: depict vividly
79 paint out: Cf. Horace, Ars Poetica 361-5.
poore: pour
80 poore: Perhaps a half-pun on poor.
81-96 The God of shepheards Tityrus . . . teares to shedde: For Tityrus, see Feb 92 and note, as well as Oct 55, Dec 4, Epilogue 9. Here Spenser uses the persona of Virgil in the Eclogues to represent Chaucer, and to see Chaucer as a native pastoral poet of love, a foil to Colin: unlike Spenser’s persona, Chaucer/Tityrus used his song to achieve catharsis, to serve the public good, and to acquire fame.
81 Tityrus: E.K.
make: compose
82 make: Spenser recurrently presents Tityrus/Chaucer as a maker, not a vates or prophet.
love ytake: taken by love
84 love ytake: Chaucer did not simply write numerous tales of love (including the Marriage Group in The Canterbury Tales but also Troilus and Criseyde and The Romaunt of the Rose); he presents himself primarily as a love poet (e.g., HF 615-8, 633-44; see R.R. Edwards 1989: 94).
couth: knew how to
87 mery tales: Evokes Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, mentioned by E.K. in his gloss. Cf. Lydgate, Fall of Princes, Prologue (1.246-7): ‘My maistir Chaucer, with his fresh comedies, / Is ded, allas’.
89 wrapt in lead: repeated at Oct 63, Nov 59.
90 O why: E.K.
passing: surpassing; short-lived
93-94 But if...hedde: Anticipates FQ IV.ii.32.8: ‘Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled’.
learne: teach
96 trees . . . shedde: Cf. Ovid, Met 10.106-44, the story of Orpheus using his song to move trees.
97 discurtesee: E.K.
100 And pierce her heart: See the headnote for a Petrarchan intertext (RS 239.9, 14-5).
100 poynt . . . wight: E.K.
102 Menalcas: E.K.
103 underfong: E.K. Cf. Nov 22.
woxe: become
fere: mate (suggesting wife)
117-120 But now . . . trace: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 10.75-7: surgamus: solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra, / iuniperi gravis; nocent et frugibus umbrae. / ite domum saturate, venit Hesperus, ite capellae (‘Let us arise. The shade is oft perilous to the singer—perilous the juniper’s shade, hurtful the shade even to the crops. Get home, my full-fed goats, get home—the Evening Star draws on’).
118 ye blessed flocks: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 1.74: ite meae, felix quondam pecus, ite capellae (‘Away, my goats! Away, once happy flock!).
forsloe: hinder
119 with stealing steppes: Cf. Thomas, Lord Vaux, ‘The Aged Lover Renounceth Love’: ‘For Age with stealing steps’ (9). The phrase turns out to have a healthy afterlife in English literature because the gravedigger in Hamlet famously rehearses Vaux’s line when singing part of his graveyard song (5.1.71).
trace: follow
122 Gia speme spenta: ‘Hope utterly extinguished’. E.K. Cf. Colin’s Jan Emblem: ‘Anchôra speme’ (still hope).
2 Paradise: Gr παράδεισος (paradeisos), ‘enclosure, orchard, pleasure garden’. Cf. the note to the map at Genesis 3 in the Geneva Bible: ‘In this countrey and moste plentiful land Adam dwelt, and this was called Paradise: that is, a garden of pleasure, because of the frutefulness and abundance thereof’.
7 Diodorus Syculus: Library of History 17.53.
9 two famous Ryvers: See Gen 2:10-14, where Tigris is called Hiddekel.
10 It so denominate: Mesopotamia (Gr μεσοποταμία, ‘place amid rivers’) takes its name.
13-14 for . . . preferment: ‘To get himself a better position’.
20 Kantsh: E.K.’s source, William Lambarde’s Perambulation of Kent (1576), says the word is not Saxon but British (i.e., Celtic).
religiously: persistently, faithfully; shavelings: tonsured monks; packed pelfe: bundled-up wealth or booty; distraicte: divided; frowarde: perverse
30 nousell: Foster; ‘nurture (a person) in a particular opinion, habit, custom, etc.’ (OED).
33 Massepenie: Monetary offering made at Mass.
34-35 Guelfes . . . Gibelins: A fanciful, mock-scholarly derivation for elf and goblin.
43 Thalbot: Sir John Talbot, first earl of Shrewsbury, a hero in the Hundred Years’ War, (later made famous by Shakespeare in 1 Henry 6).
50 Musaeus: de Herone et Leandra 63-5.
52-53 Pageaunts...&c: The only reference to this lost work.
59 Ipse . . . mala: ‘My own hands will gather quinces, pale with tender down’ (Virgil, Ecl 2.51).
staffe: line, stanza
65 Clarion: high-pitched trumpet
partiall affection: favoritism
74 Tullie: Cicero, Post Reditum in Senatu 4.8: P. Lentulus, parens ac deus nostrae vitae (‘Publius Lentulus, parent and guardian deity of my life’).
80 wite: Archaic, Northern/Scots.
81 Virgile: Menalcas appears in Ecl 3 and 5.

With June, Julye occupies a central position in the structure of the Calender, and thus the two eclogues share the topos of hill and dale: the two speakers of a debate between high and low, Morrell and Thomalin, enact the two sides of ‘Colin’s divided mind’ (Snyder 1998: 37), ‘aspiration versus retirement’ (Berger 1988: 305).

As the second of three ecclesiastical eclogues (with Maye and September), Julye specifically stages a debate on important matters of church politics. In the woodcut, the goatherd Morrell sits on a hill, with his goats scattered along its slopes, while Thomalin stands below, his sheep ordered obediently. Since the woodcut depicts Morrell as tonsured, it is natural to take E.K.’s cue in the Argument to identify the shepherd as a ‘Catholique . . . Pastour’, and thereby to identify Thomalin as ‘protestant’. In these terms, the dialogue appears as a simple Protestant condemnation of Catholic aspiration for worldly ambition in church hierarchy, and, correspondingly, a defense of the lowly life of inner Protestant faith. Yet E.K. in his Argument is perhaps more accurate when he says that the eclogue honors ‘good shepeheardes’ and dishonors ‘proud and ambitious Pastours’, which evokes a debate within the English church itself and active at Cambridge in the 1570s.

The shepherds’ dialogue divides into three parts (Cullen 1970: 56). In lines 1-56, Thomalin and Morrell debate the merits of low and high; in lines 57-124, they delineate particular hills and dales with historical and mythological significance; and in lines 125-232 they discuss the fate of the shepherd Algrind, who has been knocked off his hill by a female eagle who has accidentally dropped a shellfish on his head.

The underlying biblical text is Isaiah 40:4: ‘Everie valleie shalbe exalted, and everie mountaine and hill shalbe made low’. Yet the key pastoral source-text is Mantuan’s eighth eclogue, which introduces the locale of hill and dale in a debate about the value of each. Spenser imitates Mantuan’s landscape but emphasizes its symbolic associations, and he transposes the debate to Reformation England (Renwick, Var 7: 325).

Hence, Spenser adopts a verse-form associated with Protestantism, a divided ‘fourteener’: a single line of fourteen beats breaks into a second line after the eighth beat, but thus features a longer line followed by a shorter one, which George Turbervile had used in his 1567 translation of Mantuan (Cain in Oram 1989: 120). On the surface, Julye may seem ‘impossible’ to ‘consider felicitous’ (Palgrave, Var 7: 323)—‘in a literary sense the less distinguished of the Eclogues’ (Herford, Var 7: 323)—yet the jaunty rhythm of the alternating lines lends the eclogue a sense of playfulness, one that comes across in another way in the shellfish allegory, despite the seriousness of its ecclesiastical politics.

Indeed, Julye handles the historical milieu of the debate deftly, making it difficult to determine just what Spenser does with ‘perspective’ (Anderson 1970). Does he ‘dramatiz[e] . . . a conflict of pastoral perspectives, neither of which is without merit’ (Cullen 1970: 61); or does he rely on ‘disguise’ as a device of ‘self-protection’ (J.N. King 1990: 41-2), thereby aligning himself with a particular social, political, and ecclesiastical faction, or perhaps simply to air controversial events (Norbrook 2002: 54, 62-3; Hume 1984: 28-33)?

The most obvious event is the notorious fall of ‘Algrind’, representing Archbishop Grindal, who fell from the queen’s favor in 1577 for refusing to suppress the so-called ‘prophesyings’, private gatherings of clergy who interpreted Scripture outside the boundaries of prescribed homilies and sermonizing (Hadfield 2012: 136-8). At stake here, then, is whether Spenser is an ‘Anglican’ (Whitaker 1950; Wall 1988), a ‘Puritan’ (Hume 1984), or simply a ‘progressive Protestant’ (J.N. King 2006: 71, 1990: 233-8; cf. Norbrook 2002: 55). In any case, Spenser displays shrewdness in characterizing both Morrell and Thomalin with sympathy and insight, representing a complex meditation on the nature of religious identity: ‘If Thomalin locates the dark side of aspiration in Morrell’s pride, Morrell in turn points to the negative, withdrawing side of Thomalin’s humility’ (Snyder 1998: 39).

The ecclesiastical debate also extends to social and political issues of hierarchy and class, including questions over labor: between upper-class idleness and lower-class work (Lane 1993: 114-31), featured in the background of the woodcut, where summertime harvesters contrast with Morrell sitting on his hill and with Thomalin standing by.

Yet Julye is finally ‘central’ because it relates church and state to poetry, as intimated by the implied comparison with Colin Clout from June, as suggested by Morrell’s reference to the ‘Muses’ dwelling on Mount Parnassus (45-8), and as documented by the two other classical myths emerging in the dialogue, both identified as taking place on Mt Ida (but see note on [59]): Endymion and Phoebe (57-64) and Paris and Helen (145-52; see Stewart 1988). In fact, the eclogue presents here not merely a model of the familiar Renaissance humanist project of relating classical to biblical, but a sophisticated fiction about the merits and dangers of doing so: Thomalin ‘objects to the indiscriminate conflation of biblical and classical imagery which informs Morrell’s argument. For him, Mount Olivet [sacred to Christ and his teaching] and Mount Ida are distinct. . . . As in Maye, the two speakers inhabit conflicting imaginative, as well as moral, worlds. Accordingly, they read the pastoral landscape differently. From Thomalin’s viewpoint, Morrell appropriates the spiritual significance of mountains in support of social climbing. From Morrell’s viewpoint, Thomalin distorts the traditional symbolism of valleys in order to denigrate legitimate social eminence’ (McCabe 1999: 544).

Spenser’s evocation of his own poetic art during a debate having more overt ecclesiastical and social resonance may also work doubly: he subtly underscores Elizabethan courtly poetry’s implication in England’s political difficulties of the 1570s, represented especially by the myth of Paris and Helen (the origin of the Trojan War) but perhaps also by the myth of the sleeping Endymion (the lover of an Elizabeth-like virginal moon goddess, Cynthia), whose ‘cave’ becomes the source of an Adamic ‘fall’ (63-7); and, simultaneously, Spenser gestures to his own poetry in helping to solve such difficulties, as the specific artistic locale of Colin Clout throughout SC suddenly comes into view (see Apr 35-6 and note): ‘And they that con of Muses skill, / sayne most what, that they dwell / (As goteherds wont) upon a hill, / beside a learned well’ (45-8).

2 Pastours: A key trope of SC, referring to both literary pastoral shepherds and Protestant church ministers (OED). Spenser uses the word only at As 9, when referring to Philip Sidney.
3 imagined: The word can mean ‘thought’ but also ‘represented’; it is E.K.’s word for the symbolic and artistic significance of the pastoral narrative.
1.0 THOMALIN: Perhaps representing Thomas Cooper, Bishop of Lincoln, a supporter of Archbishop Grindal (McLane 1961: 203-15; J.N. King 1990: 35; Hadfield 2012: 472n126).
1.0 MORRELL: An anagram for John Aylmer, Bishop of London, whose name could be spelled Elmer or Elmore, and who was notable for his suppression of Puritanism (McLane 1961: 188-202; J.N. King 1990: 42; Hadfield 2012: 472n126).
1 a goteheard: E.K.
2 bancke: Not merely ‘A raised shelf or ridge of ground’ but also ‘A high ground, height, hill’ (OED).
shrowde: shelter
3 straying heard: E.K.
3 shrowde: Cf. June 16.
rancke: haughty; luxuriant
4 rancke: A pun on ‘row’ or ‘a series of things in a straight line’, as in E.K’s ‘three formes or ranckes’ of eclogues (plaintive, recreative, moral) in the General Argument, and in evidence in the woodcut, where Morrell’s goats have broken rank, in contrast to Thomalin’s sheep.
5-8 What ho . . . and thee: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 8.1-3, where Candidus identifies a seasonal reason for his invitation to Alphus to go to the hills (a reason Spenser neglects, perhaps because he wishes to feature less a climate change and more a biblical and Reformation meaning): Horrida solstitio tellus sitit, Alphe, reverso; / ad solitos montes, ubi ros in gramine et aestas / mitior, haec armenta monet deducere tempus (‘Summer’s solstice having returned, Alphus, the rugged earth is parched by drought. The season counsels us to drive our herds as usual to the mountains where the dew is on the grass and the summer is more gentle’).
swayne: servant, laborer
5 shepheards swayne: Previously applied only to Immerito in ‘To His Booke’ (9) and Colin Clout in Apr (98).
8 als: E.K.
12-9 clime . . . fall unsoft: The terms of medieval and sixteenth-century de casibus tragedy, which features an unfortunate fall from a high place (J.N. King 1990: 32).
shield: forbid
9 clime: E.K.
10 looke alofte: Cf. Maye 124.
11 reede is ryfe: Proverbial, meaning ‘the saying is prevalent’.
12 great clymbers: E.K.
14 the trode . . . tickle: ‘The path is not so treacherous’.
16 mickle: E.K.
17 the Sonne: E.K.
18 fyriefooted: Cf. Romeo and Juliet 3.2.1: ‘Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds’.
19-20 Cuppe . . . Diademe: E.K.
21 Lyon: E.K.
21 rampant Lyon: This is the lion’s traditional posture on Elizabethan coats of arms—‘standing on the sinister hind foot with the forepaws in the air, the sinister above the dexter’ (OED)—especially Queen Elizabeth’s (Lane 1995: 116 and illustration on 118). OED cites Julye under ‘rampant’, meaning of ‘a fierce disposition’.
pyne: distress
coverture: refuge
lust: wish
29 to holden chat: E.K.
seely: simple, innocent
28 overture: E.K.
31 what: E.g., information.
33-40 Syker, thous . . . name: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 8.8-16: O rude et illepidum ingenium . . . irridere audes, et nauci pendere montes. / unde fluunt amnes? templis ubi tanta locandis / marmora caeduntur? fulgens ubi nascitur aurum? / quae parit antemnas tellus? medicamen ab herbis, / dic, quibus est montanis? (‘Oh, rude and barbarous soul . . . you dare to ridicule the mountains and esteem them a trifle. Whence flow the rivers? Where is so much marble quarried to found our churches? Where is glittering gold begotten? What earth produces yardarms for your boats? From whose herbs but the mountains’ come our medicines?’). Spenser's Morrell offers none of these reasons, which make a better case for the mountains than his self-consciously learned emphasis on saints' names.
33-34 laesie loord . . . swinck: ‘Morrell, in stigmatizing “swinck,” reveals his affiliations with an elite who in fact deserve the opprobrious epithet laesie’ (Lane 1995: 119).
thous: thou art (you are)
loord: lout
33 loord: E.K. The word has class associations.
34 rekes . . . swinck: E.K.
fond: foolish
35 fond termes, and weetlesse words: Makes plain that not just church politics but specifically language and rhetoric are at stake in the debate (Montrose 1979: 38).
35 weetlesse: E.K.
36 blere . . . eyes: ‘Blur my eyes’, i.e., ‘hoodwink or deceive me’. Cf. Chaucer, Rom 3911-2: ‘Leccherie hath clombe so hye; / That almoost blered is myn ye’.
hentest: take
37 hentest: Cf. Feb 195.
41-42 S. Michels . . . coste: E.K.
trow: believe
43 S. Brigets bowre: Unidentified; presumably, the bower was on top a mountain. St. Brigid was a patroness of Ireland who built her cell under a tall oak tree; the next line may mean that Morrell tropes Kentish oaks.
45-73 Muses skill . . . Of Synah: The inventory of famous mountains—Parnassus, Olivet, Sinai, ‘three . . . sacred mountains essential to Spenserian myth’ (Fletcher 1971: 15)—will reappear at FQ I.x.53-4 as a series of comparisons for the Mount of Contemplation. The inventory evokes the three conventional dispensations of nature, law, and grace (Kaske 1975: 147; Bergvall 1997: 30); but it also links the poet with Christ and Moses. Such a biblical elevation of the poet forms the center of Spenser’s claims for himself and for his prophetic vocation throughout his poetic career (see, e.g., Aug 31-6 and note; for the link between ‘the political role of the [biblical] prophet’ and the Grindal ‘prophesyings’, see A. Fletcher 1971: 71).
con . . . skill: have knowledge
sayne most what: mostly say
49-51 And wonned . . . of Dan: Refers to Christ teaching, as in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7).
wonned: dwelled
49 wonned: Cf. Feb 119.
49 Pan: E.K.
50 Olivet: Cf. Matt 21:1, 24:3, 26:30.
51 Feeding . . . Dan: E.K. Cf. Num 1:38-39, Ezek 34:14-15. Dan is one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
52 which . . . beget: Can mean both that Christ begot the Tribe of Dan and that the Tribe of Dan begot him.
53-56 O blessed sheepe . . . Wolves, that would them teare: A version of poetic typology linked with Aug 31-6, the second scene on Willye’s mazer, which depicts a shepherd saving his sheep from wolves, linking the poet with Christ.
55 bloudy sweat: During the Agony of the Passion in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s ‘sweate was like droppes of blood, trickling down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44).
56 Wolves: For Christ as the Good Shepherd, see John 10:11-4.
57-64 Besyde, as . . . long to dreame: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 8.45-9, which refers only to Mount Baldus. E.K. has glosses at 59, 63, and 64, identifying the ‘holy father’ as Diodorus Siculous, the sleeping ‘shepheard’ as Endymion, and the ‘place of delight’ as Paradise (and the ‘one [who] did fall’ as Adam). See notes below. Endymion is a figure for both immortality and unconsciousness (Snyder 1998: 38); Natalis Conti, Myth 4.9, tells the story of Endymion, as does Boccaccio, Gen Deor 4.16; Neoplatonists see the myth allegorizing an initiation into the mystery of love through death (Wind 1967: 154); Endymion is also a figure in both pastoral (Theocritus, Idylls 20.37-9) and erotic poetry (Ovid, Heroides 18.61-5, Tristia 2.299). For the myth’s later association with Elizabeth and her court, see Lyly, Endimion (1591); Drayton, Endimion and Phoebe (1598).
spill: destroy, ruin
sithens: subsequently; foresayd: forbidden, prohibited
71 For . . . weene: ‘For this reason I believe’.
73 Of Synah . . . more: E.K.
74 our Ladyes bowre: E.K. According to a contemporary Catholic legend, angels transported the house of the Virgin Mary to Loretto in Italy, mentioned by Mantuan, Eclogues 8.52; this narrative becomes a source of Protestant skepticism regarding religious miracles (Brooks-Davies 1995: 124).
75 strow my store: ‘Display my stock of examples’. Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 8.56-7: cetera praetereo, nec enim sermonibus istis / omnia complecti statuo (‘Others I omit, for it is not my intent to include every peak’).
77-78 Faunes . . . Sylvanes: E.K.
resourse: resort (or recourse); renewal
haunten rathe: promptly resort
79-84 Here has . . . be meynt: E.K. Cf. Letters 1.56-6,1, where Spenser mentions his now lost work ‘Epithalamion Thamesis . . . setting forth the marriage of the Thames . . . and . . . all the Rivers throughout Englande, whyche came to this Wedding’.
84 meynt: E.K.
85-86 Melampode . . . Teribinth: E.K.
Melampode: black hellebore
Teribinth: turpentine tree
madding: frenzied.
87 madding: Cf. Apr 25 and note.
89 nigher heven: E.K.
ethe: easy
91 levin: E.K.
93 lorrell: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, Bo, Prosa 4, line 308; CT Wife 273.
95 borrell: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, CT Franklin 716.
97 To Kerke . . . farre: Proverbial.
97 narre: E.K.
old sayd sawe: ancient proverb
100-99 And he . . . a strawe: Cf. Virgil, Aen 3.423: sidera verberat unda (‘lashing the stars with spray’); Aen 3.574: sidera lambet (‘[Aetna] licks the stars’). Cf. also Colin Clout’s ‘famous flight’ at Oct 88-90.
Alsoone: as soon
105-112 My seely . . . be glutted: For the separation of sheep and goats at the Day of Judgment, see Matt 25:32-3 and E.K.’s gloss at 1 and note.
107 hale: E.K.
109 yede: E.K.
Or: either
111 frowie: E.K.
113 holy saints: See Maye 15n. Cf. Nov 175-6.
116 han . . . yore: ‘Have died of old’.
117 forewent: E.K.
goe: gone
sample: example
120 als we mought: ‘We might also’.
222 July 222: an] To explain the miscorrection in 1581 we may suppose that the compositor misconstrued his copy text, a copy of 1579 marked for correction; 1586 repairs the error and makes what we take to have been the adjustment of ‘An’ to ‘an’ intended in 1581.
124 why . . . disease?: ‘Why do we disturb or trouble them?’
125-168 Thomalin offers an inventory of shepherds, contrasting Paris with the biblical figures of Abel, the sons of Jacob, and Moses and Aaron. Thomalin, then, is a scriptural purist in the tradition of Augustine and Calvin, rejecting classicism, in contrast to Morrell, who is a Renaissance syncretist, fusing classical with Christian, offering two models relating the Christian present to the classical past. At 154, Spenser, himself a known syncretist, subtly complicates Thomalin’s model by having the shepherd refer favorably to Argus.
125-140 Such one . . . kynd: E.K. identifies Abel as the ‘first shepheard’, mentioned by Mantuan, Eclogues 7.14-22. See Gen 4.
126 Algrind: Cf. 157, 213-32. Algrind is first mentioned at Maye 75, suggesting that in the ecclesiastical eclogues ‘the authority deferred to is no longer either the Romish Tityrus or the English one, but the figure of Algrind’: ‘by keying his anticlerical eclogues . . . to a local confrontation between Elizabeth and her senior bishop, Spenser provided a contemporary and national equivalent to both the pre-Reformation critiques of the Roman church by Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Mantuan and the early embattled Protestantism of Marot’ (Patterson 1987: 126).
eche degree: every respect
133 hys keepe: E.K.
137 lowted: E.K.
141-144 the brethren were . . . mighty Pan: See Gen 46. Whereas Morrell ‘privilege[s] one group, Thomalin emphasizes the collaborative character of community under God’ (Lane 1993: 126).
yfere: together
141 the brethren: E.K.
145-152 But nothing . . . ill agree: E.K. Cf. Aug 137-8.
to: too
overlayd: overwhelmed, overpowered
tway: two
154 Argus: E.K. Cf. Sept 203; Oct 31-2.
156 steede of brasse: Cf. Chaucer, CT Squire 115-31.
157-164 Sike one . . . I hote: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 7.29-31: quando caelesti exterritus igne / venit ad ostentum pedibus per pascua nudis, / pastor erat Moses, Moses a flumine tractus (‘When Moses, terrified by the fire from heaven, came barefooted through the fields to reveal this miracle, Moses, plucked once from the river, was a shepherd’).
158-159 sawe . . . face: Cf. Exod 33:11: ‘And the Lord spake unto Moses, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend’.
159 His face: Either God’s or Moses’ face. Cf. Exod 34:35: ‘the skin of Moses’ face shone bright’.
place: presence
160 in place: Cf. Apr 131.
161 his name: E.K.
162 cote: ‘House’, but also punning on ‘coat’, the sign of Aaron’s clerical profession, since he was the founder of the priesthood, the original ‘man of the cloth’.
163 not so true: E.K.
164 that . . . hote: ‘That I mentioned (or named) earlier’.
lowe: humble
lief: willing, amenable
amend: amended
nighly wore: sparingly worn
shend: shame
173-177 purple and pall . . . glitterand gold: A clear imitation of Plowman’s Tale 133-8 : ‘That hye on horse wylleth ryde / In glytterande golde of great array / Ipaynted and portred all in pride / No co[m]men knyght may go so gaye / Change of clothyng every day / with golden gyrdels great and small’ (Miskimin 1975: 93, 290; see Norbrook 2002: 54); see also Skelton, Colyn Cloute 310-2. Cf. Maye 117-23.
173 purple pall: E.K. A woolen vestment worn by both Catholic Popes and English Protestant archbishops. The reference evokes the controversy over ecclesiastical vestments during the 1560s and 70s, wherein Puritans objected to the wearing of such garments as surplice, chasuble, and cope. At Exod 28:5-6, 15, the ephod and breastplate of judgment in Aaron’s priestly garments contain purple and scarlet.
blist: blessed
177 belts: E.K.
177 glitterand: E.K.
179 Theyr Pan . . . sold: E.K.
181 Palinode: E.K. A palinode is a retraction (in particular, a poem that retracts an earlier poem). The character of Palinode here, who makes a pilgrimage to Rome only to discover its sins, changes from the Palinode of Maye, who voices the Roman Catholic point of view.
yode: went
182 yode: Cf. Maye 22.
misusage: abuse, corruption
185 leade: Lead their lives; behave themselves (medievalism).
186 Lordes: Cf. Plowman’s Tale 701-8.
187-200 Theyr sheepe . . . to keepe: Cf. Marot, Le Complaincte d’un Pastoreau Chrestien 179-209.
chippes: parings of bread crust; chere: proper food
seely: helpless, too simple
191 corne is theyrs: Cf. Plowman’s Tale, Prologue 43: ‘Thei have the corne, and we the dust’.
file: defile
thriftye stockes: thriving livestock
197 wisards: E.K.
197 weltre: E.K.
knaves: male servants, boys
199 kernes: E.K.
misgone: gone astray
201 Sike mister men: E.K. Archaic.
202 heapen . . . wrath: Cf. Rom 2:5: ‘thou, after thine hardnes and heart that can not repent, heapest unto thy self wrath against the day of wrath and of the declaration of the juste judgment of God’; Rev 6:15-7: ‘And the Kings of the earth, & the great men, and the riche men . . . hid them selves in dennes and among the rockes of the mountaines, And said . . . Fall on us, and hide us . . . from the wrath of the Lambe. For the great day of his wrath is come, and who can stand?’ For Protestants, such passages served as a prophecy of the end of Catholicism.
203 syrlye: E.K.
206 lacke of telling: ‘Inadequacy or defect in the telling’.
clatter: babble
208 melling: E.K.
209-212 Thou medlest . . . of helth: Cf. Maye 55-72.
wyten: censure
210 wyten: Cf. June [100].
rancke: abundant, corrupt
213 Algrin: E.K.
214 bynempt: E.K.
215-230 He is . . . time: A clear yet tactful allegory of Elizabeth’s dispute with Grindal, in which the female eagle represents the queen, and the shellfish the ecclesiastical process leading to Grindal’s suspension. The fable constitutes a miniature (Aeschylean) de casibus tragedy (J.N. King 1990: 44).
215 gree: E.K.
ypent: locked up
astonied: stunned, paralyzed
227 stroke: A blow of judgment, but also an apoplectic seizure.
230 July 230: bett] Were the reading in 1579 correct, E.K.’s gloss (gl 118) would have been unnecessary. Emending to follow E.K.’s lemma reverses the compositor’s substitution of the more standard form, better, for what we take to be the reading in his copy.
234 In . . . virtus: ‘Virtue resides in the middle’, alluding to the golden mean of Aristotelian philosophy.
236 In . . . fœlicitas: ‘Felicity lies at the summit’, a Platonic adage adapted to worldly ends.
1 scrypture: See 105-12n. Cf. Matt 25:32-3.
6 Clymbe: Cf. John 10:1.
7 Seneca: Not in Seneca, but cf. Horace, Odes 2.10.10, which E.K. quotes at 67.
7-8 Decidunt . . . lapsu: ‘Lofty things suffer a heavier fall’.
10 sonne: Likely a pun on the Son of God, as depicted at Mark 13:6-26.
13 The Cupp and Diademe: The constellations Crater and Corona Borealis, respectively.
17 Dogge starre: The Dog days, beginning mid-July with the rising of the Dog Star, a sign of social unrest.
20 Overture: OED’s only citation of this meaning.
34 Fever Lurdane: Disease of laziness. ‘Lurden’ (lout) was a common term of abuse. Cf. Wily Beguiled (1606): ‘long, large . . . loselled lurden’ (47); for E.K.’s etymology, see Holinshed, Chronicles 1.709, 5.256 (see Brooks-Davies 1995: 123).
36 Weeteless: ‘Apparently coined by Spenser’ (OED headnote).
40 Synecdochen: A rhetorical figure in which the part represents the whole (i.e., Dan for Israel).
41 Diodorus Syc: Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 17.7.6-7, but the principal source is Mantuan, Eclogues 8.42-49.
42 Ida: Endymion slept on Mount Latmus, not Mount Ida.
51-52 follye . . . thence: Cf. Gen 3:23-4.
53 Synah: Mount Sinai, where Moses received the ten commandments (Exod 19-20).
56 Rochester: A city in England, at the mouth of the Medway, of strategic and naval importance. Spenser was secretary to John Young, Bishop of Rochester.
61 Theocritus: E.K.’s following quotation from the Greek of Epigrams 1.6 is problematic, and, possibly, misquoted; the version he offers may be translated as ‘end of a branch of terebinth [belonging to] goats’. The canonical reading is τερμίνθου τρώγων ἔσχατον ἀκρεμόνα, which the Hopkinson’s Loeb edition translates as ‘This white, horned billy goat that is nibbling the end of a branch of terebinth’.
61 Mantuane: See Eclogues 8.15-18.
67 Feriuntque . . . montes: ‘It is the mountain peaks that are struck by lightning’ (Horace, Odes 2.10.11-2, but substituting fulmina for fulgura).
losell: scoundrel
Hale: healthy
84 Hecubas dreame: Cf. Hyginus, Fables 91; Apollodorus, Library 3.12.5; Boccaccio, Gen Deor 6.22.
89-90 Venus . . . Paris: The story of Paris choosing Aphrodite over Hera and Athena was understood to allegorize a valuing of love over wisdom and virtue. Cf. Fulgentius, Mytholologiae 2.1; Boccaccio, Gen Deor 6.22; Conti, Myth 6.24.
95-96 Argus . . . Io: Cf. Ovid, Met 1.588-747.
meanenesse: lowliness
102 Not so true: At Exod 32:1-6, Aaron makes the idolatrous golden calf.
107 Chaucer: In fact, the pseudo-Chaucerian Plowman’s Tale 134, 162.
108 I. Goore: John Gower (1330-1340?-1408), who wrote Confessio Amantis (1390).
112 Wisards: Often contemptuous, but here also meaning conjuror, a charge made by Protestants against Catholic priests.
122 Æschylus: Recorded by Pliny, Natural History 10.3.7. In 1564, Grindal told the story in a funeral sermon for Emperor Ferdinand; see Remains of Archbishop Grindal (1843) 8.
cote: profession
138 doctour: Learned teacher of the church. The specific doctor has not been identified.
138 Suorum Christus humillimus: ‘Christ the humblest of his own’.
141 Suorum deus altissimus: ‘God the most exalted of his own’.
131 two contrary vices: Cf. Aristotle, Nic Eth 2.9.1-4.

August is unique in SC for its formal complexity--in structure, rhyme scheme, tone, and thus in function and significance. It becomes not merely the ‘ultimate comic distillation of Virgilian pastoral in The Shepheardes Calender’ (Bernard 1989: 68) but more precisely the book’s register for the genre of pastoral itself, unfolding the poet’s skilled authority before the nation.

The eclogue consists of four main parts: 1) in lines 1-52, Perigot and Willye engage in a dialogue over Perigot’s debilitating love for a ‘bouncing Bellibone’ (61) and select Cuddie as their judge for a singing contest; 2) in lines 53-124, the two shepherds engage in the singing contest, with Perigot voicing his suffering and Willye offering a response; 3) in lines 125-50, Cuddie then awards the prize to both shepherds and offers to ‘rehearse’ (194) Colin Clout’s song of unrequited love for Rosalind; and 4) in lines 151-95, Cuddie records Colin’s song, followed by Perigot’s ‘admir[ing]’ response (191) and Cuddie’s call for the shepherds to go ‘home’ (194).

Each of the four parts has its own rhyme scheme. The opening dialogue redeploys the six-line stanza of Januarye (ababcc), with its iambic pentameter line, although it orchestrates the layout of the rhyme scheme quite differently and with considerable complexity: in lines 1-24, Willye speaks the quatrain and Perigot the couplet; in lines 25-42, Willye speaks the six-line stanza twice and Perigot once; and then in lines 43-52 the shepherds alternate two-line units, until Cuddie concludes by voicing the stanza’s last two lines. The roundelay sung during the singing contest—arguably pastoral’s defining event—relies on a tetrameter line and consists of thirty quatrains rhyming abab, with Perigot singing the ‘a’ lines’ and Willye the ‘b’. The follow-up conversation awarding the prizes and leading up to Colin’s song redistributes the six-line stanza, with Cuddie singing all the quatrains but one and with the other two shepherds singing the couplets. Colin’s song, the showpiece of August, is an English sestina, using an unrhymed, iambic pentameter line spread across six stanzas, concluded with a three-line envoy. The form of the sestina traces to Arnaut Daniel, Dante, Petrarch, Sannazaro, and the French Pléiade, with Spenser and Sidney (in ‘Ye goteheard Gods’) vying for the title of English inventor, although Spenser’s sestina is the first to appear in print (cf. Shapiro 1980). The placement of a six-stanza poem with six lines in each stanza is appropriate to an eclogue about the sixth month of the year, according to the old calendar, which begins in March (Brooks-Davies 1995: 128). Yet it was Petrarch in the Rime Sparse who had featured the number six in his sestinas as a ‘particularly clear example of a cyclical form expressing the embeddedness of human experience in time’: the ‘recurrence of the six rhyme-words expresses the soul’s obsession with its inability to transcend time’ (Durling 1976: 17).

Nonetheless, as E.K. points out in his Argument, the key subtexts for August are the singing contests in Theocritus and Virgil, Idylls 5 and 6 and Eclogues 3 and 7. While the singing contest, known as ‘amoeboean song’, was ‘destined to become a hallmark of the bucolic poetry of Theocritus and his imitators’ (Halperin 1983: 178), it forms an unusually precise model for the imitative methodology of pastoral poetry. For the fiction of two singers competing with each other in rivalry for a prize models the way that pastoral poets produce their art in rivalry with preceding poets, the way Theocritus does with the epics of Homer (Halperin 1983: 170-89, 223-30, 237-43, 250-3). E.K. encapsulates this model—scripting a precise mimesis identifying imitation with representation--when he calls the singing contest ‘a delectable controversie, made in imitation of that in Theocritus: whereto also Virgile fashioned his third and seventh Æglogue’ (Arg 1-3).

The Theocritean link of pastoral with epic appears in displaced form in the singing contest, which notably replaces war with art, and often resolves the competition peacefully. The generic paradigm appears on one of the traditional prizes of the contest, the drinking cup, which constitutes a miniature ekphrasis (one that, for Theocritus, originates in the famed decorated shield of Achilles in the Iliad, Book 18): the self-conscious artifact of the cup represents not merely pastoral as an art form (cf. Halperin 1983: 185-7) but the agonistic epic dynamic of pastoral. Thus the ‘mazer’ that Willye offers contains two scenes, each representing a version of the epic dynamic of Spenser’s pastoral. The first depicts an ivy vine taming the ‘fiers warre’ of ‘Beres and Tygres’ (28)—‘fiers warre’ to appear in Spenser’s programmatic phrase for epic in the opening stanza of FQ: ‘Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song’ (I.pr.1.9). The second scene depicts a ‘shepherd swayne’ stepping in to ‘save’ a ‘Lambe in the Wolves jawes’, an act of pastoral bravery evocative of the epic heroes of Scripture, David and Christ. When Spenser says that his cup is fit for ‘any harvest Queene’ (36), he gestures to the public utility of his pastoral for Elizabeth (see 25-36n).

Spenser’s insertion of the sestina into an eclogue with a singing contest is original in the pastoral tradition, and demonstrates his competitive overgoing of the very tradition he imitates, modeled in the way that the sestina triumphs over the roundelay of Willye and Perigot. Yet it is not clear how the two songs finally relate. Do they ‘occur in the same eclogue because they work out two extremes of the pastoral assumption that love suffering is appeased or stabilized by song’ (Alpers 1985: 92)? Or do they form evidence of Spenser’s critique of such a paradise principle: ‘erotic obsession’ may be ‘the means to poetic expression’, but ‘[m]isogyny is the dark side of recreative narcissism’ (Berger 1988: 393). However construed, the eclogue does create a counterpoint on the Petrarchan theme of unrequited love as it affects the poet’s art: between the ‘light-hearted . . . mock-tragic’ tone of the roundelay, characterized by Perigot’s naïve lovelorn-ness and Willye’s splendid cynicism, and the ‘serious . . . tragedy’ of the sestina (Cullen 1970: 106-7). Whereas Perigot can be spurred into song by Willye, Colin has abandoned his art, and thus his song can only be rehearsed (see Hoffman 1977: 84). The ‘grief becomes something of a performance art’ (McCabe 1999: 549), but that art reveals something unexpected: embedded in time amid the isolated world of the forest, Colin suddenly sympathizes with Rosalind, whose ‘voyces silver sound’ (181) inspires his verse, which, unlike in Januarye or June, now recognizes the ‘misdeede, that bred her woe’ (186).

Unlike the woodcut for June, the woodcut for August is relatively straightforward, though impressively detailed. In the center are the three shepherds involved in the singing contest, shrouded by the shade of a tree amid leafy foliage, while in the foreground are the prizes of a ‘spotted Lambe’ (37) and a maplewood cup or ‘mazer ywrought’ (26). To the left is Venus holding the ‘golden Apple’ that E.K. identifies in his gloss on Willye’s reference to the Judgment of Paris (137-8). Since Paris had awarded the fruit to the love goddess rather than to Juno or Athena, causing the Trojan War, the reference lets a tragic tenor intrude into the narrative. Likely, Spenser alludes to the marriage between Queen Elizabeth and the French duc d’Alençon, since August is the month of Virgo (as the woodcut displays) and thus of the Virgin Queen: the depiction of the danger of desire in the woodcut, as well as in the dialogue, roundelay, and sestina, warns Elizabeth against marriage in favor of virginity (Brooks-Davies 1995: 128-9). Yet one detail is especially striking. In the upper-left corner, a male figure walks toward a building; presumably, the figure is Colin Clout, returning to the ‘house’ from which Rosalind ‘did part’ (161).

The detail suggests that August is important partly because it includes the second of three inset-songs sung by Colin, joining the Aprill lay of Queen Elisa and the November elegy on Queen Dido; thereby, it makes apparent a central question raised by the Calender: how does the ‘authour’ of the ‘book’ deploy his own self-image within the eclogue-fiction? If Colin in August is a ‘failed Orpheus’ (Brown 1972-3: 15), Spenser’s own virtuoso performance of an Orphic sestina suggests that his poetry functions as a ‘transformative . . . art’ (McCabe 1999: 550), one that builds a bridge between the individual’s faith in nature from earlier eclogues (e.g., Januarye) and a transcendent vision of the divine in November (P. Cheney 1993: 98-100). Colin’s sympathy with Rosalind forms that bridge, represented metaphorically in his identification with Philomela, who has been raped by her brother-in-law, Tereus, but who produces piercing song out of pain: ‘Hence with the Nightingale will I take part, / That blessed byrd, that spends her time of sleepe / In songs and plaintive pleas’ (183-5; see notes to 180-6). Remarkably, Colin feels sympathy for Rosalind despite the fact that—or perhaps because--his love for her remains unrequited: it is a stunning breakthrough in Petrarchan poetry, although it has a precedent in Petrarch’s discovery, voiced imaginatively after Laura dies, when she assumes status as an angel in heaven: pur per nostro ben dura ti fui (RS 341.13: ‘“still for our good was I cruel to you”’).

Finally, the sophisticated artistry of August illustrates Spenser’s competitive worthiness to address the nation of Queen Elizabeth on the relation between eros and art.

1 delectable: delightful
1 delectable controversie: The oxymoron draws attention to the function of the singing match, delight intermixed with instruction (a humorous version of Horace’s famous dictum).
1 made in imitation: The first Argument to identify the poet’s artistic method: ‘imitation’ (see also Nov Arg).
2 Theocritus: Cf. Idylls 5 and 6 but also 8, 9, and 27 (see headnote).
2 Virgile: In addition to Ecl 3 and 7, see 5, 8, and 9 (see headnote).
umpere: umpire
3 umpere: Cf. ‘judge’ at 53. Perhaps a play on ‘peer’; cf. ‘peregall’ at line 8.
neatheards: cowherd’s
cause: contest
4 reciteth: See ‘rehearse’ at 142, 193.
proper: excellent; belonging distinctively to someone; fitting the circumstance
game: sport, diversion, contest
Wherefore: with which
2 dare . . . match: Spenser’s language of poetic rivalry recurs at 21-4.
renne: run
frame: tune; order
3 frame: For ‘frame’ as always part of Spenser’s language of poetic craft in SC, see Jan 10; June 55, 78; Oct 25; Dec 68, 77, 115.
3 Bagpypes: Cf. the woodcut, which depicts a shawm.
assayde: afflicted
apayd: contented, rewarded, pleased
7 bestadde: E.K.
8 Whilom: E.K.
8 peregall: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, Tr 5.839-40: ‘His herte ay with the first and with the beste / Stood paregal, to durre don that hym leste’.
passe: surpass
10 passe: Cf. June 74.
11 Ah . . . daunce: While recurrent in literature (‘almost proverbial’ [Renwick, Var 7: 341), Perigot’s phrase ‘newe daunce’ may more directly speak to the idiom of the medieval tradition of ‘the old daunce’ (the game of love), as at Chaucer, GP 477-8, said of the Wife of Bath: ‘Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce, / For she koude of that art the old daunce’.
14 raft: E.K. The spelling raft occurs here and again at 40. The word reft appears many times elsewhere (e.g., Daph, where it is repeated distinctively at l159, 160, 162, then a final time at 220).
reede: inform
appall: dismay, make pale
younglings: young lambs
16 miswent: E.K.
19-20 Perdie . . . plight: E.K.
wellawaye: alas
plight: condition
But and if: but if
mochell: much
dared: did not take up a challenge
Pledge: promise
plight: propose
warre: knot, burr, i.e., burr-maple
26-36 Cf. Theocritus, Idylls 1.27-56; Virgil, Ecl 3.36-48. Willye’s cup depicts two emblematic scenes: in the first, an ivy vine creates harmony out of the havoc wreaked by bears and tigers; in the second, a shepherd saves a lamb from the jaws of a wolf. The two-scene emblem presents a ‘familiar aesthetic’: ‘art acquires the power to draw harmony out of conflict by removing itself from the world, but this withdrawal must be followed by a renewed commitment to action. More simply, art must teach as well as please’ (D.L. Miller 1979: 229). The details of the scenes, so intricate and lifelike, suggest that Spenser may have inspected ‘actual mazers’ (Tuve, Var 7: 342).
26 mazer: E.K. ‘A bowl, drinking cup, or goblet, usually without a foot, made from a burr or knot of a maple tree and frequently mounted with silver or silver-gilt bands at the lip and base’ (OED, citing Spenser as an example).
27 enchased: E.K.
28-30 Of Beres . . . twine: Bears and tigers, often linked but also opposed as enemies (cf., e.g., FQ II.ii.22.5-9), signify both wrath and sexual energy (Rowland 1973: 33, 151). The vine and ivy evoke Bacchus, god of wine, lust, and amorous excess. The vine here also performs the traditional role of Orpheus, taming wild beasts by art.
28 fiers warre: Cf. FQ I.pr.1.9: ‘Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song’ (see headnote).
30 Entrailed: E.K.
Thereby: near that
renneth: runs
32 shepheard swayne: The phrase describes both Immerito at ‘To His Booke’ 9 and Colin at Apr 98 (Lane 1993: 177n5). The phrase appears subsequently (e.g., at Julye 5, Dec 44).
33 save the innocent from the beastes pawes: Inescapably evokes Christ the Good Shepherd, thus suggesting a salvific role for art.
mought: might
beseme: befit
36 harvest Queene: E.K. The phrase evokes Queen Elizabeth.
37 Thereto . . . Lambe: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 3.29-31.
38 nis sike another: ‘Is none like him’.
Dambe: dam, mother
40-42 Colin Clout raft me . . . forst to yield: The detail anticipates mention of Colin at 50 and the singing of his song later, as well as highlighting his superiority as a community singer. The eclogue fictionalizes a complex hierarchy of poetic authority, in this order: Tityrus, Colin, Cuddie, Perigot, Willye.
41 purchast . . . playne field: ‘Won from me on even ground’, i.e., fairly.
43 Sicker . . . brother: ‘Assume that the same will occur with his brother’.
45 heardgrome: Cf. the description of Cuddie at Feb 35.
46 pousse: E.K.
But for: because
Gynne: begin
124-53 It fell upon a holly eve . . . endeth our roundelay: ‘Spenser was writing with a popular tune in his mind’, probably ‘an old tune called “Heigh ho, holiday” to which one of the songs in Deloney’s Garland of Good Will (1593) is to be sung’ (Pattison, Var 7: 346). The roundelay was reprinted in England’s Helicon (1600), and ‘became speedily popular and aided in correcting the roughness and gravity of our earlier style’, the ‘dialogue in rhyme . . . a feat greatly more difficult than the “stichometry” of the Athenian drama’ (Palgrave, Var 7: 338). For Henry Constable’s imitation of the roundelay, see Var 7: 339.
holly: holy
53 It fell upon: E.K.
55 wont . . . shrieve: ‘[C]ustomarily hear confession: the feast could be that . . . under the auspices of Virgo, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, 8 September, on the eve of which Queen Elizabeth was born. Note that this roundelay . . . is thus located in a Cranmerian rather than progressive Protestant landscape’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 132).
57-63 hill . . . dale: The landscape especially of June and Julye.
selfe did spill: wasted his time
Bellibone: girl, bonny lass, fair maid
61 I saw the bouncing Bellibone: Perigot’s Petrarchan sight of a beautiful female recalls Colin’s epiphany of Queen Elisa in Aprill and anticipates that of Queen Dido in November. Spenser uses the word ‘Bellibone’ earlier only at Aprill 92; together, the two examples are the first of three cited by OED, which adds: ‘corruption of French belle bonne or belle et bonne fair and good; if not a humorous perversion of bonnibel’.
66 hey ho . . . greete: E.K. Cf. Drayton, Pastorals, Eclogue 4, on Dowsabell: ‘She ware a Frock of frollicke green, / Might well become a Mayden Queene, / Which seemly was to see’ (Var 7: 346).
Kirtle: skirt
saye: good cloth
meete: proper
70 chapelet: E.K.
71 Violets: Flower of love and modesty.
seely: poor
wood: mad
79 rovde at: Roved at, shot arrows randomly.
81-92 All as the Sunnye beame . . . piteous plight: A sustained set of similes, comparing the effect of the Bellibone’s ‘glauncing eye’ (itself compared to crystal at 81) on Perigot: first to a sunbeam, next to lightning, and finally to moonlight striking a wave. The elaborate comparison draws attention to the way erotic desire creates poetic art.
87 lightsome levin shroudes: ‘Radiant lightning hides itself’ (McCabe 1999: 551).
89 Cynthias: E.K. Cf. Apr 82.
pitteous plight: moving effect; pathetic state of affairs
93 glaunce . . . glide: The two words form a familiar link in battle descriptions (see FQ III.ix.25.5n).
94 glyder: An unusual word in English at this time, used uniquely to describe the glance as an object performing an action (cited OED).
95 gryde: E.K. Cf. Feb 4.
wexen: become, grow
raunch: pull, pluck
hart roote: bottom of the heart
desperate: causing despair
103-104 Ne can I find salve . . . cureless sorrowe: Pinpoints a key question raised by the eclogue, both here and regarding Colin’s sestina: can singing about unfulfilled desire be therapeutic (‘find salve’)? At 143-4, Perigot appears to change his mind; see note on these lines and on 190-3. Cf. Oenone’s complaint to Paris in Ovid, Heroides 5.149: me miseram, quod amor non est medicabilis herbis! (‘Alas, wretched me, that love may not be healed by herbs!’). For Paris, cf. 137-8, Julye 146-7.
curelesse: incurable
104 Aug 104: curelesse] The reading in 1579, although traditionally unchallenged, sharply contradicts the theme of the psychological burdens of love, hence our emendation, which extends the figure in the previous line.
thilk: this or that
107 should . . . thought: ‘The girl would not leave my thoughts’.
pinching: painful, withering
110 pinching: Cf. Apr 18.
112 but if: E.K.
113 gracelesse greefe: ‘Grief’ caused by a girl who refuses to offer ‘grace’ or favor.
priefe: proof
mocke: derisive gesture
Sicker sike: certain such
roundle: roundelay
125 roundle: Cf. Chaucer, LGW F 422-3: ‘And many an ympne, for your halydayes, / That highten balades, roundels, virelayes’. See note on Apr [33].
lacketh: falls short
overgone: surpassed
undersongs: burdens, sung responses
addrest: done, ordered, arranged; dressed
128 undersongs: cf. ‘overgone’ in the preceding line. Spenser will go on to use the word ‘undersong’ distinctively, e.g., Daph 245; Colin Clout 169; Proth 110.
129 squint eye: E.K.
Areede uprightly: say fairly
deeme: judge
gayned: won
131 ech have: E.K.
for: because; payned: taken such pains
wroughten: ornamented, designed
alone: exclusively
135 doome: E.K.
136 wite the witelesse: E.K. Cf. June 100 and E.K’.s gloss.
137 dempt: E.K.
138 shepheard of Ida: E.K. For Spenser’s other references to the Judgment of Paris, see Julye 145-52 (Stewart 1988).
138 beauties Queene: E.K.
should: would
yshend: put to shame
fresh: new, invigorating
141 Of Rosalend (who knowes not Rosalend?): Spenser will re-deploy the rhetorical device famously at FQ VI.x.16.4: ‘Of Colin Clout (who knowes not Colin Clout?)’; TCM VII.vi.36.6: ‘Of Arlo-hill (Who knowes not Arlo-hill?)’. Puttenham, Arte of English Posie, discusses erotesis under erotema or the questioner, ‘speaking indeed by interrogation which we might as well say by affirmation’ (296).
ylke: the same
rehearse: recite, perform
142 rehearse: Cf. 193.
143 ladde: According to OED, both a ‘young shepherd’ in ‘pastoral poetry’ and ‘a man of spirit and vigour’.
medle: mix
144 With mery thing its good to medle sadde: Identifies the love sickness of Perigot and Willye’s roundelay as ‘mery’ in comparison to the sadness of Colin’s sestina (Cullen 1970: 108). Cf. Apr 68, Maye 263, Julye 209.
ycrouned: crowned
stede: place
148 matter . . . deede: ‘Work he has done’.
151-189 Ye wastefull . . . pitie augment: The sestina modifies the Petrarchan sestina at RS 22, 30, 66, 80, 142, 214, 237, 239, 332 [a double sestina]), where the rhyme scheme of six words—e.g., at RS 237, Italian words for waves (‘onde’) moon (‘luna’), night (‘notte’), woods (‘boschi’), meadow (‘piaggia’), evening (‘sera’)--follows no particular order after the first stanza, except for the repetition in the first line of the second stanza of the last line in the first (e.g., 123456 615243 364125). In contrast, Colin’s rhyme scheme follows the strict order of its six rhyme-words—woe, resound, cryes, part, sleepe, augment—in this order: 123456 612345 561234, etc. The final tercet uses only 246, a direct imitation of Petrarch’s tercet. Possibly, ‘Spenser’s simple end-word scheme . . . is . . . borrowed from the sixteenth-century Spanish poet Gutierre de Cetina’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 136). Nowhere in SC is the contrast between the fiction of a dejected Colin and the virtuosity of Spenser greater. E.K. does not gloss Colin’s sestina, suggesting that Spenser may have added it late in the process of publication, perhaps in response to Sidney’s sestina, ‘Ye Goteherd gods’.
151-156 Ye wastefull woods . . . ofte augment: The image of Colin singing his songs in the natural locale of woods, birds, and spring recalls his habitual position throughout SC (see especially Apr 33-6, June 1-8, 49-64).
carelesse: carefree
154 make a part: ‘Form part of the melody or counterpoint’.
157-174 Resort of people . . . my deadly cryes: Colin turns from society and community to self and alienation, from ‘walled townes’ (158) to ‘gastfull grove’ (170), from the domain of epic to that of pastoral, concluding, ‘Here will I dwell apart’ (169).
159-160 resound . . . Echo: The Orphic formula of the woods resounding. See 180-6n.
part: depart
161 I hate the house, since thence my love did part: A domestic parallel to Orpheus’ loss of Eurydice.
want: lack, absence
voyd: go away
doole: sorrow
bowre: bedchamber
gastfull: fearsome, depressing
173-174 byrds . . . death: Owls and ravens were birds of ill omen.
deadly: deathly, mortal
ruthfully: pitiably
bewray: reveal
yrksome: distressing, painful
180-186 till safe and sound . . . bred her woe: A significant change from June 97-101, where Colin imagines his complaint harming Rosalind. Here the graceful poetry imagines Rosalind coming home again and using her beautiful voice to ‘chaunge’ Colin’s ‘cherelesse cryes’ to ‘cheerefull songs’. This fantasy, which never materializes in the fiction of SC, prepares for Colin’s identification with Philomela: ‘Hence with the Nightingale will I take part’. Philomela is the Athenian princess raped by her brother-in-law, Tereus; after she and her sister, Procne, take revenge on him, they escape, and metamorphose into birds: Philomela, into the nightingale; Procne, into the swallow. Because Philomela uses harmonious song to express deep sorrow, she becomes a Western icon of the poet’s power to convert tragedy into art. See Ovid, Met 6.424-674; yet Spenser’s key source-texts are Virgil, Geor 4.511-3; Petrarch, RS 311; Gascoigne, Complaint of Philomene. The Georgics is most important for associating Orpheus, a poet who has lost his wife, with Philomela, a woman who has been raped, thus making Spenser’s representation ‘Orphic’ (Brown 1972-3: 14-6). Yet Spenser differs from his sources in transposing the nightingale to pastoral, where the bird becomes especially associated with Colin (Nov 25, 141, Dec 79), and evokes a poet progressing from pastoral to epic (P. Cheney 1993: 98-107). The phrase ‘blessed byrd’ draws attention to Colin’s sympathy with the raped nightingale and with the departed Rosalind (see headnote).
181 silver sound: On this phrase, see June 61n. There, the Muses, and especially Calliope, Muse of epic, hear a ‘silver sound’, drop their musical instruments, and rush to find the cause of it, but are taken aback when they find a lowly shepherd, Colin Clout. Here in August, Spenser traces the origin of Colin’s silver art—a trope for the paradox that a lowly pastoral poet can sound the heightened note of epic—to Rosalind, with her ‘voyces silver sound’. Cf. Apr 46 (and note), where Spenser links Colin’s ‘silver song’ with Queen Elisa.
apart: in the distance
sounder: sound, deep, or profound
189 pitie augment: Colin’s address to ‘you that feele no woe’, and his request that they augment their pity for him, constitutes a change: now he uses song to express his willingness to rejoin the pastoral community.
admire: feel wonder
191 turning . . . verse: ‘Frame your verse line endings’ in accord with the sestina form (McCabe 1999: 552).
liefest: dearest
197 Vincenti gloria victi: ‘The glory of the defeated goes to the conqueror’.
199 Vinto non vitto: It, ‘Conquered, not defeated’.
201 Felice . . . può: Either ‘let him be happy who can’ or (as E.K. prefers), ‘he is happy who can’.
7 Infelix . . . pecus: ‘Poor sheep, ever luckless flock!’ (Virgil, Ecl 3.3).
8 Theocritus and Virgile: Theocritus, Idylls 1.23-56, 5.20-30; Virgil, Ecl 3.35-48.
18 Pousse: Pulse, field of peas (dialect).
29 Squint eye: A sign of envy.
enterchaunge: exchange
31 Et . . . hic: ‘You deserve the heifer, and he also’ (Virgil, Ecl 3.109).
pryce of: award for
dew: due
45 leave of: be content with

September is the third and final ecclesiastical eclogue, following Maye and Julye. It features two shepherds, Hobbinol and Diggon Davie, in a format of dialogue-and-fable first established in Februarie, which had used pastoral dialogue to distinguish between the merits of youth and age. Here, the conversation distinguishes between Hobbinol’s contentment with his pastoral retreat in the paradise of an Arcadian landscape and Diggon’s bitter return to this locale after his sojourn to a foreign country. At issue, then, is the pastoral protection of a sacred place, and the shepherd’s role in it.

The eclogue divides into four parts: 1) in lines 1-24, the shepherds greet each other and establish the terms of their different experiences; 2) in lines 25-171, Diggon dilates on his disillusionment over his trip, while Hobbinol provides consolation; 3) in lines 172-241, Diggon tells a tale that confirms his grim experience, in which the shepherd Roffy and his dog Lowder war against a crafty wolf; and 4) in lines 242-59, Diggon rejects the idea of catharsis that telling a tale can bring, while Hobbinol offers friendship in his cottage at home.

Two key source-texts inform the dialogue: Mantuan, Eclogues 9, which contrasts praise of the good shepherd with the corruption of the Roman curia; and Virgil, Eclogues 1 and 9, which tell a combined story about Roman land dispossession, exile, and wolves. In the intersection here of Arcadian and Mantuanesque pastoral (Cullen 1970; see introduction), figured respectively in Diggon and Hobbinol, Spenser can be seen to temper ‘Mantuan’s tone’ and recover ‘Virgilian pastoral’: he fuses ecclesiastical harshness and classical otium (Lindheim 1994: 18). Yet Diggon’s name derives more directly from Davy Diker (one who builds dikes, a digger) in Thomas Churchyard’s Davy Dycars Dreame (c. 1552) and, before him, the ‘radical ploughman’ from Langland’s Piers Plowman, ‘Dawe þe Dykere’ (B 5.320), in a tradition of radical reform (Brooks-Davies 1995: 141; see J.N. King 1990: 25). Diggon may even function as a Langlandian figure for Churchyard himself, whose biography resembles Diggon’s, and who controversially used poetry to indict public leaders obliquely (Fleay, Var 7: 353; see Lucas 2002: 157-8). Yet Diggon differs from his specifically literary ancestors in both Churchyard and Langland in that ‘his fall into poverty is not the result of others’ actions, namely the greed of lords and the clergy’, but rather [it is caused by] his own bewitchment through their guile (lines 74-5; Little 2013: 159).

Recalling Maye and Julye, September thus takes as its primary topic the spiritual life of the pastor in the face of ecclesiastical corruption. At issue historically is ‘the way in which prelatical or powerful secular patrons oppress lower clergy by means of financial exactions against which there is no appeal’ (Hume 1984: 37), as well as the threat of the Jesuit Mission (Cain in Oram 1989: 150). Yet once again it is not clear whether the ‘forrein costes’ (28) under scrutiny target Rome or England, and specifically Wales (J.N. King 1990: 44), or what Spenser’s own ecclesiastical polity might be, and whether he belongs to the Puritan or progressive Protestant faction (Hume 1984 vs King 1990). Equally at issue is the role that the poet plays in rehearsing the debate: is he ambivalent (Cullen 1970: 62-8), or does he express an agenda siding with the mournful Diggon (Hume 1984: 39-40)? Complementing the ecclesiastical concerns is a social dynamic regarding Elizabethan economics, including ‘such controversial issues as vagrancy, poverty, class exploitation, and internal security’ (Lane 1993: 132), but also, more particularly, the idea of a basically virtuous British ‘laborer’ becoming ‘bewitcht’ by the prospect of becoming ‘enricht’ (74-5)—in other words, of becoming inwardly complicit in his own outward ‘poverty’, and thereby advancing a distinctly Reformation emphasis on the inward life (Little 2013: 156-61).

More directly than any other eclogue, ‘September is . . . concerned with the failure of communication. . . . With its emphasis on saying and missaying, September paves the way for the October discussion of poetry. . . . [Diggon and Hobbinol] tend toward extreme positions of black-world invective and green-world idyllism’ (Berger 1988: 309, 313). In particular, the eclogue gives extreme articulation to the oppositions of religio-political engagement and pastoral withdrawal, preparing for the discussion of the responsibilities (and irresponsibilities) of poetry in the next eclogue. Finally, then, September qualifies as ‘a virtual primer for any future author of protest poetry: a work that exemplifies more clearly than any other poem of its time the most efficacious protective strategies available for poets who wished to voice publicly their opinions on dangerous subjects while minimizing the threat of punishment for those opinions’ (Lucas 2002: 161).

Metrically, September deploys the same rugged tetrameter couplets as Julye, inflected with a dialect aiming to be Welsh but in reality more indebted to Northern and Scots idioms (Brooks-Davies 1993: 141).

The woodcut is among ‘the least specific of all the cuts’, as well as the most straightforward (Luborksy 1981: 35). Hobbinol stands to the left with the comfort of his fenced house behind him, while to the right Diggon (identifiable by the scrip or pouch at his waist) sits sprawled on the ground, a shade-tree and foliage behind him. The depleted nature of the sheep outside Hobbinol’s house identifies them as Diggon’s (see line 25). Of all the other woodcuts that feature two speakers (Feb, March, June, Oct, Nov, to an extent Maye), September joins only Julye in distinguishing between a shepherd who stands and one who sits. Unlike Thomalin and Morrell, however, who each use their hands to gesture to each other, here Hobbinol alone makes the gesture, while Diggon keeps his hands at his side, one firmly holding his sheep-hook, his head looking up: there is separation and loss, yet a beckoning toward union, and steadfastness amid misfortune.

At 259 lines, September is the second longest of the eclogues (after Maye), and is notable for its use of verse, dialect, narrative, and fable to reflect subtly on the poet-pastor’s use of free speech to write about matters of ecclesiastical and social concern in the developing Elizabethan state.

1 Diggon Davie: Diggon is the Welsh form of Diccon, a nickname for Dick, Richard. Scholars agree that Diggon evokes Richard Davies, Bishop of St. David’s, a supporter of Archbishop Grindal and the translator of the New Testament and parts of the Book of Common Prayer into Welsh (McLane 1961: 216-34). In addition to Churchyard’s Davy Dycars Dreame and Langland’s figure in Piers Plowman (see headnote), in the background may also be Barclay’s Amintas from Eclogue 5, who also leaves the pastoral world of shepherding for the town (Little 2013: 157). As such, ‘Diggon is a clear surrogate for Colin, another wayward prodigal . . . whose disaffection from the pastoral world also threatens to divorce him from its poetry’ (Nicholson 2014: 115). Indeed, Diggon joins Colin as the only shepherds in SC who follow the ‘formula of out-and-back’, in which a shepherd leaves the pastoral world for the court and then comes home again, to which Spenser ‘attached important meanings’, for ‘it occurs at least four times in his poetry’ (MacCaffrey 1976: 366-7): the old hermit Heavenly Contemplation (FQ I.x.60); Colin Clout in Colin Clout; and both the Hermit and Melibee at FQ VI.v.37 and VI.ix.24. At Jan 50, Colin leaves the pastoral world for ‘the neighbour towne’ (see note). Spenser tends to use the formula to test the limits and merits of disillusionment (cf. P. Cheney 1993: 49-52).
devised: invented, composed
1 devised: ‘The word “devised” seems to suggest . . . that readers are already familiar with the character Diggon Davy [via Churchyard and Langland; see note above]. . . . [T]he use of “devised” ensures that this figure preserves his previous existence as laborer’ (Little 2013: 157).
2 gayne: See 72.
2 farre countrye: Either Rome or Wales; see note on ‘Popish prelates’ below. Cf. ‘forein costes’ at 28.
3 Hobbinols: As E.K. points out in his gloss at [176], in the topical allegory of SC the figure represents Gabriel Harvey, Spenser’s close friend from Cambridge. Hobbinol also appears as a speaker in Aprill and June.
3 Popish prelates: As with Maye and Julye, here the figures of ‘abuse’ are not merely Catholic priests (J.N. King 1990: 44) but also English clergy with ‘Popish’ leanings (Hume 1984: 21).
her: he or him
1 her: Welsh, likely to evoke Bishop Davies.
1 bidde her: E.K.
1 god: Archaic for ‘good’ (although it may reflect Welsh pronunciation).
missaye: am mistaken, speak incorrectly
2 missaye: The word, which recurs at 106, signals the eclogue’s concern with language and with the problem of communication (see headnote).
5 wightly: E.K. Cf. Mar 91.
at earst: already; at once, suddenly
6 dirke night: Diggon’s phrase can be read metaphorically to refer to his state of mind, but it could also signal ‘a break in the usual chronographical pattern’, which throughout SC moves from day to evening: ‘In “September” it is twilight from the start’ (Snyder 1998: 42).
10-7 Diggon . . . dead: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.1-2: Candide, quo casu patriis procul actus ab oris / Haec in rura venis? (‘By what misfortune, Candidus, driven far from your fathers’ lands, have you come into these fields?’; trans. Piepho).
areede: explain
dight: equipped, placed; abused
wist: knew
8 wist: Sixteenth-century pseudo-archaism.
9 Where is the fayre flocke . . . leade?: This is the central pastoral trope of SC, evoking social duty, established at ‘To His Booke’ 10 and in Januarye.
at mischiefe: through misfortune
10 chaffred: E.K.
11 leefe: E.K.
ripeth: rips
15-17 Nay . . . to beare: The idea of a sorrowful person talking freely with another as cathartic therapy, although common, will recur in Spenser with particular urgency (e.g., FQ I.vii.38-42; Daph 67). The topic is re-introduced at 52-5. Cf. Ovid, Tristia 4.3.37-8: est quaedam flere voluptas; / Expletur lacrimis egeriturque dolor (‘in weeping there is a certain joy, for by tears grief is sated and relieved’); Petrarch, Bucolicum Carmen 11.5-6: Enecat arctatus mentem dolor; optima mesti / Pectoris est medicina palam lugere (‘Sighs, if suppressed, are fatal; tears openly shed are the only / Remedy for the sad heart’).
17 eath: E.K.
sithence: since
20 Thrise three Moones: E.K. Nine months is the period not only of gestation but of rebirth and fulfillment; it will recur throughout FQ (e.g., I.ix.15.9). It seems strangely applied to Diggon here but may hint at a process of renewal at work in his conversation with Hobbinol. See the reference at line 49 to the ‘Westerne wind’ and the note on the symbolism of renewal.
21 measured: E.K.
22 wandred: Casts Diggon as a vagrant (Lane 1993: 133).
astate: estate, condition
24 astate: Archaic for ‘estate’.
wasted: strayed; destroyed, diminished
25 wae: E.K.
of yore: of old
26 of yore: Cf. Julye 116.
28 forrein costes. See note in Argument on ‘farre countrye’.
dempt: thought; decided to do something; store: possessions
30 dempt: Cf. Aug 137.
30 eeked: E.K. Medievalism; also Scots.
being: way of life, livelihood; truely mene: honestly intentioned or disposed
36 They . . . shame: ‘Shamefully, they sell their good offices’. A reference to the sin of simony, but topically alluding to the clergy selling their benefices.
Mart: market
37 Mart: A Protestant topos of anti-Catholic satire. Cf. Maye 298. ‘[M]onetary references and metaphors . . . dominate the eclogue [see, e.g., 39-41, 94-9]’ (L.S. Johnson 1990: 73).
baytes: baits, traps
her: their
40-41 Or . . . throte: May refer both to the recurrent ecclesiastical fines being levied and to the loss of benefices by responsible clergy (see McCabe 1999: 554).
cote: shelter
41 carven: E.K.
42-46 The shepheards . . . cranck: Cf. Maye 117-23; Julye 165-80, 203-4.
42 ken: E.K. Medievalism; also Scots.
bate: fed
44 Bulls: A biblical image of pride. See 124 and note.
45 cragge: E.K. Northern, Scots.
45 state: E.K.
cranck: boldly, vigorously
46 As cocke . . . cranck: Cf. Drayton, Shepheards Garland, Eclogue 8.163: ‘Like Chanteclere he crowed crancke’. The cock is another emblem of pride.
47 stanck: E.K. Likely a Spenserian coinage, from Ital stanco, ‘weary’.
uneth: scarcely
49 And nowe: E.K.
49 Westerne wind: Zepherus, traditionally associated with spring and renewal, here more obviously suggesting autumn and decline. Yet see 20n. Cf. Apr 122 and note.
sovereigntee: supremacy
52-55 Sitte we downe . . . thou hast: See 15-17n. The idea of ‘talk’ as a way to ‘mock’ the weather is particularly striking, especially since ‘mock’ functions as an artistic term, meaning imitate (OED). See [54]n. The phrase ‘make a mock’ appears at Prov 14:9: ‘The fool maketh a mocke of sin: but among the righteous there is favour’.
under: under the shelter of
54 a mocke: E.K.
56-57 Hobbin . . . grounde: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.11.
stounde: moment
cast: planned; resolved
57 lorne: E.K.
Wel-away: alas
60 uncouth: E.K.
61 Dogge: Cf. Aesop, Fables no. 133 for the dog on a bridge who drops meat from his mouth when he sees his reflection in the water. Cf. Narcissus in Diggon’s Emblem at the end (discussed by E.K. in his gloss): Narcissus, too, sacrifices ‘meat’--his own embodied existence--in favor of its reflection. This playing of Aesop against Ovid is characteristic of the sly humor at work in these eclogues with their intertextual gamesmanship.
62-67 My seely . . . agayne: For the pastoral convention of comparing the enervation of the flock with that of the shepherd, cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.46-7 and 54-8.
63 here by there: E.K.
sterved: dead, dying
pyne: distress, pangs of hunger
65 Bene . . . penuree: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.42-3: Importuna fames, labor improbus, aëris ardor / confecere gregem macie (‘Relentless famine, ceaseless toil, and the heat of the air have all wasted my flock’; trans. Piepho).
Hardly my selfe: even I barely
67 come home agayne: The phrase will reappear in the title of Colin Clouts Come Home Againe.
68-73 Ah fon . . . payne: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.78-80: Vivere tum felix poteras dicique beatus; / sed bona (quod nondum fueras expertus acerbam) / vilis erat tibi teque ideo fortuna reliquit (‘At that time you were able to live as a fortunate man and could be called blessed. But when fortune was good, you valued her cheaply—because as yet you had not known her harshness—and therefore she abandoned you’; trans. Piepho). Also, 9.195-7: facit experientia cautos. / Hi prius explorant et non laudata sequuntur / omnia (‘Experience makes these men cautious. They explore matters beforehand and follow everything that men don’t extol’; trans. Piepho).
fon: foolish (man)
wote ne: know not
74 wote ne: Spenser reverses the usual formulation, ne wote.
74 bewitcht: Another link with Colin Clout, although the agent of enchantment differs: not Rosalind but ‘vayne desyre, and hope to be enricht’ (75; see headnote). Cf. June 18.
76-79 But sicker . . . sich: E.K.
sich: such
80-81 For eyther . . . wyll: Cf. Maye 39-44; Julye 187-204.
ledde of: lead by
casten to compasse: attempt to achieve
83 casten to compasse: For the circumlocution, cf. Oct 103.
83 emprise: E.K.
more bene fraight: majority are fraught, laden
86 conteck: E.K. Cf. Maye 163 and note.
drench: drown
89 holy water: A common object of Protestant satire. Cf. Feb 210, as well as van der Noot, TVW 1615, 1820, 1831, 1845.
con: know
90 high way: Cf. Matt 7:13-5: ‘Enter in at the streict gate: for it is the wide gate, and broad waye that leadeth to destruction . . . Beware of false prophetes, which come to you in shepes clothing, but inwardely they are ravening wolves’.
undersaye: counter, contradict
91 undersaye: Cf. ‘missaye’ at 2, 106: terms of communication (see headnote).
92 troade: E.K.
balk: stray from
94-97 They boast . . . sorrowe: The Reformers often associated Roman Catholic exorcism with demonic magic. Cf. Julye 197.
paund: pawned
Marrie: by Mary (an expletive); that: that which; borrow: pledge, security
96 Marrie . . . borrow: E.K. Cf. 1 Pet 2:25, Matt 20:28; also, Apr 51, Maye 131.
96 great Pan: Christ. See Jan 17n.
quite: release
97 blacke: E.K.
a: in
100 gange: E.K. Cf. March 57.
brewed: brought about, caused
102-103 speake not so dirke . . . to mirke: The lines work doubly: first, as Hobbinol’s request to Diggon to speak plainly; and, second, as the author’s invitation to attend to language and thus to read allegorically. See headnote and notes on 104, 105.
104 playnely to speake: The phrasing recurs at line 136 when Hobbinol tells Diggon he ‘speakest to plaine’. ‘A plain style and highly charged biblical imagery were the common property of English Protestant progressives’ (J.N. King 1990: 18-19).
dirke: darkly, enigmatically, riddlingly
to: too
103 myster: E.K. Spenserian archaism based on a misunderstanding of ‘mister’ (‘craft, trade’) as ‘manner. Cf. Julye 201.
103 mirke: E.K. Spenser’s spelling retains the Northern or Scots form.
104-135 Then playnely to speake . . . leese the grosse: The structure of the speech is careful, dividing into five parts (cf. Herford, Var 7: 358), signaled by iterations of the concept of speech (‘speak . . . They sayne . . . Other sayne . . . Some sticke not to say . . . Sayne’). The ‘device of attributing to others opinions held by the satirist himself . . . is a familiar one in Tudor satire and poetry’, as in Skelton’s Colyn Clout (Hume 1984: 36): in Diggon’s ‘“some say” style’, Spenser’s ‘reported discourse’ is ‘of reported discourse’ (Lucas 2002: 160). At 104-7, Diggon introduces his agreement to speak plainly, stating his general theme, that bad behavior causes men to ‘missay’ both their ‘doctrine’ and their ‘faye’—their teaching (or preaching) and their faith. In the remainder of the speech, Diggon distinguishes among four groups of speakers, each of whom levies a specific criticism against ‘shepheards’: 1) lines 108-09, criticism of an arrogant and ignorant clergy; 2) lines 110-111, criticism of clergy who disgrace their vocation by abusing their parishioners; 3) lines 112-21, criticism of clergy who serve Mammon not God, this world rather than the next, by supporting the Crown’s commitment to agrarian reform; 4) lines 122-35, criticism of clergy who work with powerful patrons to enforce land enclosure, create vagrancy, and in general commercialize the countryside. (See notes on each of the four groups below.)
104 shepheards most what: ‘What is most pertinent to shepherds’.
flatt: plain
105 Badde is the best: An English proverb.
105 (this English is flatt): For ‘flat’ as having reference to ‘composition, discourse’, see OED, citing ‘1573  G. Harvey Let.-bk. (1884) 20[:] Mi over flat and homeli kind of writing’. The parenthetical phrase raises the question of English style, both ecclesiastical and poetic. The plain style is opposite to the ornate (or flowery) style, at which Spenser excels, and for which Hobbinol often serves as a spokesman (e.g., June 1-8); this may help to explain why Hobbinol rehearses Colin’s floral lay of Queen Elisa in Aprill.
garres: makes
missay: speak against
106 missay: See 2 and note.
faye: faith, beliefs
108 war: E.K. Northern, Scots. Cf. Feb 11-2 and note.
109 All . . . beastly and blont: ‘Because their shepherds are arrogant and ignorant’. ‘Beastly’ pertains to appetite, desire, corrupt conduct; blunt, to perception, insight, knowledge. Spenser will return to use of the ‘b’ alliteration for ‘blont’ in later poetry: e.g, ‘blunt and bad’ (FQ I.x.47).
note: do not know
110 note: A contraction of ‘ne wot’.
All for: because
111 cote: Sheep-cote, but also outer cloth garment. The double-sense evokes both the clergyman’s parish church (and thus its parishioners) and his clerical attire. See 104-35n. The word appears first at 40 and later at 206. Cf. Julye 162.
sticke not: do not hesitate
112 whote . . . tongue: Cf. Isa 6:6-7: ‘[the Lord’s] lippes are ful of indignacion, and his tongue is as a devouring fyre’ (also Isa 30:27). Cf. Rom 12:20: ‘Thou shalt heape coles of fyre on his head’ (also Prov 25:22).
graseth: feeds
114 casten . . . care: ‘Make too much of worldly concerns’.
115 deck her Dame: ‘Dress their wife or mistress’. The reference uses the Protestant convention of attacking Catholic priests for breaking their vows to target English Protestant clergy who abuse their flock, and perhaps those who sully the Protestant right of clergy to marry (Herford, Var 7: 359).
115 heyre: Cf. Maye 75-94.
116-119 For such . . . her crumenall: The images are, first, of chimneys that no longer smoke, a sign of lost hospitality; and, second, of well-fed ox taken out of their stalls, slaughtered, and converted into cash, a sign of agrarian commercialism (Lane 1993: 1-2).
116 encheason: E.K. Cf. Maye 147.
reeking: smoking
ligge: lie
119 crumenall: E.K. Evidently a Spenserian coinage. Cf. Henry More (1647): ‘Thus cram they their wide-mouth’d crumenall’ (Song of the Soul 3.19.8).
steads: farmsteads
121 Ylike . . . heads: Most directly, the many-headed Hydra, slain by Hercules (Ovid, Met 9.68-74), which could be allegorized as the falsehood of the multitude (Alciati 1551: 149), but also likely evoking the Beast of Rev 12.3-4 (see Lotspeich 1965: 71; SpE 41, 97, 223). To be used recurrently in FQ (e.g., I.viii.17 for Duessa’s seven-headed beast).
122-135 But they . . . the grosse: Refers to wealthy patrons, especially William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who imposed extortionate rents upon incumbents of ecclesiastical livings. Spenser’s own patron, the earl of Leicester, was also accused.
pricke: the bull’s-eye (in archery)
122 shooten . . . pricke: ‘Hit nearest to the point’. Diggon singles this abuse out as the one that deserves the most attention.
other: others
123 other . . . lick: Proverbial for appropriating the profits of someone else’s labors.
124 Bulles of Basan: Cf. Ps 22:12-13: ‘mightie bulles of Bashan have closed me about. They gape ypon me with their mouthes’ (Geneva gloss: ‘He meaneth, that his enemies were so fat, proude and cruel, that they were rather beastes then men’). Also Amos 4: 1: ‘Heare this worde, ye kine of Bashan . . . which oppresse the poore, and destroy the nedie’ (Geneva gloss on ‘kine’: ‘princes and governers’). The allusion is to powerful courtiers, such as Burghley (and perhaps Leicester).
124 brace: E.K.
mought little boote: would do little good
liker: likely
wagmoires: quagmires
130 overgrast: E.K. Likely, a Spenserian neologism (OED).
131 galage: E.K.
wind: draw in twisting movements
swink: struggle, work
of: off
leese: lose
135 the grosse: E.K.
136-139 thou speakest too plaine . . . nedes be endured: Hobbinol’s advice resembles the method of the poet himself, and evokes an era of intense Elizabethan censorship. The word ‘feyne’ was a cardinal term of poetics, meaning ‘To relate or represent in fiction; to fable’ (OED).
cleanly cover: conceal
forced: compelled; imposed upon
creepe: manage, get along
141-149 Sike as . . . and bent: Cf. Maye 126-9. For relevant biblical passages, cf. 2 Sam 12:1-9; Matt 7:15, 10:16; Luke 15:1-7; John 10. Also, cf. Chaucer, CT Physician 101-2.
141 Sike . . . sheepe: Cf. Petronius, Satyricon 58: qualis dominus, talis et servus (‘like master, like man’). Also cf. Jan 7; Julye 129-32.
143 But . . . choyce: ‘Unless he calls them when they wish to be called’.
yead: go; submit
had be better: would be better off to
149 All for they nould: ‘Because they refused to’.
149 buxome and bent: E.K.
leasing: lie
151 Saxon king: E.K.
153 nor in Christendome: E.K. The alliterative ring of ‘Kent’ and ‘Christendom’ ‘seems to have been traditional’ (Var 7: 361). Cf. Wyatt, ‘Mine Own John Poins’: ‘But here I am in Kent and Christendom, / Among the Muses where I read and rhyme’ (100-01).
154-161 But the fewer . . . knowe: A reference to the Jesuit Mission of the late 1570s (Greenlaw, Var 7: 360). Cf. Maye 174-305.
soth: truth
155 Foxes: Alludes both to Catholics and to crypto-Catholics within the English Church. Cf. Maye 219. For the paradigm of foxes and wolves, see Maye 174-305n.
gang: go; wise: manner
widely: at large
raungers: forest rangers, gamekeepers
159 great hunt: Generally, an organized fox hunt, but see E.K. for an allegorical reading of the political significance.
prolling: prowling
161 Enaunter: E.K.
161 inly knowe: ‘Known for what they are in truth’.
162 Sept 162: Or priue or pert] We resist the impulse to bring the phrase into accord with E.K.’s lemma in 1579, since Hobbinol’s ‘priue’ preserves the Chaucerian form (although Chaucer pairs priue or priuee with apert; see gl 65 n).
privie: private, secretive, clandestine; pert: open
162 Or privie or pert: ‘Whether clandestinely or openly’. Cf. E.K.
Bandogs: bloodhounds
163 Bandogs: Symbolizing law-enforcement officers.
164 thy Ball is a bold bigge curre: The phrase is odd, and has prompted debate. 1597 is first to upper-case 'ball', prompting early scholars to think that the word identifies the name of a dog. We follow the capitalization of 1597, which clarifies the wit of the lines: that the cur bears a name capturing his aggressive character: like a projectile, ‘Ball’ pierces the fur of the invading wolves. In The Muses ELizium (1630), Drayton presents the shepherd Melanthus sing (as part of a Spenserian pastoral singing contest), ‘Then Baull my cut-tayld Curre and I begin to play’ (195).
jolly: fine old
maytenaunce: bearing, deportment
171 Roffynn: E.K. at [171] and [180-225]. John Young (1534?-1605), Bishop of Rochester (Roffensis in Latin), was Master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge when Spenser was a student there, and he became Spenser’s patron in 1578 (see 176n; Hadfield 2012: 67-8, 114-8). Cf. Apr 21, where Young is referred to as ‘the Southerne shephearde’.
172-241 Say it on Diggon . . . at best: Diggon’s story of the shepherd Roffy and his dog Lowder, who work diligently to combat a wolf (dressed in sheep’s clothing) that attacks their sheep, functions topically to celebrate Bishop Young’s work at church reform against the threat of Catholicism in its many guises, while the dangers into which Lowder gets himself form a cautionary tale about the challenges of such reform. The particular occasion of Young’s vigilance has not been identified, but it probably involved the Jesuit Mission.
hight: means
172 hight: Pseudo-archaic; OED lists various meanings used only by Spenser.
him betight: happen to him
merciable: merciful
174 merciable: Medievalism.
convenable: consistent
selfe: own
176 Colin clout: E.K. September is the only ecclesiastical eclogue to refer to Spenser’s chief persona.
177 Ah . . . my joye: Cf. Apr 9-28, June 49-51.
178-179 Shepheards . . . carefully theyr flocks tend: Throughout SC, the gold standard of pastoral conduct.
180-225 Thilke same . . . same even: E.K.
marke: draw attention to
180 Thilk . . . marke: ‘This same shepherd I may well note’.
and if but: if only
184-225 Whilome there . . . same even: Mantuan, Eclogues 9.143-6 serves as a literary template for Spenser’s Reformation allegory: Ipse homines . . . / saepe lupi effigiem moresque assumere vidi / inque suum saevire gregem multaque madere / caede sui pecoris. (‘I myself have often seen men . . . assume the shape and ways of a wolf and rage among their own flocks, drenching themselves with the slaughter of their sheep’; trans. Piepho). For the underlying biblical text, see Matt 7:15: ‘Beware of false prophetes, which come to you in shepes clothing, but inwardely they are ravening wolves’.
184 wonned: E.K.
185 gulfe: The ‘gulf’ of his stomach, or a voracious appetite.
repayre: go
187 Welkin: E.K.
188 Ycladde in clothing of seely sheepe: The language self-consciously evokes allegory, as does that of 215.
ball: bawl
hote: was called
194 Lowder: A common name for a shepherd’s dog.
198 weanell wast: E.K.
practise: stratagem
203 Argus: Cf. Ovid, Met 1.624-7; Julye 154, Oct 31-2.
counterfect: counterfeit
206 cote: Here, ‘coat’, a reference to Catholic vestments. Cf. 40, 106, as well as 216.
affraye: frighten
wesand: windpipe
widder: wider
211 hidder and shidder: E.K. More specifically, young male and female sheep (between eight or nine months old and their first shearing).
cond: learned
215 And eke . . . call: Cf. John 10:3-5. See 188n.
219-225 The dog his maisters voice . . . same even: A variation on the scene depicted on Willye’s mazer at Aug 31-4: instead of a shepherd saving his lamb from the jaws of a wolf, a shepherd saves his dog, who himself has failed to save his sheep from a wolf.
weene: think
224 steven: E.K.
shield: forbid
All for: because
devoyr: duty
227 belive: E.K.
228-235 If sike . . . to gard: Cf. Thomas Cartwright, Replye to an Answer, p. 68: ‘And therefore we muste walke in those wayes that God hathe appoynted, to bring them to saluation, whych is to feede them continually, and watche ouer them so long as they are in danger of hunger, in danger of wolues, in danger of the ennemyes, within and without, which is so long as the church is heere vpon the earth. Upon all whych things I conclude, that the residence of the pastor is necessary, and to dout whether the pastor ought to be resident amongst his flocke is to doubt whether the watchman should be in hys tower . . . or the shepheard amongst hys flocke, especially where the sheepe are continually in danger of wolues, as in the land of Jewrie, from whence thys similitude or manner of speache was taken where they watched their flockes night and day’.
behold: watch; restrain
230 watchfulnesse: Cf. Matt 24:42: ‘Wake therefore: for ye knowe not what houre your master wil come’.
sittes not: it is not appropriate to
232 with shepheard sittes not playe: Makes explicit the danger of ‘playe’ (the opposite of ‘heed and watchfulness’ [230]), especially in Maye (see 179n).
ward: guardianship
236-241 Ah Diggon . . . at best: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.38: Omne opus, atque labor vult intervalla (‘Each task and labor seeks a respite’); Maye 149-57. Hobbinol’s retort to Diggon’s call for watchfulness both characterizes his commitment to pastoral retreat and expresses a genuine difficulty in a shepherd’s pastoral care. Hobbinol’s ‘“philosophy of moderation” is the “central doctrine” of the Calender’ (Hume 1984: 38, citing H.S.V. Jones and H.D. Smith).
straight: strict
237 waite: Cf. Luke 12:36: ‘like unto men that wait for their master [God]’.
238 fleshe: Cf. Matt 26:41: ‘the spirit in dede is readie, but the flesh is weake’.
240-241 What ever . . . at best: E.K.
chaungeable rest: rest from time to time
243 forhaile: E.K.
244-245 What shall . . . to amend?: See Mantuan, Eclogues 9.179: Quid faciam? Quo me vertam? (‘What should I do? Where should I turn?’; trans. Piepho). Diggon’s expression of helplessness when faced with the difficulty of the pastoral ideal of watchfulness and his call for ‘counsell’ (246) evoke an important Elizabethan principle of government—the need to counsel the monarch—and gestures to a salient role of the poet who writes a poem within a monarchy.
246-247 Ah good . . . my decaye: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.32: Res est consiliis secura fidelibus uti (‘It is a deed free from care to accept trustworthy advice’; trans. Piepho).
haplesse: unfortunate
hent: caught
250-257 Nethelesse . . . his head: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 9.13-17: Antiqui potes haec mea tecta subire / iure sodalitii. Sunt hic mihi pauperis agri / iugera pauca meae vix sufficientia vitae; / quidquid id est commune puta. Tibi forsitan ulla / prospera sors aderit (‘By the right of our fellowship of old, you may enter my house here. My few acres of poor land yield me barely enough for my living. Yet such as it is, consider it yours. Perhaps some favorable destiny will come to you’; trans. Piepho). Cf. also Boccaccio, Eclogues 1.22-5, 3.10, 4.1-12, 9.195-8. Cf. the conclusion of Virgil, Ecl 1.79-81 (Lindheim 1990: 2).
froward: contrary
availe: lower
256 vetchy: E.K.
257 Sept 257: his] A difficult crux. Fortune is proverbially female, but five of the seven witnesses collated read ‘his’ and we find no other variants within inner forme K. Since correction usually (but not always) takes place early in printing, our sample (admittedly small and, therefore, quite possibly not representative) loosely suggests a correction of ‘her’ to ‘his’. A somewhat more powerful argument for the reading adopted here is that it is the lectio difficilior: that Fortune is traditionally figured female might explain compositorial adjustment from ‘his’ to ‘her’ in resistance to copy or independent from it, whereas it is difficult to imagine adjusting from ‘her’ to ‘his’ without the warrant of copy.
lite: light upon, encounter
261 Inopem . . . fecit: ‘Plenty made me poor’. From Ovid, Met 3.466. Cf. June 52. In Davy Dicars Dreame, Churchyard includes the phrase ‘plenty please the poore’ (the poem is reprinted in Lucan 2002: 161).
7 beades for prayers: Refers to Catholic prayer rituals.
usurped of: used by
11-12 Lidgate . . . Chaucer: For example, cf. Lydgate, Falls of Princes 6, epigraph 2; Chaucer, Rom 4552.
15 Sept gl 15: Thrise] We emend to bring E.K.’s lemma into accord with both the text of the eclogue and the logic of E.K.’s gloss.
17 Northernly: Northern, Scots.
27 Debes ludibrium ventis: See Horace, Odes 1.14.15-6: Tu, nisi ventis / debes ludibrium, cave (‘Unless you are to become a plaything of the winds, take care!’).
28 Lorne: Cf. Jan 62, Apr [4].
29 Soote: A mis-gloss, since the word does not appear in September. The same gloss appears correctly at Apr [111].
65 Sept gl 65: Priue or pert] We emend to align E.K.’s lemma both with the text of the eclogue and with the Chaucerian sources. Although Chaucer uses privily with some frequency, the form he pairs with pert or apert is prive or privy; see CT Wife 1114 and 1136, Fame 717, and the pseudo-Chaucerian La Belle Dame sans Mercy 174. The pairing reflects a legal formula to indicate deeds both covert and overt. Note that, despite the lemma, E.K. glosses only ‘pert’.
32 Mantuane: Cf. Eclogues 6.8-9: Omne bonum praesens minus est; sperata videntur / magna, velut maius reddit distantia lumen (‘Every good thing, when it comes, is less than it seemed. Things hoped for seem great, just as distance makes a reflected light seem greater than it is’; trans. Piepho).
33 Per Syncopen: ‘By way of syncope’ (the abbreviation of a word by omitting internal letters). However, E.K.’s explanation is incorrect: ‘emprise’ and ‘enterprise’ are distinct words.
35 Trode: Cf. Julye 14, which E.K. does not gloss.
50-51 year . . . Lorde: Either a proofreading mistake or E.K.’s failure to remember the dates, which should appear but do not; Edgar reigned 959-75. For an early modern account of Edgar’s rule, cf. Holinshed, Chronicles 1.6.23-4.694-7.
52 proper policie: Edgar required three hundred wolves per year from the King of Wales, which wiped out their population.
59 Ethelbert: King of Kent, who welcomed St. Augustine in 597 and then converted to Christianity. Ethelbert later established the religion at Canterbury, but he did not impose it on his subjects. Another Ethelbert was both King of Wessex and King of Kent (855-60); his reign was marked by invasions from the Dutch. E.K.’s explanation is spurious.
62 Great hunt: Specifically, the attack against Catholics.
65 Chaucer: Cf. CT Wife 1114, although perhaps the pseudo-Chaucerian La Belle Dame sans Mercy 173-5: ‘In her failed nothing, that I coud gesse / One wise nor other, priuie noe perte / A garrison she was, of all goodlinesse’. The 1532 and 1561 Chaucer editions read ‘priuie nor perte’.
66 Roffy: E.K. is mistaken, as a Raffy Lyonnois is mentioned instead in Marot, Eglogue de Mme Loyse de Savoye 42. Spenser adapts the name but changes the character.
74 Musarum Lachyrmæ: Harvey’s Smithus, vel Musarum Lachrymae (1578) eulogizes Sir Thomas Smith (died 1577), as each of the Nine Muses sings a lament, a format Spenser adapts in Teares. For Smith, cf. Jan [10].
74-78 Gratulatiuonum Valdinensium . . . in Hertfordshire: While on progress in the summer of 1578, Queen Elizabeth visited Audley End not far from Cambridge, where Harvey presented to her the manuscript of his Latin poem in four books, Gratulationes Valdinenses (‘Joyful Greetings from Saffron Walden’). The title records his birthplace, also nearby, and the work consists of a collection of poems to Elizabeth and five important courtiers, including Burghley, Leicester, and Sidney. Later, Harvey presented the printed version to Elizabeth at the home of his friend Arthur Capel, Hadham Hall, Hertfordshire.
80 Tyrannomastix: Not extant.
80 Ode Natalitia: Published in 1575 to commemorate the death (and celebrate the achievement) of Peter Ramus the leading rhetorician of his day, in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1572). Harvey was a leading Ramist at Cambridge (for details, see Introduction to Theatre).
80 Rameidos: Not extant, but the title suggests a celebration of Ramus’ life and work.
81 Philomusus: Not extant, but Harvey calls the work ‘Schollers Love’; see Letters 2.553 and n; see also Stern 1979: 50-3.
81 divine Anticosmopolita: Evidently an epic celebration of the queen’s reign but likely never completed; see Letters, Introduction, and Letter 2, 561-3 and n. Harvey’s references to these titles suggest that some or all existed as real works either in manuscript or in idea. Thus the commonly iterated idea that these works, and others of Spenser mentioned in SC and elsewhere, such as Dying Pellican and Nine Comedies, did not exist, will not stand in any simple way; see SpE 737-8.
coloure: disguise
93-94 Quod . . .est: ‘That which lacks its alternations of repose will not endure’ (Ovid, Heroides 4.89).
96 Vetchie: ‘Vetch’ was often used of cornfield weeds such as tares; E.K.’s gloss, ‘of Pease strawe’, refers to pea-stalks, commonly used for fodder.
105 This poesie . . . much used of the author: For evidence, see note on the Emblem. E.K.’s comment forms an important directive for reading the Narcissus myth as central to the Spenser canon (see C. Edwards 1977).

As the only eclogue in The Shepheardes Calender formally on ‘the state of Poete’ (97), October is striking as one of the most complex (cf. Lane 1995: 158). The pastoral dialogue here is indeed challenging, as two shepherds from previous eclogues, the younger Cuddie (Februarie, August), and the older Piers (Maye), debate the highest stakes for poetry in 1570s England: the ‘place’ of ‘pierlesse Poesye’ both in ‘Princes pallace’ (79-80) and in ‘Heaven’ (54, 60, 84).

As with June, the difficulty results from failed, or obscure, narrative transitions among the topics that the shepherds discuss. These topics may be divided into four main parts. 1) In lines 1-36, Cuddie complains that he has written poetry to delight the youth but failed to secure the material gain required to continue writing, while Piers reminds him that the poet should strive for ‘glory’ rather than ‘gayne’ (20): that Cuddie should use poetic delight for ethical education, on the model of Orpheus’s rescue of his wife Eurydice from Hades--a proposal that Cuddie rejects: ‘But who rewards him ere the more for thy’ (33). 2) In lines 37-78, Piers suggests that if Cuddie really wants to secure ‘reward’ he should write the kinds of poetry that meet the needs of powerful patrons: he should turn from pastoral to epic but also (as June has intimated) he should include love lyric as a mediating form. This advice reminds Cuddie of the ‘Romish Tityrus’ (55), Virgil, who secured patronage from Maecenas to pursue a career of pastoral, georgic, and epic in service of Augustan Rome--a model, Cuddie adds, that no longer applies in England, where patronage, heroism, and poetic achievement are absent. 3) In lines 79-97, Piers thus raises the central question about the place of poetry at court, and suggests that Cuddie may need to write poetry that ‘flye[s] backe to heaven apace’ (84). This final advice prompts Cuddie to recall Colin Clout’s potential to complete such a ‘famous flight’ (88), if Colin’s love for Rosalind did not ground him. Cuddie’s recollection, nonetheless, leads Piers to identify Colin as a model for such a glorious ascent. 4) In lines 98-120, Cuddie then rejects the serene possibility of high flight on the wings of love—‘All otherwise the state of Poet stands’ (97)—and outlines a more violent model for poetic loftiness, a Horatian reliance on wine to write ‘stage’ tragedy (112), even though Cuddie concludes by admitting his own inability to do so. At the end, Piers offers Cuddie consolation by promising to award him a ‘Kidde’ (120).

In these complex modulations, Spenser represents three basic career models available to the patron-seeking poet in mid-Elizabethan England: amateur; professional; laureate (Helgerson 1983). Cuddie’s youthful poetic model of the poet delighting his audience with pleasant ditties corresponds to an amateur model, because he sees poetry as merely a pastime. Cuddie’s dramatic model, in which tragedy allows the poet to ‘compasse weightye prise’ (103), corresponds to the professional, who writes primarily to make a living. And Cuddie’s reference to Virgil’s career corresponds to the laureate model, in which the poet serves the nation in the context of eternity: ‘So as the Heavens did quake his verse to here’ (60). Yet Piers’ insertion of love poetry into the laureate model (presumably as a substitute for georgic, which did not yet exist in England [A. Fowler 1982: 240]) is innovative, showing Spenser finding a ‘place’ for the Petrarchan lyric in the career of the aspiring poet: ‘Of love and lustihead tho mayst thou sing, . . . / So mought our Cuddies name to Heaven sownde’ (50, 54). Moreover, Piers’ suggestion that the poet should return to heaven when he fails to find a place in ‘Princes pallace’ may indicate that Spenser himself envisions an Augustinian-based hymn as an endpoint for the poet’s career. Thus the dialogue dilates on the most influential classical model of a literary career available to English poets and shows Spenser adapting Virgil in light of both an Augustinian Christianity and Petrarchism. Yet the shepherds’ dialogic pattern of proposal and rejection leaves the state of poet open-ended.

Accordingly, October ‘explores the stark contrast’ between ‘the material needs of the poet’ and ‘the sublime aspirations of poetry’ (McCabe 1999: 559). For all the shepherds’ worldly discussion of practicality, career, and money, they recurrently turn to a heighted discourse of poetic sublimity—a discourse that also characterizes the glossarial language of E.K. Spenser here taps into the late sixteenth-century experimentation with four principal forms of ‘aesthetic extremes’: ‘wonder’, ‘Christian ecstasy’, Neoplatonic ‘furor’, and the ‘sublime’ (Sedley 2005: 9, 157n17). Longinus, whose On Sublimity saw seven continental editions published before 1579 (Weinberg 1950), including two copies of the Portus edition in a 1578 Cambridge bookshop (Leedham-Green, personal communication), links sublimity with all three aesthetic extremes, but shows the sublime to be distinctive for its commitment to confusion, ignorance, and breakdown: ‘Sublimity tears everything up like a whirlwind’ (1.4, in Russell and Winterbottom 1972: 144). Thus this heightened poetics proceeds through metaphors of the whirlwind but also of earth-quaking lightning; it locates poetic excellence in a lofty style of poetry; it valorizes the emotions of rapture and rage, beyond reason, intoxicated; and it makes both poet and audience gods, not simply citizens (see Introduction). October’s discourse recurrently expresses the sublime, which Longinus finds in Plato but which cannot be equated with Platonism (or Neoplatonism) because of its willingness to enter into the dangerous space of irrationality: e.g., in the dialogue, such language as ‘soule of sence bereave . . . quake his verse to here . . . climbe so hie . . . the ryme should rage . . . troublous tydes’; and, in E.K.’s gloss, ‘make men immortall . . . astonied and as it were ravished . . . ravished with Poeticall furie’. E.K.’s gloss on Cuddie’s emblem summarizes the sublime succinctly, from Longinus to Kant to Lyotard: ‘Poetry is a divine instinct and unnatural rage passing the reache of comen reason’.

Spenser’s formal source-texts for October are the two cited by E.K., Theocritus’ Idylls 16, a pastoral complaint about the niggardliness of the tyrant Ptolemy; and Mantuan’s Eclogues 5, a dialogue about the difficulty of writing poetry in an age devoid of patrons, heroes, and successful poets. Specifically, Spenser may depend on Barclay’s adaptation of Mantuan’s eclogue, published in 1570 in Barclay’s posthumous Certain Eclogues (although written earlier in the sixteenth century), and Turbervile’s translation of Mantuan in 1567 (cf. Hoffman 1977: 11-29). Yet the passages on Virgil’s career, Neoplatonic love, Horatian wine, and Senecan tragedy (‘lavish cups and thriftie bittes of meate’ [105]) shows Spenser suturing pastoral to a wide ‘webbe’ (102) of literary and philosophical intertexts.

Within such a web, where is the ‘place’ of Edmund Spenser? Is October a ‘personal manifesto, a declaration of his own aims’ (Renwick, Var 7: 374), a ‘climactic hymn to poetry’ (King 1986: 397), and the ‘articulation of . . . a theory . . . [that] combines neoplatonism and traditional Horatianism along with a Christian emphasis on divine inspiration’ (Waller 1993: 44)—in all of which the author can be seen to identify with Piers and with E.K? Or does the author side more with Cuddie and his fraught social embeddedness, disparaging Piers’ Neoplatonic transcendence as escapist (Lane 1995: 158-67), since the Spenserian gold standard surely lies in a ‘poetry of virtuous action-in-the-world’ (Montrose 1979: 49)? Alternatively, does Spenser critique both Piers and Cuddie, who share a naïve ‘golden-age sensibility’: ‘Cuddie withdraws in defeat while Piers converts to a gesture of escape’ (Berger 1988: 314)? Finally, then, does Spenser present the poet as transcendent or contingent, writing for this world or the next, promoting citizenship or godhood? October’s potency may lie in its complex use of pastoral dialogue to represent this very question.

A version of the question arises in the woodcut, indicating once again how the complexity of the poet either baffled the eye of the artisan or liberated it. Standing in the foreground closest to the center is a figure marked as a wise and successful older poet: he is bearded, wears a garland, and holds out a panpipe, his sheep at his feet. To his right is a younger shepherd with one arm reaching out and the other holding a crook, his sheep also near him. Behind the younger shepherd, an indistinct hill looms on the horizon, a small tree at its base, while behind the older shepherd are two scenes: in the first, a figure walks up the steps of an imposing edifice that is part temple and part palace, and is overlooked by a leafy tree; and in the second, to the left, another figure walks toward a group of people standing beside the building. Most directly, ‘The woodcut depicts the Virgilian paradigm by showing an aged Piers as Virgil crowned with laurel and offering Cuddie the pastoral oaten reeds. On a hill behind Piers-Virgil is an empty classical temple and an Italianate palace (cf. “Princes palace,” 80 and 81). Several figures admire the temple, but one moves resolutely toward it and another climbs its steps. . . . Cuddie rejects Piers’s offer by pointing out the figure approaching the temple. . . . Obviously, the figure ascending to the temple of fame is Colin’ (Cain in Oram 1989: 167-8; see Luborsky 1981: 36-9; Brooks-Davies 1995: 158). Yet the shepherd wearing the laurel garland may also be Cuddie, since E.K. identifies him as ‘the perfecte paterne of a Poete’ (Arg), one who has ‘turned his back on the halls of power. . . , [and who] retains the crown of laurels, the sign of public status and influence’ (Lane 1995: 163, 166, 228n37). Irrespective of which figure is which, it remains difficult to determine whether the laurel poet supports or rejects a public poetry of epic in favor of a private poetry of pastoral: is the laurel poet pointing the way to the Virgilian model or turning away from it (cf. McCabe 1999: 559)?

As if to highlight the complexities of both the woodcut and the dialogue, October’s verse form remains paradoxically clear and simple. Cuddie and Piers, for all their differences, share a six-line stanza adapted from Januarye, now rhyming abbaba.

The achievement of October has long rivaled that other pinnacle of Spenserian pastoral authorship, November, which E.K. finds ‘farre passing . . . all other the Eglogues of this booke’ (Nov Arg). Yet in his October gloss, E.K. says that the ‘style’ in this tenth eclogue is ‘more loftye then the rest’ (for agreements, see Craik, Var 7: 366; Herford, Var 7: 368; Cory, Var 7: 369). Rather than solve the problem of the poet’s ‘place’ in the world, October presents a verse prism that refracts it. In the end, Spenser represents, rather than reveals, the sublime ‘state’ of poetic truth in 1570s England.

1 the perfecte paterne of a Poete: A key phrase, resonantly alliterative, on the central topic both of October and SC (cf. Montrose 1979). Once a variant of ‘patron’, the word ‘paterne’ suggests both a ‘shape’ and a ‘model’ (OED)—a shape with a specific design and a model to be imitated because it is worthy (OED)—while ‘perfect’ records the truth-value of the exemplar. E.K. sees the perfect pattern in a person, a ‘Poete’, suggesting that Cuddie is both an excellent poet and worthy of emulation by others. E.K.’s identification of Cuddie as a perfect pattern of a poet contradicts the eclogue itself, for Cuddie’s presence here (and throughout SC) evokes a popular youthful poet of misguided ambitions--a model for no one. E.K. was the first to speculate on who Cuddie represents: ‘I doubte whether by Cuddie be specified the authour selfe . . . some doubt that the persons be different’ ([1]). As such, Cuddie functions as a surrogate for both Spenser and Colin (Var 7: 374-6): ‘Through this complex presentational device, Cuddie is made to stand in relation to Colin as Colin stands to [Spenser]’ (McCabe 1999: 559).
2 state and studies: ‘Standing and learning’; ‘condition and education’.
2-3 complayneth of the contempte of Poetrie: Cuddie’s complaint becomes a staple of English Renaissance literary criticism, as illustrated by Philip Sidney’s Defence.
5 so worthy and commendable an arte: This particular ‘defense of poetry’ is another staple of contemporary criticism. October both defends poetry and carries out a dialogue on its defense.
5-6 rather no arte, but a divine gift: Another major topic of literary criticism, whether poets are born or made. E.K.’s self-correction rehearses the debate. His subsequent phrasing records the model that most resembles Spenser’s: ‘not to bee gotten by laboure and learning, but adorned with both’. E.K. distinguishes between the poet as vates or ‘prophet’ and the poet as craftsman or ‘maker’. Cf. Sidney, Defence 252-64.
6 heavenly instinct: An aptitude inspired by heaven.
8 νθουσιασμός: Gr enthusiasmos, enthusiasm, inspiration, possession by a divinity (literally, a breathing into).
10 the English Poete: The only reference to this lost work; if it ever existed, it would have been the first known treatise on poetics in English. E.K.’s Argument suggests the terms of the treatise and its direction: a defense of the English poet—and English poetry—that responds to contemporary indictments by relying on classical precedents and by featuring the English poet as both divinely inspired and hard-working, at once a vates and a maker.
11 publish: At this time, the word meant ‘make public’ or ‘promulgate’, but it was acquiring the modern sense of ‘appear in print’ (OED), a sense reinforced here through the word ‘booke’.
1.0 PIERCE: See Maye Arg, where Piers represents a progressive Protestant; here he is a defender of the poet (headnote). The name is variously spelled Pierce, Piers, even Pires: ‘Uniquely in SC, his name is metamorphic. . . : as Piers he is the Protestant rock (with hints of Pieria, home of the Muses); as Pierce and Pires he is piercingly perceptive (pire = peer closely, scrutinize . . . )’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 159).
1.0 CUDDIE: For notes on this name, see Februarie, August. Of all shepherds in SC, Cuddie comes closest to representing the traditional poet writing in 1570s England—an ‘amateur’ with the ambitions of a ‘professional’—from which Spenser will invent the modern conception of the ‘laureate’ (see headnote).
1-78 Cuddie . . . better melodie: In the first half of the dialogue, Spenser ‘imitates’ Mantuan, Eclogues 5, a debate between a younger shepherd, Candidus, and an older patron, Silvanus. In particular, Spenser borrows three topics from Mantuan, as well as from Barclay’s adaptation: ‘the poverty of poets because of niggardly patrons; the absence of heroic figures about whom poets can write inspired poetry; and the difficulty of finding a mode appropriate to the historical moment. . . . Spenser, Mantuan, and Barclay . . . derive a model relationship between poet, patron, and historical moment from Virgil’s poetic progression under Maecenas’ (Hoffman 1977: 16). In keeping with Renaissance theories of imitation, Spenser both follows Mantuan and Barclay and radically changes them, as registered in notes below. In general, where Mantuan and Barclay fixate on the poet’s sour complaint against poverty, Spenser devotes much of his attention to the high art of poetry.
1-5 Cuddie . . . bydding base: E.K. Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.1-5, from which Spenser draws ‘the motif of soporific heaviness’ (Hoffman 1977: 15). Where Silvanus accuses a sleepy Candidus of abandoning his once vital art and his community, Piers emphasizes the effect of the poet’s sleepiness on his community.
heavye: downcast
chace: pursue, run, hasten
2 chace: Often used of driving cattle or sheep.
3 Phœbus race: ‘Course of the sun’, i.e., a day. Phoebus Apollo is the god of poetry, and ‘race’ is the eclogue’s first metaphor of competition (see 5n).
4 Whilome: E.K.
5 bydding base: In the game of prisoner’s base, ‘bid the base’ refers to one player challenging another to run from home base. Here the game functions as a metaphor for a youthful singing contest, as its listing with ‘rymes’ and ‘ridles’ indicates and as its performance by ‘laddes’ suggests.
12-7 Piers, I have pyped . . . her straine: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.21-37. (See 11n.)
erst: until recently
8 Oten reedes: E.K.
spared: saved up
pleasaunce: frivolity
11 Grashopper: Cf. Aesop, Fables no. 336, for the provident ant and the grasshopper who sings all summer only to starve in winter.
straine: constrain, put pressure on
12 ligge so layd: E.K.
13-18 The dapper ditties . . . can arise: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.55-7, which lacks Cuddie’s adept representation of an amateur art of poetry as a toy of youth.
ditties: songs
13 dapper ditties: E.K. The phrase offers a resonant description of Cuddie’s art, hinting at why he has failed to secure patronage; his subsequent language adds detail: he has aimed to ‘feede youthes fancie’ (cater to the adolescent imagination) by ‘Delight[ing them] . . . much’ with ‘pleasure’. Cf. Drayton, Shepherds Garland, Eclogue 3.10: ‘tune thy reede to dapper virelayes’.
14 fry: E.K.
15 what . . . thy?: ‘How does that better me?’
15 bett: Cf. Chaucer, CT Man of Law 114: ‘Bet is to dyen than have indigence’.
sclender prise: meager reward
17 I . . . flye: ‘I flush out the birds while others catch them’.
19-30 Cuddie, the prayse . . . hound did tame: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.39-80, in which Silvanus claims that the gods have given him wealth and Candidus the gift of poetry, with Candidus retorting that he just wants to eat. In contrast, Piers outlines a full ethical theory of poetry and cites Orpheus as a model (see notes below).
19-20 price . . . gayne: Cf. 1 Cor 9:24-5: ‘Knowe ye not, that they which runne in a race, runne all, yet one receiveth the price? so runne, that ye may obteine. And everie man that proveth masteries, absteineth from all things: and they do it to obteine a corruptible crown: but we for an uncorruptible’; 1 Pet 5:4: ‘And when the chief shepherd shal appeare, ye shall receive an incorruptible crowne of glorie’.
price: reward
21-24 to restraine . . . trayned willes entice: An evocation of poetry’s moral function, explaining why poetry is honorable: it uses counsel to restrain loose desire; and it unlooses desire only to rein it in. For Piers, the goal of poetry is to ‘trayne’ the ‘will’ of ‘lawlesse youth’.
21 to restraine: E.K.
22 lust: Desire, shading into sexual desire.
pricke: spur
23 pleasaunce . . . vaine: ‘The delight your talent or style can give’. For the Horatian dictum of utile dulci (poetic moral utility through delight), see Ars Poetica 343.
trayned: drawn along, controlled
frame: order
routes: crowds
cleave: cling
Seemeth: it seems that
27 sence bereave: E.K. Piers contradicts his speech at 21-4, where he claims that poetry is honorable because it is a rational and ethical force in society. For the first time in October, the unsettling language of the sublime arrests the civilizing view of the poet. In his gloss, E.K. repeats Piers’ phrase, highlighting a kinship between the two figures.
28-30 All as . . . did tame: E.K. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is a ‘myth of the power of poetry over the law of death’ (Lotspeich, Var 7: 381). Key versions of the myth appear in Georgics 4.453-527, Culex 268-95 (which Spenser translates at VG 449-80); and Ovid, Met 10.1-77. Piers neglects to mention that Orpheus fails to rescue his wife from Hades; but there is a technical accuracy to what Piers says, since Orpheus does succeed in charming Pluto and Proserpine: only when the musician breaks the divine decree not to look back at his wife (‘withouten leave’) does he lose her for good. Spenser may ‘pointedly and deliberately reject . . . Virgil’s innovation [of featuring Orpheus’ failure] and look beyond him to the earlier state of the myth’, according to which Orpheus succeeds in recovering Eurydice (Pugh 2016: 36). Even so, Spenser’s representation is fraught with ill omen via ‘balefull’ and ‘hellish’. He will go on to refer to the Orpheus myth throughout his poetry (e.g., Time 332-3; Ep 16; FQ IV.ii.1; HL 234-5). On the myth generally, see Segal 1989. On the myth in Spenser, see Cain 1971; Loewenstein 1986; P. Cheney 1993.
All: just
29 balefull bowre: ‘A perilous abode’ (i.e., the underworld), gesturing to Pluto’s marriage to Proserpina, which began when the god abducted her while she was gathering flowers on earth (Ovid, Fasti 4.417-54, Met 5.385-408).
30 hellish hound: Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hades, tamed by Orpheus’ song as the musician takes Eurydice out of the underworld.
31-32 So praysen babes . . . blazing eye: E.K. ‘Spenser had his Mantuan by him as he wrote’, although the conceit derives from Juvenal, Satires 7.30-2 (Renwick, Var 7: 382). Like the tale of Orpheus, this is a myth about the origin of poetry: Mercury beguiles Argus by playing ‘an oaten reed’ and then narrating the reed’s origins in the story of Pan pursuing Syrinx (Ovid, Met 1.568-747). For Argus, see Julye 154, Sept 203. (For Pan and Syrinx, see Aprill 50-1, 91-4.)
traine: tail
ere: ever, at all
thy: that
sheddeth: dissipate, pours forth
55.0 Oct 37-40: clowne: . . . dust, . . . giusts. . . . crowne,] Although Walter Scott imitates it (presumably from instances in FQ), 1581 is plainly baffled by what seems to be an unprecendented spelling of jousts. As for the misleading punctuation of 1579, which 1597 slightly ameliorates, it can be simply relieved by swapping the punctuation at the ends of lines 37 and 38 and of lines 39 and 40, as we have done.
37-42 Abandon . . . browne: For the turn from pastoral to epic, cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.126-8. Marlowe notably imitates Spenser’s passage in the prologue to 1 Tamburlaine (Bakeless 1964: 1:208; P. Cheney 1997: 118-21).
37 base and viler clowne: ‘Low-class, wretched rustic’.
giusts: jousts
39 Mars: The epic subject of Homer’s Iliad, but especially Virgil’s Aen 1.1: Arma virumque cano (‘Arms and the man I sing’).
weld: bear, wear
awful: awesome
doubted: redoubted, dreaded
41 woundlesse armour: E.K.
unbruzed: undented
42 helmes unbruzed: Spenser reprises the image in the bruised arms of the Redcrosse Knight at FQ I.i.3. Shakespeare imitates Spenser: ‘bruised helmet’ (Henry V 5.Prologue.18); cf. Rape of Lucrece 110: ‘With bruised arms and wreaths of victory’ (110); Richard III 1.1.6: ‘Our bruised arms hung up for monuments’.
display: stretch out
43 display: E.K.
43 fluttryng: ‘Of birds. . . : To move or flap the wings rapidly without flying . . . or hang upon wing in the air’ (OED), citing as its first sixteenth-century example ‘1535 Bible (Coverdale) Isa. xxi. A, ‘Like as byrdes flotre aboute their nestes.’ The biblical passage suggests that the bird fluttering its wings and stretching itself over its nest is the Muse hatching her poem. See 44n.
44 from East to West: The Roman ‘translation of learning and empire’ (translatio studii et imperii), extended to Elizabethan imperialism, which Piers sees as the subject of epic (Upton, Var 7: 382). The concept of ‘from East to West’ will recur in Spenser’s poetry (e.g., FQ I.i.5.5). Cf. Marlowe, 1 Tamburlaine: ‘So from the East unto the furthest West / Shall Tamburlaine extend his puissant arm’ (3.3.246-7).
45-48 Whither thou list . . . did bring: Piers identifies two possible subjects for the epic poem that he advises Cuddie to write: ‘Elisa’, Spenser’s figure for Queen Elizabeth; and Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (named by E.K. at [47]), Spenser’s own patron.
45 rest: settle upon as a subject
45 Elisa: Cf. Apr 33.
46 bigger . . . sing: Sing in a loftier style. A song celebrating Leicester would be ‘bigger’ than one celebrating Elizabeth perhaps because she is not a military figure; it may also reflect Leicester’s penchant for militarism.
Advaunce: put forward, praise
47 the worthy: E.K. For Spenser, the word would have had both aristocratic and heroic associations (cf. OED), an apt epithet for Leicester; it also evokes the Nine Worthies.
48 white beare: The Dudley crest displayed a bear chained to an uprooted tree stump (‘stake’).
49-54 And when the stubborne stroke . . . Heaven sownde: Piers inserts into the Virgilian turn from pastoral to epic the genre of love poetry, substituting it for the mediating genre of georgic, (see headnote). As 53 reveals, Spenser imagines ‘Elisa’ to be a fit subject of love poetry. That Piers considers such verse an integral part of a career linking pastoral to epic is clear from line 54, which serves as conclusion to the larger passage (37-54): ‘So mought our Cuddies name to Heaven sownde’ (see note below). Spenser’s insertion of love lyric into the poet’s career has no basis in either Mantuan or Barclay (cf. Renwick, Var 7: 384). Spenser might have taken a hint from Sannazaro’s Arcadia (Nash 1966: chapter 7, pp. 74-5), where ‘Sannazaro is to move on [after writing pastoral] to an intermediate kind of poetry, and thence to heroic verse’--‘Perhaps his Ovidian imitation, Salices, was part of a projected series of Latin elegiacs celebrating Fauns and Nymphs’ (Nash 1966: 74n).
stounds: blows; strums
49 stubborne strokes of stronger stounds: Spenser does not specify what might cause the poet to turn to love poetry as a respite from epic—except the potency of desire itself.
tenor: tautness
50 Has . . . string: E.K. Spenser will re-use the image of the relaxed strings of a lyre at FQ I.xi.7.7-8; HHL 13-14.
lustihead: delight, vigor, lustfulness
51 love and lustihead: A metonym for Petrarchan verse, evoking the subject of erotic poetry, sexual desire, and its goal, pleasure.
52 And carrol . . . rownde: E.K. Cf. P. Fletcher, Piscatorie. Ecolgue 2.5: ‘And carol lowd of love, and love’s delight’.
All: although
53 ring: E.K.
54 So mought our Cuddies name to Heaven sownde: Represents the link between poetic fame and Christian glory, the reputation of the poet reaching the kingdom of God. See Virgil, Ecl 9.27-9, for a classical analogue: Vare, tuum nomen . . . cantantes sublime fervent ad sidera cynci [‘Varus, thy name . . . singing swans shall bear aloft to the stars’]; see also Aen 1.379.
55-60 Indeede, the Romish . . . here: E.K. Virgil’s generic progression from pastoral (Eclogues) through georgic (Georgics) to epic (Aeneid) first appears in a four-line verse prefacing the Aeneid since Roman times: ‘I am he who formerly tuned my song on a slender reed, then, leaving the woodland, compelled the neighboring fields to obey the husbandman, however grasping, a work pleasing to farmers: but now I turn to Mars [war]’. These lines established a paradigm for the poetic career. Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.86-8, perhaps the first European pastoral recording the Virgilian career: Tityrus (ut fama est) sub Maecenate vetusto / rura, boves et agros et Martia bella canebat / altius et magno pulsabat sidera cantu (‘Under Maecenas’ care of old, Tityrus [so men say] sang more loftily of the countryside, of the oxen and fields, and of the wars of Mars; and with his mighty song he battered the heavens’; trans. Piepho). Barclay scrambles the sacred order by putting georgic before pastoral (Hoffman 1977: 19): ‘And Titerus (I trowe) was this shepherdes name, / I will remember alive yet is his fame. / He songe of fieldes and tilling of the grounde, / Of shepe, of oxen, and battayle did he sounde. / So shrill he sounded in termes eloquent, / I trowe his tunes went to the firmament’ (Eclogues 4.411-6). It is appropriate to make Virgil the central exemplar of the poet in October because he was born in this month. Spenser opens FQ by announcing his own progression from pastoral to epic (I.pr.1).
55 Indeede . . . heare: Cf. Boccaccio, Eclogues 1.82-5, 5.56, 10.66-7. For Sannazaro’s representation of the three-part Virgilian career, see Arcadia, chapter 10, pp. 104-5 (Nash 1966).
56 Mecœnas: Caius Cilnius Maecenas (73-08 BC), a loyal supporter of the Emperor Augustus and a patron of Virgil and Horace. He came to be seen as a type of generous patron of poets. For Spenser, as for Mantuan and Barclay, the relation between Maecenas and Virgil thus represents a lost ideal relating the poet and patron to the nation.
57 Whereon: E.K.
57 taught his flocks to feede: Tityrus/Virgil embodies the motif of shepherding as instruction, introduced at ‘To His Booke’ 10 and exemplified throughout SC. For the English ‘Tityrus’, Chaucer, as an educator, see June 81-8; for Thenot’s application of this education to Cuddie, see Feb 91-101.
laboured: plowed, tilled
timely eare: grain in season
58 laboured: With reference to Virgil’s Georgics, which emphasizes the importance of farm work. The phrase ‘timely eare’ connects harvest with the poet’s reception.
eft: afterwards
drede: dread
59 sing of warres and deadly drede: Imitating the opening line of the Aeneid (see 39n), and revised for the opening of FQ: ‘Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song’ (I.pr.1.9).
60 So as the Heavens did quake his verse to here: An imitation of Mantuan and Barclay (see 55-60n). Spenser’s verb, ‘quake’, changes Mantuan’s pulsabet (‘resound’, ‘beat at’), and Barclay’s ‘went’, while Spenser’s subject, ‘Heavens’, changes Mantuan’s sidera (‘stars’) and Barclay’s ‘firmament’. Spenser also changes the syntax, introducing a slightly comical tone, for the heavens are afraid of the poet—perhaps appropriate for a representation of pagan culture (cf. Cuddie at 54).
61-63 But ah . . . in leade: Cf. June 89. Barnfield echoes these lines in ‘As it fell upon a Day’, originally published under Shakespeare’s name in the concluding poem to The Passionate Pilgrim (1599): ‘King Pandion, he is dead: / All thy friends are lapp’d in lead’ (20.23-4; Riverside Shakespeare [1997]).
liggen: lie
63 wrapt in leade: Used also at June 89, Nov 59. Refers to the practice of wrapping the body in a lead sheet for burial.
65-66 For ever . . . loved aye: E.K. Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.153-6: at qui dura manu gesserunt bella potenti / fortiter utentes ferro, non molliter auro, / dilexere graves Musas; heroica facta / qui faciunt reges heroica carmina laudent (‘But kings who with their mighty hands vigorously waged war and bravely revelled in arms, not spinelessly in gold—these men loved the grave muses. Kings who do heroic deeds praise heroic verses’; trans. Piepho).
dreade: dreaded
65 derring doe: E.K. Cf. ‘derring to’ at Dec 43, glossed by E.K. using the lemma ‘derring doe’ (see note for explanation).
of hem: about them; loved by them; aye: always
67-72 But after . . . shamefull coupe: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.157-9.
vertue: manliness, heroism
67 But after: E.K.
a bedde of: to bed by
pease: pea
preace: press, crowd
70 preace: A likely pun on ‘printing press’ (McCabe 1999: 562).
wittes: people of learning and talent
72 pend: A pun on ‘penned’, written with a quill, as the avian metaphor of ‘coupe’ invites.
73-76 And if . . . rybaudrye: Cf. Mantuan, Eclogues 5.148-50; Chaucer, CT Pardoner 324-5: ‘Nay, lat hym telle us no ribaudye! / Telle us som moral thyng’.
stocke: source; trunk
75 Or . . . fayne: ‘Either it must ignore man’s follies’.
rybaudrye: ribaldry, irreverence
78 Tom Piper: E.K. Nickname for a local village piper, often associated with those who accompany Morris dancers--here a trope for an ignorant amateur poet. Cf. Drayton, Pastorals, Eclogue 3.29-32: ‘I care not the while, / My selfe above Tom Piper to advance, / Which so bestirs him at the Morrice Dance, / For penny wage’.
120-79 O pierlesse Poesye . . . store his farme: This second half of the eclogue has no precedent in Mantuan or Barclay (cf. Renwick, Var 7: 387).
79-84 O pierlesse Poesye . . . flye back to heaven apace: Piers’ outburst on the proper ‘place’ of poetry dilates between two prospects: ‘Princes pallace’ and ‘heaven’. He identifies the royal court as the ‘fitt’ place for poetry (81), but adds that if poetry fails to find reception at court, the poet should turn to a contemplative, divine poetry, which the Renaissance associated with the hymn (cf. Rollinson 1968). Already in 1579, Spenser registers that the Protestant poet’s career may necessitate a turn from courtly to contemplative poetry. Piers’ lines 85-96 go on to link the hymn with Neoplatonism, as their common metaphor, that of winged flight, suggests (see note below).
79 pierlesse: Peerless, but also punning on Piers’ name.
82 Ne brest: E.K.
apace: quickly
84 flye back to heaven apace: Identifies the hymn as the final literary form of the poet’s public career. Cf. Theocritus, Idylls 17.1-4; Virgil, Ecl 3.60, 8.11 (Pugh 2016: 177).
85-96 Ah Percy . . . lowly eye: Cuddie and Piers engage in a dialogue on the topic of Neoplatonic poetry, and situate it with respect to Colin Clout. Whereas Cuddie thinks Colin (alone of their peers) would be able to write such high-flying poetry if his love of Rosalind did not impede him, Piers argues that ‘love’ is what allows Colin to ‘climbe so hie’ (91). This passage anticipates Spenser’s later hymnic verse, both FH and Colin’s great paean to love in Colin Clout (835-94), both of which works inscribe Renaissance Neoplatonism (Var 7: 387-9; cf. Ellrodt 1960; McCabe 1999: 562; SpSt 2009). Thus, as early as October, Spenser demonstrates technical knowledge of Platonism and Neoplatonism (Borris, Quitslund, and Kaske 2009: 6; Kaske 2009: 30; Rees 2009: 98; Borris 2009: 461-7; Quitslund 2009: 503, 511—refuting Ellrodt 1960 and Jayne 1995): ‘When Spenser entered Pembroke Hall in 1569, texts of Plato were available and Ficino’s translations and commentaries were in use’ (Rees 2009: 125n1; see 98-124 for her ‘Appendix: Availability of the Works of Ficino and Plato and Their Place in the Cambridge Curriculum’).
peeced pyneons: patched wings
plight: physical condition
87 peeced pyneons: E.K. Cf. Plato, Phaedrus 249. The metaphor of Platonic flight will become common in Spenser, as at HHB 26-8. That the pinions are patched suggests an artistic process of poetic making, also evoked in Colin’s last name, Clout, a piece or patch of clothing.
fittes: it is fitting
scanne: mount; analyze verse (metrically)
88 famous flight: Inspired verse that will secure the poet’s fame (P. Cheney 1993). The phrase recalls Troilus’ flight at the end of Troilus and Criseyde (5.1807-27), which ‘would have offered Spenser something rather different from the flight from Petrarchan pastoral to epic’: ‘Chaucer’s poem explicitly refuses to be “heroic”’ (Kinney 2003: 32, 34).
bedight: affected, governed, maltreated
soote: sweet
90 as soote as Swanne: E.K. The swan is the emblem of the poet’s transcendent verse, here the Neoplatonic hymn, because the swan was legendary for singing before it dies (cf. Clements 1944). Cf. Virgil, Ecl 9.27-9 (Pugh 2016: 178).
91-96 Ah fon . . . eye: The discourse of Neoplatonic love. Piers argues that it does not matter that Colin’s love is unrequited; his love of Rosalind, a noble form of desire, ‘rayse[s]’ his ‘mynd above the starry skie’. In this, Piers assumes the familiar Platonic Ladder of Love from the Symposium (210a-211b), in which love of physical beauty leads to love of spiritual beauty and finally to the Idea of Beauty itself, an abstraction in the realm of the gods detached from materiality. See 93n. Spenser returns to the imagery in FH: HB 1-7; HL 64-3, 176-77, 190-96.
91 Ah . . . love: ‘O you are a fool, for it is love that . . .’
93 immortall mirrhor: E.K. The phrase is ambiguous, enigmatic. Most directly, it means ‘reflection of the immortal world’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 164); but, as an object that Colin ‘admire[s]’, it means beauty, the face of the beloved as it reflects the divine, referring to Rosalind (Shore 1985: 57). ‘Spenser probably means Elizabeth as Venus Coelestis, whom, according to Ficino, “dwells in the highest, supercelestial zone of the universe, i.e., in the zone of the Cosmic Mind, and the beauty symbolized by her is the primary and universal beauty of divinity”’ (Cain in Oram 1988: 168, quoting Panofsky 1962: 142). Ficino had featured the image of the mirror: ‘the single face of God shines successively in three mirrors . . . the Angelic Mind, the World Soul, and the [material] Body of the World’ (Commentary 5.4; quoted McCabe 1999: 562). The ‘phrase may be intended to suggest that Colin will find his true inspiration not in Rosalind but in the queen’ (McCabe 1999: 562).
93 admire: Admiratio, a technical term in Neoplatonism and aesthetics, evoking the way Colin looks into the immortal mirror, gazing in a state of sublime wonder.
94 rayse ones mynd above the starry skie: Evokes a transcendent poetic art. The word ‘mynd’ identifies the intellectual faculty producing the art, tapping into Spenser’s innovative interest throughout SC in the ‘inwardness’ so important to later writers (Maus 1995). The ‘starrie skie’ is the sphere of the fixed stars, above those of the planets and adjacent to the primum mobile; hence, near God.
95 a caytive corage: E.K.
95 aspire: A loaded term. Aspiration is a premier activity of Elizabethan intellectual culture (Esler 1966), evoking both heroic achievement and dangerous overreaching, epitomized in the myths of Icarus and Phaethon. Yet the concept of winged aspiration is also the mark of the classical sublime in Lucretius, Virgil, and Horace (Hardie 2009: 201), Roman authors who attach to aspiration the very metaphors of ascent that Piers voices: ‘climbe so hie . . . lyftes him up . . . rayse ones mynd . . . above the starrie ekie . . . lofty.’ Only later in the first century AD will Longinus call such aspiration the sublime, centering it in Homer, Plato, and the Greek tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, as well as Sappho.
96 For lofty love: E.K.
97.0 Oct 97.0: Cuddie.] 1586 ingeniously supplies the speech heading missing from 1579 and 1581.
120-97 All otherwise . . . store his farme: The final part of the dialogue, emphasizing Cuddie’s response to Piers’ high-flying Neoplatonic discourse, presents a corresponding flight into the high genre of tragedy, and concludes when Piers promises to award Cuddie a ‘Kidde’ for his lofty attempt (a promise that recalls the Greek festivals where tragedians competed publicly for awards). That Cuddie wins a prize in a competition of one is in keeping with Spenser’s treatment of this youthful shepherd, a complex blend of sympathy and humor. Alternatively, Piers may offer the kid because he considers himself Cuddie’s competitor. Like many of the fictional transitions in the dialogue, and indeed throughout SC, this one remains oblique; it invites interpretation, opening a second dialogue between poet and reader.
98-99 Tyranne . . . rules . . . power: The metaphors are ‘political’ (Lane 1993: 165). See 117n.
fell: ruthless
vaunted: celebrated, ambitious
100 The vaunted verse a vacant head demaundes: See E.K. and note. Cf. Ovid, Tristia 1.1.39-41: carmina proveniunt animo deducta sereno; / nubila sunt subitis pectora nostra malis. / carmina secessum scribentis et otia quaerunt (‘Poetry comes fine spun from a soul at peace; my mind is clouded with unexpected woes. Poetry requires the writer to be in privacy and ease’; see Stapleton 2009: 54). The line pinpoints poetry’s ‘Vacant Head model’, epitomized in Cuddie through ‘plaintive’ poetry: poetry precedes love; love is an imaginary matter devised for the sake of song, as the youthful poet clears his mind of actuality to enter an idyllic paradise devoid of persons—a poetry on display in March, Aprill, and the August roundelay (Berger 1988: 357-9, 371).
crabbed care: perverse worries
103-114 Who ever casts . . . in her equipage: ‘Reading these words to-day they may well seem to us the charter of the new age of England’s song, and the effect is rendered all the more striking by the rhythm of the last line with its prophecy of Marlowe and mighty music to come’ (Greg, Var 7: 390; see P. Cheney 1993: 61-5). The passage illustrates Spenser’s early interest in drama, especially in tragedy, as revealed elsewhere in his canon (see Dolven 1999). Although Harvey says that Spenser wrote Nine Comedies in imitation of Ariosto (Letters 4.267-70), the works are not extant.
compasse: achieve, gain, grasp
103 casts to compasse: ‘Seeks to gain or achieve’. Cf. Sept 83.
104 thondring words of threate: Cf. Gascoigne, ‘The Author to the Reader’, The Steel Glass: ‘In rymeless verse, which thundreth mighty threates’. Cf. also Marlowe, 1 Tamburlaine Prologue.5: ‘Threat’ning the world with high astounding terms’.
105 lavish cups: E.K. October is the month of the wine harvest. On Bacchus and wine as inspirations of poetry, see Boccaccio, Gen Deor 5.25: ‘Poets are wont to be crowned with the vine, because by their skill they are sacred to Bacchus’; Conti, Myth 5.13. Cf. Jonson’s Conversations with Drummond of Hawthorndon, where Drummond says of Jonson: ‘He hath by heart some verses of Spenser’s “Calender”, about wine, between Colin [Cuddie] and Percy’. The link between wine and poetic inspiration is traditional (Clements 1955).
105 thriftie bitts: Either ‘frugal cuts’ or ‘prime cuts’.
106 For Bacchus . . . Phœbus wise: Bacchus is traditionally the god of tragedy, while Phoebus Apollo is the god of music, especially as composed on the lyre and epitomized in heroic poetry. The friendship between Bacchus and Phoebus thus represents a link between tragedy and epic as twin high genres, as featured in Aristotle’s Poetics.
nombers: verses, meters, rhythms
108 spring: Spenser’s recurrent aquatic metaphor of poetic origin. See Apr 35-6n.
109 rage: The concept is ‘the all-consuming subject of Senecan tragedy’ (Braden 1985: 2). Beginning in 1569, Seneca’s tragedies were being translated into English (Senecas Tenne Tragedies is published in 1581). Rage is also ‘Platonic’, evoking ‘furor poeticus’: ‘Both Cuddie’s statement and [E.K.’s] . . . apparatus to it represent technical doctrinaire Florentine Neoplatonism’ (Kaske 2009: 30). In fact, ‘The most clearly Platonic and Ficinian notion in Spenser’s canon is that a beneficial kind of frenzy or madness magnifies creative achievement in love, in literature, and in the highest human endeavors’ (Borris, Quitslund, and Kaske 2009: 6).
distaind: stained
110 O if my: E.K.
111 Yvie: E.K. Ivy crowns poets in Virgil, Ecl 7.25, 8.12-3. For the link between ivy and learning, cf. Horace, Odes 1.1.29; Philostratus, Imagines 1.18.23.
112 Muse: Melpomene, Muse of tragedy. Cuddie’s reference—and his speech on tragedy—builds a narrative bridge to the next eclogue, November, where Colin delivers a funeral elegy on Queen Dido, which begins, ‘Up then Melpomene thou mournefulst Muse of nyne’ (53). For Melpomene’s role in Teares, see 115-74.
112 stately stage: The word ‘stately’ can mean ‘grand, elevated, dignified’, but also, more precisely, ‘of state’, suggesting that Cuddie’s tragic theater treats its subject as the grandeur of the political state, a commonplace of criticism on the genre.
113 in buskin: E.K. For Dame Tragedy wearing the buskin, see, e.g, Ovid, Amores 3.1.11-14.
114 queint: E.K.’s gloss is probably correct but the term had a variety of connotations, from ‘skilled’ to ‘cunning’ to ‘haughty’. Cf. Chaucer, Rom 65-6: ‘And makith so queynt his robe and faire / That it hath hewes an hundred payre’.
114 Bellona: The goddess of war (cf. Lucan, Pharsalia 1.565-6). Bellona was distinct from Pallas Athena but became associated with her in the Renaissance (Brooks-Davies 1995: 170-1).
114 equipage: Properly understood as martial accouterment rather than, as E.K. maintains, ‘order’, but ‘retinue’ is also possible.
corage: emotion, wrath, excitement
assayde: affected, assailed us, tested
117 tydes: E.K. Cuddie’s phrase ‘troublous tydes’ is nebulous yet ominous, in keeping with the discourse of the sublime; his contentment to stay in the ‘humble shade’, where he can ‘safely’ write pastoral, evokes the political danger of writing tragedy, a genre, Sidney says in The Defence, that ‘maketh kings fear to be tyrants’ (746). Effectively, Cuddie’s speech ends where it began, with references to tyranny, rule, and power (98-9 and note).
charme: make songs on
118 Here . . . charme: E.K. Virgil, Ecl 10.50-1: Ibo et Chalcidico quae sunt mihi condita versu / Carmina, pastoris Siculi modulabor avena (‘I will be gone, and the strains I composed in Chalcidean verse I will play on a Sicilian shepherd’s pipe’).
119-120 And when . . . farme: The postponement of the gift is reminiscent of Mantuan, Eclogues 5.182-4: iuro / me tibi, si venti veniant ad vela secundi, / laturum auxilium (‘I swear . . . that if favorable winds fill my sails, I will bring help to you’; trans. Piepho).
119 Gates . . . layd: ‘Goats have given birth’.
store: stock
121 Piers’ emblem is notably missing, but E.K. refers to it in his gloss [Embleme]; only Cuddie’s emblem is printed.
122 Agitante . . . etc: Part of a line in Ovid, Fasti 6.5: ‘[There is a god within us.] It is when he stirs us that our bosom warms’.
doubt: think, imagine
7-8 Cuddie . . . authour selfe: See headnote.
9 Cantion: From the It canzona ‘song’.
9 as he sayth: At Aug 139-95, Cuddie arrives to judge the singing contest between Willye and Perigot, and afterwards he records Colin’s sestina.
12 Avena: L for ‘reed pipe’. Cf. Virgil, Ecl 1.2.
unlusyte: dull, listless
conspyre: agree
17-18 Plato . . . de Legibus: E.K.’s information here is not in Plato’s Laws.
27 vatem: Seer, visionary. The distinction between vates and poeta was standard in Renaissance poetics. William Webbe uses this section of the gloss in his Discourse of English Poetrie (1586), B3r.
37 compassion . . . affection: Harmony and capacity for being moved emotionally.
35-49 Plato . . . brests: Plato cites Pythagoras at Phaedo 86b-d, discussing the effects of different kinds of melodies, and seeing an analogy between music and politics (see Laws 2.655a-660a, 3.700a-701b). In the Republic, Socrates prohibits certain kinds of poetry from the ideal state because of their danger to youths and citizens (10.605c-607d). E.K.’s reference to Aristotle may be Politics 8.7.
38-39 Alexander . . . Timotheus: Suda, the important Byzantine encyclopedia, tells the story under the title ‘Timotheus’.
Oct gl 48 – vii.: seventh
48 molifie: ‘To soften in temper or disposition’ (OED).
49 kindly courage: natural vigor, disposition, or lustiness
faculty: poetic faculty/ability
cognisance: badge, crest; other: i.e., other families’
71 Erle of Leycester: Robert Dudley. Between early 1579 and mid-1580, Spenser served as secretary to Leicester. By the time SC was published, however, Leicester had been banished from court by the Queen, who was outraged at both his clandestine marriage to Lettice Knollys and his opposition to her own proposed marriage to d’Alençon.
71 cognisance: Emblem or badge. E.K. is correct in asserting that the bear and ragged staff was the cognizance of other families, but it clearly refers to the Dudley family. Cf. Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI 5.1.203: ‘The rampant bear chain’d to the ragged staff’.
84 Georgiques: The quartos of 1579 and 1581 print ‘Bucoliques’, while the quarto of 1586 makes the correction to ‘Georgiques’.
96 Oration: See Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta 10.24.
100-96 Petrarch . . . tromba: RS 187.1-4.
102 Scipio: See Cicero, Pro Archia Poeta 9.22.
104-105 Alexander . . . Pindarus: See Plutarch, Alexander 11.4-6, 26.1-4; Pliny, Natural History 7.29.109.
111 Darius: See Plutarch, Alexander 8.2-3; 26; Pliny, Natural History 7.29.108.
120 Pent: Line 72 reads ‘pend’, so E.K.’s lemma is an error.
84 Oct gl 84: Bucoliques] We preserve this reading, corrected in 1586, since there is no reason to believe that it misrepresents the copy from which 1579 was printed. Although ‘Bucoliques’ properly designates Virgil’s pastoral eclogues, E.K. is plainly referring to the Georgics.
131 The silver swanne: This poem is lost, but for the myth of the swan singing before it dies, see Time 589-95. At Tristia 5.1.14, Ovid compares his poem to the song of a dying swan.
135-136 Fiorir . . . affanni: RS 60.3-4: ‘[The noble tree, i.e. the laurel, Laura] made my weak wit flower in its shade and grow in my troubles’.
138-139 I think this . . . a fault: Right where the eclogue gets loftiest, E.K. disparages the poet’s style.
140 Cacozelon: A Greek term, the Latin form of which is cacozelia, ‘bad imitation’. In rhetoric, the term is used for stylistic affectation (also called ambitio), with E.K. here referring to the line’s four-beat alliteration. The term was ‘the defect most frequently attributed to Virgil’s verse by his early commentators’ (W.J. Kennedy 1990: 99).
141-142 Mantuanes . . . Poscit: ‘Divine [poetry] demands a mind empty of cares’. The saying is not Mantuan’s, though a version of the idea appears at Eclogues 5.18-9: laudabile carmen / omnem operam totumque caput, Silvane, requirit (‘A praiseworthy song, Silvanus, requires all my toil and thought’; trans. Piepho). Also, cf. Cicero, Epistuulae Ad Quintum Fratrem 3.4.4; Juvenal, Satires 7.63-6; Ovid, Heroides 15.14.
143-144 Faecundi . . . disertum: ‘Who is the man whom brimming cups have failed to make eloquent?’ (Horace, Epistles 1.5.19).
145 Poetical furie: The furors were states of inspiration and could be poetic, heroic, erotic, or divine (Allen 1993). Sidney cites Plato’s Ion (534a-e) as a source for the notion in his Defence of Poesy 1126-37.
buskin: boot
stockes: stockings
156-157 Solo . . . cothurno: ‘your songs . . . alone are worthy of the buskin of Sophocles [i.e. tragedy]’ (Ecl 8.10).
157 Magnum . . . cothurno: ‘[Aeschylus taught actors] to speak grandly and walk in buskins’ (Ars Poetica 280).
saucinesse: forwardness
159 Lucian: Cf. Dialogues of the Gods, ‘Hephaestus and Zeus’ 225-6.
162-163 whom . . . comely: ‘Whom, when Vulcan saw her to be so fair and comely’.
170 Ovid: E.K. remembers Amores 3.7.27-30 on charms but mistakenly misquotes Aen 4.487: haec se carminibus (‘with her spells’).
170 Aut si carminibus: ‘Or if in songs’.
134 Petrachs] While 1586 adopts the more familiar English form, we preserve the spelling of 1579, it is instanced in print a few times prior to 1579, notably in Acham’s Scholemaster. It appears again in Letters 2.587.
174 Epiphonematicos: By way of epiphonema (acclamatio), an exclamation to end a discourse.
174 Piers answereth: Indicates that Piers’ emblem existed, but it is missing in all editions.

E.K. is the first to assign special status to November, saying in the Argument that Spenser ‘farre pass[es] . . . his reach, and in myne opinion all other the Eglogues of this booke’. November is indeed ‘the grandest poem in the sequence’ (Alpers 1972: 367): it features the ‘sacred mystery of death and rebirth’, as Spenser ‘reevaluat[es] . . . the whole enterprise [the poet’s career] in the light of eternity’ (Montrose 1979: 51-2).

Structurally, the eclogue divides into three parts. In lines 1-52, the shepherd Thenot asks Colin Clout to sing one of his famous songs, whether a love song to Rosalind or a hymn to Pan; but Colin refuses because the autumnal season ‘nis the time of merimake’ (9); Thenot agrees, and requests a song on the death of the recently deceased Queen Dido--a request that Colin grants. In lines 53-202, Colin then delivers a fifteen-stanza funeral elegy, in which he mourns the tragedy of Dido’s death but then suddenly witnesses her ascent into the afterlife: ‘I see thee blessed soule, I see, / Walke in the Elisian fieldes so free’ (178-9). Finally, in lines 203-8 Thenot praises the ‘doolfull pleasaunce’ of Colin’s song (204), and awards Colin a lamb.

November relates to previous Colin Clout eclogues: to Januarye and August, for reprising a song about desire, thereby connecting Dido with Rosalind; to Aprill, for presenting a tragic version of the epideictic celebration of a maiden queen, connecting Dido with Elisa; and to June, for offering a heightened meditation on the poet’s career. Yet November also joins October and December in forming a three-eclogue conclusion to SC; together, they present ‘Spenser’s trilogy . . . on poetry and its present state’ (Bernard 1989: 75).

In particular, November shows Spenser writing in the pastoral tradition of funeral elegy. This tradition begins with Theocritus, Idylls 1, an elegy on the dead shepherd Daphnis, in a tradition that goes on to include both Bion’s elegy on the dying Adonis and Moschus’ elegy on Bion. But Spenser’s two key source-texts are Virgil, Eclogues 5, and especially Marot’s elegy on the death of Queen Louise of France, mother to Marot’s patron, Francis I, Eglogue sur le Trespas de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye (1531) (Hoffman 1977: 53-61; for details on Marot, see Reamer 1968/9). Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Sannazaro had all written elegies as part of their pastorals, helping to Christianize the form that Marot and Spenser inherit. As a tradition, these elegies combine a rich philosophical and religious mythology of pastoral, poetry, and politics, and they follow a similar two-part structure: initial grief over loss of a beloved person, followed by consolation through the person’s apotheosis (Sacks 1985; Pigman 1985; Kay 1990; see P. Cheney 2003).

To accomplish his ‘grand’ goals, Spenser uses three sets of verse forms: for the opening dialogue, an eight-line stanza rhyming ababbcbc; for Colin’s song, a ten-line stanza alternating four kinds of lines—alexandrine, pentameter, tetrameter, dimeter—with four interlocking rhymes, ababbccdbd; and for Thenot’s coda, a sixain, rhyming ababcc. Of the most spectacular of the three forms, Colin’s song, Herford writes, this ‘admirable strophe of his own invention . . . conveys the expression of a recurring access or wave of emotion, marked at the outset (in a highly original manner) by the energetic and resonant Alexandrine, then gradually subsiding through verses of diminishing compass, until just before the close it rises in one expiring palpitation’ (Var 7: 397).

Despite this tour de force—or perhaps because of it—November is difficult to gauge. Does Spenser’s commitment to ‘transcendence’ substantiate the Christian poet’s wisdom—his use of art to express faith in the truth of a scriptural heaven (MacCaffrey 1969: 127-9, 132-3; Moore 1982: 113-4)—or is such transcendence ‘escapist’ (Montrose 1979: 50-4; Berger 1988: 399, 409, 414-5)? Alternatively, does the center of November lie elsewhere, not in the ‘image’ of ‘Dido in heaven’ but rather in ‘Thenot’s words of thanks to Colin’ at the end—that is to say, in Spenser’s attention to community, contingency, and song, as the poet directs his gaze at this world, not the next (Alpers 1972: 363)? To the extent that the eclogue valorizes transcendence, it serves the ‘Augustinian’ goal of a ‘celestial pastoral’, fulfilling ‘the function of funeral rites’ in society (Cain in Oram 1989: 185-6); but to the extent that November seeks a ‘performance’ goal in a ‘pastoral of power’, it advertises contingency in the politics of Spenser’s unfolding career (Montrose 1979: 51).

Significantly, the woodcut supports the latter possibility, for it pushes the funeral procession marching to the church bearing the bier of Dido into the background, and centers rather on Thenot’s crowning of Colin with the laurel garland. Hence, the poet plays his pipe, with his sheep grazing before him, while behind him stands a building representing the court.

In such a courtly, vocational setting, who is Dido? The name derives from the tragic Carthaginian queen of Virgil’s Aeneid. While Spenser’s Dido may represent someone in the family of Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, as evoked through reference to ‘the greate shepheard Lobbin, how great is thy griefe’ (113) (Var 7: 395-402), inescapably the ‘mayden of greate bloud’ (Arg 1-2) evokes Queen Elizabeth: in this veiled political allegory, she would be dead to Leicester and Protestant England if she married the Catholic Duc d’Alençon (Parmenter, Var 7: 402; McLane 1969: 47-60; McCabe 1999: 565-6; Prescott 2010: 620-2; Pugh 2016: 145). The allegory about the death of a queen may also gesture to violations of the 1571 statute that illegalizes attempts on the queen’s life: Elizabeth’s ‘divine status is subtly but definitively reserved for her death’ (Lane 1993: 24). Yet the elegy’s ‘celebration of Dido’s life’ (Cullen 1970: 92n29) does not square with such a grim political critique. Dido may refer less to Virgil’s tragically passionate heroine than to an alternate tradition of a chaste queen devoted to her dead husband’s memory (Bono 1984: 67-9; see D. Cheney 1989: 155): ‘Spenser’s interest [is] in recuperative interpretations of Virgil’s female characters. He introduces Dido in “November” not to subvert his earlier tributes to Elizabeth but to suggest another way of representing relationships between the sexes in Virgilian poetry’ (Watkins 1995: 79-80).

What is striking about November, then, is its interplay between the ominous political allegory, on the one hand, and, on the other, its sublime intertextual fiction of both chaste communal desire in this life and Christian transcendence in the next—as well as one inescapable fact: in 1579, Spenser boldly presents his pastoral persona as the creator of this interplay.

1 bewayleth the death: Identifies the genre of the eclogue as a pastoral funeral elegy.
1-2 some mayden of greate bloud: ‘A virgin of noble family or descent’.
2 Dido: The name of Virgil’s heroine in the Aeneid, especially Books 1-6. She is the widowed Queen of Carthage, and falls in love with, and is loved by, the hero Aeneas, who must nonetheless forsake her to carry out his divine destiny, the founding of Rome. Dido’s tragic death by suicide occupies Book 4; at Aen 4.335, Aeneas calls Dido by her alternate name, ‘Elissa’ (‘Elissae’), which Ovid remembers famously (Her 7.102, 193; see Pugh 2005: 18-9). Dido becomes the West’s most poignant casualty of empire (see Johnson 1990: 175; Watkins 1995: 79-82; Horton 1996; Helfer 2012: 31-4).
2 The personage is secrete: E.K. identifies himself as the first to inquire about the symbolic mystery of Dido’s ‘personage’, but his failure to learn the truth from the author has not prevented centuries of speculation. The case remains unsolved. The prime candidate continues to be Queen Elizabeth, in danger of undergoing a figurative death if she were to marry Alençon (see headnote). Like Aeneas visiting Carthage, Alençon was a foreign visitor at Elizabeth’s court in the late 1570s, when Spenser’s dedicatee, Philip Sidney, and his patron, Leicester, vociferously opposed the match.
3 required: asked, requested
4 imitation: Identifies the poet’s method of invention, the imitation of previous literary works--well established in Renaissance poetics.
4-5 Marot . . . Queene: Cf. Marot, Eglogue sur le Trespas de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye. November constitutes a careful imitation of Marot’s Eglogue (Reamer 1968/9; Prescott 1978: 10-12): Spenser borrows the main frame of the fiction, along with several of its details; but he changes Marot radically. In particular, he borrows the fiction of a male poet singing a two-part funeral elegy on the death of a beloved queen (lamentation at her death followed by joy at her immortality), punctuated by a refrain, as well as the introductory and concluding dialogue between two shepherds named Thenot and Colin, the first an inferior poet awarding a prize to the second, superior one. Yet Spenser changes Marot most glaringly by concealing the overt national topicality of the elegy, including the dead queen’s identity. Whereas Marot situates the pastoral fiction in ‘France’ (142, 151, 218), and names members of Francis I’s royal family (both his mother ‘Madame Loyse’ [title] and her daughter ‘Margot’ (Marguerite de Navarre [60, 109]), Spenser nowhere mentions England (or even Kent), and he conceals the identity of the deceased queen. This changes the nature of the fiction from panegyric to (likely) allegory (see 67n) but also the self-presentation of the poet himself. Whereas Marot clearly presents himself as the nation’s premier funeral poet to his king—he is patriotic, sympathetic, learned, artful—Spenser accepts this role but adds to it that of royal counselor, warning Elizabeth about a dangerous French alliance. In this way, E.K.’s reference to Immerito’s imitation of a French poet gestures to a French political context and opens the way to an English one. (Other debts and changes appear below.)
5 farre passing his reache: ‘Surpassing his limit or skill’. The word ‘reach’ could mean ‘Of the mind or mental faculties: range, scope; penetration; capacity for knowledge’ (OED). The phrasing urges the reader to lend special attention to this eclogue among the twelve.
1.0 THENOT: Appears also in Februarie and Aprill (see, respectively). Here Thenot assumes the role of an inferior poet to the superior Colin Clout, but he also courteously serves as the pastoral host of Colin’s art.
1.0 COLIN: After breaking his pipe in Januarye, Colin returns for the first time in nine eclogues to sing a song in the present tense of the fiction; yet no longer does he sing about Rosalind. In Aprill, Colin is absent but Hobbinol records his Song of Elisa; in June, Colin and Hobbinol converse on the poet’s career, but Colin does not sing a song per se; and in August Cuddie rehearses Colin’s sestina of unrequited love for Rosalind. Colin’s funeral elegy here constitutes a third and final form of courtship; after his ‘amorous courtship of Rosalind’ and his ‘social courtship of Eliza’, he engages in ‘spiritual courtship of Dido’: ‘Each . . . is also Spenser’s exploration of a particular mode of poetic power and form: each is a manifestation of the arduous courtship of the Muse’ (Montrose 1979: 35). (In December, Colin will return a final time, but instead of delivering an intricate inset song about another, he offers a complaint of self-analysis leading to a pastoral farewell.)
1-8 Colin . . . higher vaine: ‘These lines have no counterpart in Marot’ (Renwick, Var 7: 404). In fact, they replace Marot’s lines 1-16, where Thenot describes the locus amoenus and urges Colin to engage in a singing contest with Pan, the first part of which Spenser saves for June 1-8, and the second for various parts of SC (see Jan 73, Apr 73-81, and notes). Also, Spenser presents Thenot rehearsing details about Colin’s past career, as presented in previous eclogues: in his sorrow over unrequited love for Rosalind, Colin has stopped singing songs of pleasure valued by the shepherd community for their ‘endles sovenaunce’ (5)—eternal renown—whether he has sung love poems to Rosalind or divine hymns to Pan. The topics of love, pleasure, sorrow, fame, community, and genre receive significant attention in this eclogue.
2 jouisaunce: E.K.
misgovernaunce: misguidance, mismanagement, misconduct
4 loves misgovernaunce: Can mean both that love has misguided Colin and that he has misguided love. Cf. the religious connotation in Chaucer, CT Monk 3201-3: ‘Hadde nevere worldly man so heigh degree / As Adam til he for mysgovernaunce / Was dryven out of hys hye prosperitee’. The word could also have political resonance, perhaps referring to the Alençon affair: ‘Misgovernment of a country, state, or (occas.) of a public authority or other institution’ (OED), citing Gower, Confessio Amantis 7.4566: ‘So that the lustes ignorance / Be cause of no misgovernance, / Thurgh which that he be overthrowe.’ See Jan 45n, Maye 121n.
5-6 endles sovenaunce . . . aye remaine: E.K. glosses ‘sovenaunce’ as ‘remembrance’. Both words speak to the topic of poetic fame.
somewhat: something
sovenaunce: remembrance, fame
5 somewhat: Could have qualitative resonance (OED): ‘sing something important’.
aye: always, forever
7-8 Whether . . . vaine: Spenser imitates Virgil, Ecl 5.10-11: Incipe, Mopse, prior, si quos aut Phyllidis ignis / aut Alconis habes laudes aut iurgia Codri (‘Begin first, Mopsus, if you have any strains on your flame Phyllis, or in praise of Alcon, or in raillery at Codrus’). Whereas Virgil identifies three kinds of songs—love lyric, encomium, satire—Spenser identifies two: love lyric and hymn--songs addressing an earthly beloved and a deity. In Januarye, Colin turns from singing love songs to Rosalind to singing a hymn to Pan, although in November Pan signifies principally Christ (Berger 1988: 414). The phrase ‘higher vaine’ puts the two kinds into a hierarchy, derived from Renaissance poetics, which identifies the hymn as a higher genre than love lyric. In Marot’s Eglogue, Thenot is not generically precise, encouraging Colin to enter into a singing contest with Pan to produce great art. Spenser repeats his own two-genre paradigm at 10 and (more nebulously) at 21-2 (see notes on each).
advaunce: praise
8 Pan: Cf. Jan 17 and note.
8 vaine: Vein, here meaning ‘kind’ or ‘species’ but also ‘A special or characteristic style of language or expression in writing or speech’ (OED, citing Oct 23). The word recurs at 50.
12-9 now nis the time of merimake . . . cocked haye: Colin rejects the two kinds of songs that Thenot proposes at 7-8, love lyric and hymn, because both are of ‘merimake’.
nis: is not
10 herye: E.K. The word ‘herye’ is the verb form of the noun ‘herse’ in the refrain of Colin’s elegy, meaning praise (Berger 1988: 401). The word could also evoke ‘harry’, torment (Pugh 2016: 137).
11 make: A term also for the making of poetry.
cocked: in cocks (small conical stacks)
13 welked: E.K.
laye: lair, couch, pasture
15 laye: E.K. The OED entry for ‘lair’ cites FQ IV.viii.29.9 for ‘A place for animals to lie down in’, adding, ‘By Spenser, if the reading be correct, used pseudo-arch. for “pasture.”’ The word reappears at 188.
16 Fishes haske: E.K. A basket carrying a fish, and a major crux of SC, because ‘Fishes haske’ refers to Pisces, the zodiacal sign of February, not to Sagittarius, the sign of November, as depicted in the woodcut and mentioned by E.K. in his gloss (see Richardson 1989: 504). The phrase could be a remnant of a pre-calendrical stage of the poem (Renwick 1930: 184); or it could allusively criticize the prospect of Elizabeth’s marriage with Alençon, the French dauphin (dolphin, fish) (McLane 1961: 54). Supporting the latter: Alençon was born on 18 March 1554, ‘under the sign of Pisces’ (Pugh 2016: 151). For a contemporary imitation, see the second edition of Francis Davison’s Poetical Rhapsody (1608): ‘The joyfull Sunne, whom cloudy winters spight / Had shut from us in watry Fishes haske, / Returnes againe’ (38). Perhaps we should take Davidson’s cue, and see Pisces as metonymically a sign for winter.
Thilke: this
17 Thilke . . . aske: ‘This sullen season requires a sadder mood, state of mind, or literary approach’; also, a principle of poetic decorum.
sike: such
19-20 The mornefull Muse . . . dayes: At 53, Colin identifies the Muse as Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy (see E.K.’s gloss and Teares 115-74); to make sense of these lines together, they need to be paraphrased: ‘the Muse who is mournful now does not wear her once mirthful countenance, the way she used to do when she was younger’. The word ‘maske’ refers to the stage prop worn by tragic actors in antiquity. Shakespeare appears to imitate these lines at Sonnet 102.6-8 (P. Cheney 2004: 233-6): ‘When I was wont to greet it with my lays, / As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing, / And stops [her] pipe in growth of riper days’. November refers twice to Philomela: ‘Nightingale’ at 25 and ‘Philomele’ at 141 (see notes on each).
21-22 light virelayes . . . looser songs of love: Colin again evokes the Renaissance hierarchy of genres, but it is not clear whether he refers to one or both kinds mentioned at 7-8 and at 10: hymn and love poetry. Although the conjunction ‘And’ suggests two kinds, Colin’s description of the virelays as ‘light’ supports E.K.’s gloss: ‘a light kind of song’. Long ago, Herford saw the import: ‘The virelay (O. F. “virer,” to turn, veer) was properly a lyric with a continuous rhyme-system founded upon a periodical return to the same rhymes. Chaucer mentions among his works (Leg. of G. W. 423): “Many an ympne for your haly dayes / That highten Balades, Roundels, Virelayes”’ (Var 7: 405). Colin’s adjective for virelay, ‘light’, can be seen to disparage the kind of songs he once sung to Pan. The word also appears at Apr [33] (see note) but is rare in Spenser. Marot does not use the word ‘virelay’; cf. ‘chansons’ at Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 9, 18.
algate: nevertheless, in any case; lust: desire
underfong: undertake
22 underfong: Medievalism. OED cites as a transformation of the verb underfo. Cf. June 103, where the word means ‘seduce’.
Poetes prayse: praise of the poet(s)
Relieve: take up once more; restore to use, raise up
24 Relieve: Medievalism.
25-28 The Nightingale is sovereign . . . fooleree: A clear imitation of Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse 29-32, which compares the nightingale to the woodpecker: Le Rossignol de chanter est le maistre; / Taire convient devant luy les Pivers. / Aussi estant, là où tu pourras estre / Taire feray mes Chalumeaulx divers (‘The nightingale is the master of song, / Silencing, as is proper, the woodpeckers before him. / Also, there where you could be / Will he silence my restless reeds’; trans. Meyers). For Colin’s connection with the nightingale, Philomela, see Aug 183-6, Nov 141, Dec 79 (P. Cheney 1993: 80). In an eclogue featuring ‘some mayden queen of greate bloud’, Spenser’s identification of his persona as a ‘sovereigne’ is audacious, yet discreetly indirect, referring to a bird, not a bard. Marot’s word is ‘maistre’, which can mean variously ‘mistress’, ‘ruler’, or ‘lady’, but Spenser’s diction goes further by drawing attention to the poet’s special relationship with the queen. In SC, Spenser uses the word ‘sovereign’ at Feb 33, 163, June 83, Dec 7, the latter two especially having vocational significance.
sits: it is proper that
Titmose: tomtit
26 Titmose: For the commonplace opposition of nightingale and tit, see Gascoigne, Complaint of Philomene (1576), 25-6, where Philomel sings, ‘sometimes I wepe / To see Tom Tyttimouse, so much set by’. Spenser changes Marot’s woodpecker.
han be: have been
30 be watered: E.K.
kindlye: natural, benevolent
quill: reed, pipe
36 dreeriment: E.K. Neologism.
drent: drowned
37 drent: On the crux of Colin’s Dido as drowning, see 16n. Cf. Virgil, Aen 4.642-705, where Dido mounts her funeral pyre and kills herself with Aeneas’ sword. (In Theocritus, Idylls 1.139-41, Daphnis is drowned in what appears to be Acheron, the river of death in the classical underworld.) Yet in Ovid’s Fasti, Dido’s sister, Anna, drowns herself in the river Numicius because she fears the wrath of Aeneas’ wife, Lavinia (3.645-56), and thereby provides a close parallel with Spenser’s Dido (D. Cheney 1989: 156-61; Nicholson 2014: 117).
38 the greate shepehearde: E.K. Perhaps Leicester, but more likely, in an allegory of Elizabeth, her father, Henry VIII.
38 sheene: E.K.
39 May: E.K.
41-46 And if . . . bynempt: For the promise of a gift for song, cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 37-44; Theocritus, Idylls 1.23-8.
41 tene: E.K. Archaic.
42 I shall . . . payne: Cf. E.K.’s gloss at 46.
rownd: full, perfect
rufull: doleful
44 As those that did thy Rosalind complayne: Links Colin’s songs about Rosalind with his song about Dido: ‘Dido is, in part, a foil to Rosalind’ (Cullen 1970: 395); ‘for Colin rejected love and death converge’ (Berger 1988: 403).
45 guerdon: E.K.
46 Cosset: E.K. Cf. 206.
46 bynempt: E.K.
contempt: disdained
49 Thenot . . . tempt: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 49: Tu me requiers de ce dont j’ay envie (‘You request of me that which I desire’; trans. Meyers).
vaine: talent, poetic style
50 vaine: See 8n.
rugged: harsh, lacking polish
51 unkempt: E.K.
conning: cunning, knowledge; strayne: stretch to the limit, put into verse
202-53 Up then . . . verse: Colin’s song divides into two sections, adapting the convention of the funeral elegy: in the first eleven stanzas, he mourns Dido’s death; in the last four, he witnesses her soul breaking from its corpse to ascend to heaven. In the first section, Colin addresses several figures (his Muse, the shepherds, the shepherds’ daughters, Lobbin); he recalls Dido’s care of her shepherds, including himself; he witnesses various figures in nature weeping over her loss (from flocks, forest beasts, and the dove and nightingale to water nymphs, the Nine Muses, and the Three Fates); and he offers a meditation on the transitoriness of all ‘earthly things’ (153). In the second section, he bursts out in joy at seeing Dido’s resurrection; he re-addresses Lobbin; he describes Dido walking in the Elisian fields; he sees death as a good; and he calls on his song to cease its mourning and find joy in Dido’s sainthood. Altogether, the song serves the social and psychological function of the funeral elegy as a literary form, the ‘work of mourning’ (Sacks 1985; cf. Kay 1990), self-consciously identified in its penultimate line: ‘my woe now wasted is’ (201; see note). While an elegy about a queen named Dido carries the valences identified in the headnote, it also has application to Spenser’s unfolding career: ‘The death of Dido . . . stands for the death of an ideal that Spenser will write a Virginian epic for England’ (Helfer 2012: 131; cf. Horton 1996: 113-4).
53-62 Up then . . . verse: The imperative anticipates Dido’s ascent in the song itself. George Kirbye, an Elizabethan madrigalist, set these lines to music, The first set of English Madrigalls (1597).
53-57 Up then . . . yore: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 50-2: Sus donc mes Vers, chantez chants doloreux / Puis que la Mort a Loise ravie / Qui tant tenoit noz Courtilz vigoreux (‘So rush on, my verses, sing mournful songs, / For death has ravished Louise, / Who kept our gardens full of life’; trans. Meyers); for Melpomene, cf. 265-6: Quand tout est dit, Melpomene allume / Ton stille doulx à tristement chanter (‘When all is said, Melpomene ignites / Your sweet style to sadly sing’; trans. Meyers).
53 Melpomene: E.K. Spenser here does not appear to imagine tragedy as specifically a genre for performance on the stage; e.g., Colin does not wear buskins. Yet see 55n.
55 Up grieslie ghostes: E.K.’s gloss referring to the classical tragedians Euripides and Seneca identifies the pastoral elegy with the dramatic genre of tragedy, effectively showing Colin fulfilling Cuddie’s failed wish in October to write in this high genre.
59 wrapt in lead: A verbal repetition from Oct 63, which refers to Augustus, Maecenas, and other worthies; and from June 89, which refers to Chaucer. Lead is the metal of Saturn, god of melancholy and death.
60 herse: Not merely the funeral bier, but, as E.K. notes, the obsequies, including the song ‘rehearsed’ by Colin, as its refrain-rhyme with ‘verse’ intimates. See note on ‘herye’ at 10. Cf. Aug 193.
store: plenty
carefull: full of care, sorrowful
62 carefull verse: Verse that is both full of care and composed with care.
63-66 Shepheards . . . carke: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 53-4.
warke: work
64 waste of: E.K.
64 warke: The spelling ‘alerts us to the war in nature’s work’ (Berger 1988: 408).
66 carke: E.K. Archaic.
67-69 The sonne . . . night: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 102-4.
67 The sonne of all the world is dimme and darke: ‘The extreme language with which Colin sings her [Dido’s] loss—not only does the natural world decay and fall but even the “sonne of all the world is dimme and darke”—seems to push the verse beyond seasonal exactitude toward a hidden meaning of some sort that makes this death more mysterious than that of Louise’ (Prescott 1978: 11).
71 Breake . . . pypes: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 105. The image recurs at Jan 72, Apr 3.
71 Larke: Bird of dawn, hence the traditional opposite of the nightingale, which is mentioned at 141, 225 (see Romeo and Juliet 3.5.2-7 on both birds). For the lark and its link with transcendence, see June 51 and note. Here the image functions doubly: as a reference to a past joy now lost; and as a premonition of Christian ascent. Marot includes many bird species in his Eglogue, but he does not mention the lark.
73 ah why: E.K.
75 gyrlond: From It ghirlanda and Gr gyros (γῦρος), ‘circle’, but punning on ‘girl’.
quite: entirely
ygoe: gone
moe: more
77 Sing no moe: A topos, derived from Theocritus, Idylls 1.116-7; see Moschus, Idylls 3.20-1.
78 The songs that Colin made in her prayse: Indicates that Colin used his art to court not just Rosalind and Elisa but Dido, as identified in the next line through the phrase ‘wanton layes’.
wanton: lively
83-92 Whence . . . verse: A biblical and classical topos: flowers die but live again; man dies forever. Cf. Job 14:7-9; 1 Pet 1:24 (‘all flesh is as grasse, and all the glorie of man is as the flower of grasse. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth away’); Moschus, Idylls 3.99-104; Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 178-81.
83 flouret: E.K.
bale: misery
availe: benefit, advantage
quaile: perish, fade, wither
91 braunch: E.K. Also, cf. Job 14:7: ‘For there is hope of a tre, if it be cut downe, that it will yet sproute, and the branches thereof wil not cease’.
plesaunce: agreeableness
cracknells: light, crisp biscuits
chere: food
96 With cakes: E.K.
96 cracknells: Cf. Jan 58.
98 heme: E.K.
101-99 clouted Creame . . . Colin cloute: The repetition of the word ‘cloute’ suggests a reciprocal relation between poet and sovereign: through the maternal nourishment of clotted cream, she has given Colin his name, his identity, and thus his art. By praising her in his songs (78 and note), he returns the life-giving source to her. At 106, this source is called ‘solace’. The word ‘cream’ was ‘a mediaeval variant of chrism, the mixture of oil and balm used in sacramental anointing, including extreme unction even after it had ceased to be a sacrament in the English Church’, citing OED (Brooks-Davies 1995: 178). Cf. E.K.’s gloss at [195] on ‘Nectar with Ambrosia mixt’ (195): ‘Ambrosia they [the poets] liken to Manna in scripture and Nectar to be white like Creme’.
clouted: clotted
103-112 But nowe . . . verse: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 93-6.
chaunce: circumstance, happening, (mis)fortune
pleasaunce: delight, agreeableness; dint: blow
105 death . . . daunce: The late medieval motif of the Dance of Death, dans macabre.
107 blew . . . gray: The colors of life and hope are replaced by the colors of death and grief.
107 tinct: E.K. A likely neologism, from L tinctus.
108 The gaudie: E.K.
embrave: beautify, embellish
109 embrave: Since the word means ‘to adorn splendidly; to embellish, beautify’ (OED), it functions as an aesthetic term.
besprint: sprinkled
113 O . . . griefe: Translating Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 61: O grand Pasteur, que tu as de soucy (‘O great shepherd, how laden you are with woe!’; trans. Meyers), but transposing the address from Frances I to ‘Lobbin’ (see note below).
113 Lobbin: E.K. The name refers to Robert Dudley (Robbin), earl of Leicester. Spenser will resurrect the name at Colin Clout 735-6, which identifies Lobbin as a ‘worthie’ at ‘Princes Court’ (737-8).
114-121 Where . . . memoree: Spenser changes Marot considerably, taking the tasks that Loyse’s maids of honor used to perform for her and having Dido perform them for Lobbin; cf. Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 87-90: L’une plantoit herbes en ung Verger, / L’autre paissoit Coulombs et Tourterelles, / L’autre à l’Aiguille ouvroit choses nouvelles, / L’autre (en après) faisoit Chappeaux de fleurs (‘One planted herbs in an orchard, / Another fed doves and turtle doves. / Another wrought new needlework / Another made of them afterwards garlands of flowers’; trans. Meyers).
dight: made
114 the nosegayes that she did dight: The line and the following ones may gesture to Elizabeth’s well-known contemporary role as a poet, as the nosegay was a common trope for poetry, and perhaps a female poetry, as witnessed in the title of Isabella Whitney’s A Sweet Nosegay, or Pleasant Posy (1573). At Teares 576-9, Polyhymnia, Muse of Rhetoric, says of ‘Elisa, sacred Emperesse’, that she ‘is her selfe a peereles Poëtresse. / Most peereles Prince, most peereles Poëtresse’. Spenser often uses the word ‘dight’ when referring to the making of poetry; see June 1-8n, as well as Apr 29, ‘hys ditties bene so trimly dight’, said of Colin.
chaplets: garlands
chiefe: flower head
rushrings: wreaths of rushes
gilte Rosemaree: gold-variegated rosemary
116 rushrings: E.K. Dido’s ‘gifts . . . to . . . Lobbin . . . do not necessarily imply marriage or betrothal. . . . But they do suggest something more intimate than a patron’s relationship to her retainer’ (Watkins 1995: 80).
116 gilte Rosemaree: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 231, where romarin vert, ‘green rosemary’, are brought to adorn Loyse’s coffin.
123-124 Ay me . . . course: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 5.34-5: postquam te Fata tulerunt, / ipsa Pales agros atque ipse reliquit Apollo (‘Since the Fates bore thee off, even Pales has left our fields, and even Apollo’).
kindly: natural
125-128 The faded . . . mourne: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 99-104: Les petis Ventz alors n’ont hallené, / Mais les fors Vents encores en souspirent; / Fueilles & Fruictz des arbres abbatirent; / Le cler Soleil chaleur plus ne rendit; / Du manteau vert les prez se devestirent; / Le Ciel obscur larmes en respendit (‘The little winds possessed no more breath, / But the strong winds still sigh for her. / They cast to the ground leaves and fruit from the trees; / The bright sun gave out no more heat. / Of their green cloak the fields disrobed themselves, / The dark sky overflowed with tears’; trans. Meyers).
125 faded lockes: E.K.
125 oke: A tree of permanence, but also a symbol of power, famous from Lucan, Pharsalia 1.136-43, in a simile describing the aged Pompey, reworked in Du Bellay’s simile for Rome in Les Antiquitez de Rome, and translated by Spenser at Rome 379-92. Cf. Februarie for Thenot’s fable of the Oak and the Briar, especially 102-116 on the decrepit Oak, once ‘King of the field’ (113). The oak is Spenser’s addition to the Marot passage cited at 125-9.
126 sourse: E.K.
flouds: streams
perforse: necessarily
128 The mantled medowes mourne: E.K. A deft imitation of Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 103: Du manteau vert les Prez se desvestirent (‘Of their green cloak the fields disrobed themselves’; trans. Meyers). Cf. Barnfield, The Affectionate Shepheard (1594), sig. B1v: ‘The mantled meaddowes, and the fields so fayre’.
tourne: change
remorse: remittance, intermission
133 The feeble . . . foode: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 5.25-6: nulla neque amnem / libavit quadrupes nec graminis attigit herbam (‘no four-footed beast tasted the brook or touched a blade of grass’).
133-139 For examples of the natural world lamenting the loss of a beloved, see Bion, Idyll 1-39; Moschus, Idylls 3.1-9; Virgil, Ecl 5.20-8, 7.51-6, 10.9-18; Mantuan, Eclogues 3.180-7; Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 107-9.
138-142 The Turtle . . . verse: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 125-8: Sus Arbre sec s’en complaint Philomene; / L’aronde en faict cryz piteux & tranchans;/ La Tourterelle en gemit, & en meine / Semblable dueil; & j’accorde à leurs chants (‘Beneath the dried-up tree laments Philomela, / The Swallow released wretched and piercing cries; / The turtle dove sobbed and carried on / Similar mourning. And I harmonize with their songs’; trans. Meyers). Whereas Spenser mentions Philomela and the turtledove, Marot adds the swallow; for Spenser, however, the swallow is not a bird of lamentation but rather one that either peeps out of its nest to signal the arrival of spring (March 11 and E.K.’s note) or flies swiftly and often precariously (Dec 20).
Turtle: turtledove
138 Turtle: The turtledove is a figure of fidelity in love; it is also a figure for the poet as faithful lover (Am 89.1-8).
launch: cut, pierce
steepe: bathe, soak
141 Philomele: E.K.’s gloss, by citing Gascoigne, draws attention to a genealogy for the nightingale as a figure for the poet, also revealed in Spenser’s reference to ‘song’ (141).
141 steepe: Cf. March 116.
143-147 The water . . . seare: Cf. Virgil, Ecl 5.20-1: Exstinctum Nymphae crudeli funere Daphnin / flebant (vos coryli testes et flumina Nymphis) (‘For Daphnis, cut off by a cruel death, the Nymphs wept—ye hazels and rivers bear witness to the Nymphs’); Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 229-40: Portez Rameaulx parvenus à croissance, / . . . / Et n’oubliez force branches d’Olive, / Car elle estoit la Bergere de Paix (‘Carry boughs newly grown, / . . . / And do not forget the olive branches, / For she was the shepherdess of peace’; trans. Meyers). In Marot, Colin calls on the nymphs to bring flower-filled baskets to scatter on Loyse’s tomb, amplified in a flower catalogue that includes laurel, and the nymphs are reminded to bring olive branches to commemorate her role as a figure of peace. In Spenser, Colin laments how the water nymphs who once made olive garlands for Dido now bring cypress boughs, and how the Muses who once wore laurel now bring elder branches, while the Three Fates stand by, repenting that they cut Dido’s life short.
145 Cypres: E.K.
bayes: laurel
146 bayes: Emblem of poetic fame.
Eldre: black-berried elder
147 Eldre: Judas was said to have hanged himself on an elder tree. The berries are bitter. Cf. ‘Clorinda’ 42, which also refers to this tree. ‘Clorinda’ 37-42 offers a reprise of Nov 143-7, for both passages represent a funereal change of garlands for branches of cypress and elder.
148 The fatall sisters: E.K. Referred to again at 163.
cheare: face
153-162 O trustlesse state . . . carefull verse: ‘The traditional reversal stanza’ relies on a ‘series of aphorisms, Chaucerian in tone and sentiment’ (Hoffman 1977: 60). Colin’s attention to Dido’s ‘body’ laid out on the funeral bier has no correlate in Marot (see 163-72n).
slipper: too slippery
153 O trustlesse: E.K.
swincke: labor
scope: target
mould: form, frame
158 mould: A complex word with multiple meanings: pattern, form, frame; soil, earth; body.
161 beare: E.K.
163-172 But maugre . . . verse: Signaled by the transitional word ‘But’, this is the moment contradicting the fact of death via the poet’s vision of the deceased’s apotheosis. Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 191: Elle est aux champs Elisiens receue (‘She is received into the Elysian fields’; trans. Meyers). Whereas Marot presents Colin recording an apotheosis that has already happened, Spenser presents Colin himself undergoing a vision of the apotheosis.
maugre: in spite of
164 furies: E.K.
165 eternall night: E.K. Spenser’s phrasing, ‘She hath the bonds broke’, gives agency to Dido; she appears messianic.
remorse: mitigation
hent: taken
170-172 O happye . . . verse: For the traditional change in the elegiac refrain, cf. Theocritus Idylls 1.127; Moschus, Idylls 3.119-20; Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 216.
174 betight: E.K.
175-176 saintes . . . saynt: See Maye 15n.
178 I see: E.K.
179 Elisian fieldes so free: E.K. The phrase translates Marot’s champs Elisiens at Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 191, which equates the eternal pagan afterlife with a political Christian place, the Elysium Fields with the Champs-Élysées in Paris (which is named after the Elysium Fields). In classical culture, the Elysium Fields were a divine abode of heroic individuals but also a place of immortalizing song (Homer, Od 4.563; Hesiod, Works and Days 170; Pindar, Odes 2.59-75; Virgil, Aen 6.637-59, 743-7; Ovid, Met 14.11; see also Dante, Paradiso 15.25-7; Chaucer, Tr 4.789-91). Yet Spenser’s spelling of the word ‘Elisian’ evokes the name ‘Elisa’, connecting Dido with Queen Elizabeth (cf. Berger: ‘Elisa . . . centers and embodies Elisium’ [1988: 410]). Like Marot, Spenser politicizes the afterlife in terms of the nation, but he adds the word ‘free’, making the Elisian Fields a place of eternal freedom (see Introduction and notes below).
183-187 Unwise . . . astert: Jortin long ago found these lines to be ‘Lucan [translated] very beautifully’ (Var 7: 413); see Pharsalia 4.517-20: Agnoscere solis / Permissum, quos iam tangit vicinia fati, / Victurosque dei celant, ut vivere durent, / Felix esse mori (‘None but those whom the approach of death already overshadows are suffered to know that death is a blessing; from those who have life before them the gods conceal this, in order that they may go on living’).
doome: judgment; of: for
until: unto
expert: experience
186 Dye . . . dayly: E.K. Cf. 1 Cor 15:31: ‘By our rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I dye daily’.
188-189 Fayre fieldes . . . the grasse ay greene: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 193-6, Là où elle est n’y a rien defloré; / Jamais le jour & les plaisirs n’y meurent; / Jamais n’y meurt le Vert bien coloré, / Ne ceulx avec qui là dedans demerent (‘There where she is, nothing is without beauty. / Never do the day nor pleasures there die. / Never does the full-colored forest there die / Nor those who reside within it’; trans. Meyers); 201-2: En ces beaulx Champs et nayves maisons / Loyse vit (‘In these beautiful fields and naive house / Louise dwells’; trans. Meyers).
187 astert: E.K. Cf. Chaucer, CT Knight 1.1595.
layes: leas, meadows
188 layes: See 15n.
194-196 There lives . . . misse: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 197, 206-7: Car toute odeur Ambrosienne y fleurent . . . / Là mange fruict d’inestimable pris, / Là boyt liqueur, qui toute soif appaise (‘For every ambrosial smell there blooms . . . / There she eats fruit of immeasurable price, / There she partakes of drinks that allay any thirst’; trans. Meyers). Cf. Drayton, who imitates Spenser at Shepherds Garland, Eclogue 4.143, where the deceased Elphin is in heaven ‘Tasting sweete Nectar, and Ambrosia’.
wasted: used up
203-208 Ay francke . . . fast: Thenot’s six-line coda imitates the rhyme scheme of Januarye (ababcc) to anticipate the rhyme scheme of December.
203-205 Ay francke . . . constrainte?: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 261-2: O franc Pasteur, combine tes Vers sont pleins / De grand doulceur & de grand amertume (‘Oh honest shepherd, how full are your verses / Of great sweetness and great bitterness’; trans. Meyers).
francke: generous; free
203 Ay francke shepheard: At once a translation and a quotation of Marot’s Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 261: O franc Pasteur (‘Oh honest shepherd’). In addition to changing the ‘O’ to ‘Ay’, Spenser translates ‘pasteur’ as ‘shepherd’, but he simultaneously translates and quotes the French word ‘franc’ as ‘francke’. Spenser’s word can mean either ‘generous’ or ‘free’ or perhaps ‘unburdened’. In English, however, ‘frank’ can also mean ‘open’ as well as ‘candid’, referring to ‘speech’, and even ‘free in condition; not in serfdom or slavery’ (OED). Morley was the first to see a pun: ‘The “frank Shepherd” in his mind was Clement [sic] Marot’ (Var 7: 414). To be a ‘francke shepheard’ is to be what November so openly declares, a Marotian poet of religious, political, and poetic freedom, able to speak his mind (see Introduction).
203 meint: E.K.
204 doolful pleasaunce: Mournful pleasure. Spenser compresses the attributes conjoined in Marot’s Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 261-2 (see 203-5n above) into an oxymoron descriptive of Colin’s entire elegy: ‘When Thenot says he does not know whether to rejoice or weep, he is referring not simply to his double feeling about Dido’s death, but to his reactions to Colin’s poem. Its power as a technical performance is essential to its spiritual use—which is to enable men to endure, accept, celebrate, not to transcend’ (Alpers 1972: 363; for a rebuttal, see Berger 1988: 395-6).
constrainte: distress
205 constrainte: Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 263: mon cueur tu contraincts (‘my heart you compel’; trans. Meyers).
gotte: earned
206 cossette: See 42, 46 and 46n. Cf. Marot, Eglogue de ma Dame Loyse de Savoye 270-2, where Thenot supplements his earlier promise of a flute with a vert Laurier (‘cap of green laurels’; trans. Meyers).
mizzle: drizzle
210 La . . . mord: ‘Death does not bite.’ Marot used the phrase as his personal emblem in the 1539 edition of his Œuvres. The emblem becomes Spenser’s final seal as a ‘francke shepheard’. Cf. 1 Cor 15.55: ‘O death, where is thy sting!’
8-9 in the signe Pisces all November: A much-discussed error, since the sun is in Pisces in February. See 16n.
12 Castalias: A fountain on Mount Parnassus sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Cf. Virgil, Geor 3.291-3; Apr 41.
conceipt: knowledge
15 Pan: Identified with Henry VIII at Apr [50].
16 closely buried in the Authors conceipt: ‘Thus Eliza is indeed “buried”, figuratively speaking, “in the Authors conceipt”’ (McCabe 1999: 565).
25 Incompti Not comed: ‘Unkempt, not combed’.
27 Melpomene . . . boatu: ‘Melpomene cries aloud with the echoing voice of gloomy tragedy’; not in Virgil but from the epigram Nomina musarum, formerly attributed to Ausonius.
29-30 Hecuba . . . Seneca: Polydorus’s ghost appears in Euripides’ Hecuba and Tantalus’s in Seneca’s Thyestes.
31 obsequie: The religious service for the dead.
34 Epanorthosis: Rhetorical figure in which a word is repeated as a correction.
37 A . . . maius: ‘From less to greater’, a technique of comparison in rhetoric, and specifically a topos in Virgil pointing to the cursus or course of his literary career (Coolidge 1965).
used: customary
58 sisters husbande: Tereus.
60 Gaskin: George Gascoigne (1525?-77), in his Complainte of Philomene. Gascoigne, England’s reigning poet before Spenser, died just before SC was published. The remembrance here forms an elegy within an elegy, and thus momentarily gestures to authorship as the center of November. E.K. gives credit where credit is due, identifying Gascoigne as England’s leading figure for the nightingale myth, and transacts a passing of the literary torch, with Spenser as Gascoigne’s heir, as revealed at 25, when Thenot calls Colin ‘The Nightingale . . . sovereigne of song’ (see note).
Paynims: pagans (i.e., Greeks and Romans)
74 Clotho . . . occat: ‘Clotho bears the distaff; Lachesis draws out the thread; Atropos cuts it’ (Anthologia Latina 729R).
78 Persephone: Mistake for Tisiphone, perhaps confusing their names from Virgil, Culex 218-9 with 261-2, an error repeated at Teares 164. ‘This is one of the arguments for the identity of E.K. and Spenser’ (Renwick, Var 7: 416).
84 Elysian fieldes: Home of the blessed in Virgil’s underworld (Aen 6.637-59, 743-7); yet Virgil’s Dido is consigned to the Mourning Fields (6.440-66; see McCabe 1999: 570).
87 Plato in Phædone: E.K. is likely thinking of Phaedo 61b-c for the idea that death is a good.
proper: appropriate, relevant
90 Manna in scripture: See Exod 16:4-35.
91 Hebe: Cupbearer to the gods. The source for E.K.’s ‘tale of Hebe’ has not been identified. He is troping the Milky Way.
93 Commentarye . . . dreames: Not extant. Spenser tells Gabriel Harvey that he plans to publish the work: ‘I take best my Dreames shoulde come forth alone, being growen by meanes of the Glosse . . . full as great as my Calendar. Therein be some things excellently, and many things wittily discoursed of E.K. and the Pictures so singularly set forth, and purtrayed, as if Michael Angelo were there, he could (I think) nor amende the best, nor reprehende the worst’ (Letters 1.81-6).
102-104 trespasse . . . one: Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-2. The ‘first man’ is Adam.
105 Chaucer: Cf. the opening of CT Parson, quoting Jer 6:16.

In December, Spenser ends The Shepheardes Calender as he began it: with an eclogue about the solitary figure of the shepherd-poet Colin Clout. As in Januarye, Spenser tells a two-part story, with an opening frame spoken by a narrator (this time, one stanza instead of two), giving way to a long lament sung by Colin himself (the number of lines for the eclogue doubles, from 76 to 158). As in Januarye as well, Spenser uses a sixain stanza in both the narrative frame and the song, rhyming ababcc, in generally iambic pentameters—a conjunction that once again draws attention to the interconnectedness between author and persona. The return to the form and format of Januarye sets the terms for genuine complexity: does the artistic principle of recursion show Colin trapped within the calendric cycle of nature, taking him down the path to death? Or does it show the poet released into the perfect circle of immortality? An answer to this question is important for the Calender as a whole.

Primarily, the question results because Spenser juxtaposes a fiction about Colin’s maturation from the spring to the winter of his life with a second fiction, told by ‘Immerito’, which emerges in the 12-line Epilogue printed after the Glosse (see note below on Epilogue). The author of the book proclaims that he has written an immortalizing ‘Calender for every yeare’, one that ‘shall continue to the worlds dissolution’: ‘That steele in strength, and time in durance shall outweare . . . / . . . if I marked well the starres revolution’ (1-4). The claim of the Epilogue is the grandest that poetry can make, for ‘the master topos of post-classical European literature [is the] unprecedented union . . . of subjective vision and objective fact’ (Braden 1999: 60). In this topos, on display from Dante to Milton, the poet presents his poem as an artifact in the shape of the cosmos; he compares his own ‘poetic production’ with ‘that of the creator of the universe’ (Curtius 1953: 400; see 379). In December, the key becomes whether to interpret Colin’s song in and of itself, as its own artifact, exhibiting the poet’s failure on the road to death, or to place Colin’s song within the larger frame of Immerito’s work, in which poetry qualifies as a cosmological art having a cosmological function. For a conclusion to Spenser’s inaugural publication, the juxtaposition of a fiction of death with a fiction of immortality should hardly be surprising. Spenser makes it clear that he throws down the gauntlet, to England, to the international community, and to Western poetry, in defense of poetry’s vital role in time and beyond it.

Yet it proves challenging to interpret the double-fiction. In the eclogue fiction, is Colin in a moribund state of ‘despondency’ (Cullen 1970: 79-81) singing an ‘elegy for himself’ (McCabe 1999: 570; see McCabe 1995: 39-40) modeled on Ovid’s myth of Narcissus (Johnson 1990: 109-14); or is Colin in a mature state of resignation before he dies (Montrose 1979: 62; Moore 1982: 112-5; Shore 1985: 94-102; Cain in Oram 1988: 201-2)? From the perspective of the Epilogue, how does Spenser as an author relate back to Colin as a character? Does Spenser use Colin with his ‘pathological pleasure in the rhetoric of self-pity’ to transact a ‘metapastoral critique’ of a failed art (Berger 1989: 387, 379); or does Spenser ‘transform . . . what might have been a despairing epitaph into a celebration of artistic achievement’, asserting ‘the triumph of art over time’ (McCabe 1999: 571).

In the eclogue proper, Spenser imitates Marot’s Eglogue au Roy soubz les noms de Pan et Robin (1539). On the one hand, Spenser borrows the French poet’s basic narrative conceit, the poet’s review of his life as the passing of the four seasons, as well as considerable detail for each season (see individual notes below). On the other hand, Spenser once more changes Marot considerably (see 1-18n). For instance, the French persona figure, Robin, directs his song to his patron, Pan, in order to address Francis I, who at the close of the eclogue gives the poet royal patronage. In this way, Eglogue au Roy transacts a successful model relating poet and sovereign, showing the poet to be a monarchical dependent, and the sovereign willing to advance that dependency (Marot barely mentions Robin’s love-life). In contrast, Colin does not address Queen Elizabeth, who has no formal role in his song; instead, Colin relieves Rosalind of blame and engages in ‘self-reliance’, lending ‘semi-divine status’ not to the monarch but to the poet (McCabe 1995: 39).

How, then, are we to read the politics of poetry in December, with its ‘greene cabinet’ (17) as at once the Elizabethan cabinet of government and the artifact of this cabinet made by the poet (see 17n)? Are we to ‘translate . . . a personal explanation of Colin’s melancholy into a national one’, seeing December as ‘a pastoral of state’ addressing ‘those in power’ but offering ‘two versions of nationalism, that which could be expressed in whole-hearted appreciation of Elizabeth, and that which admitted the anxieties of the Protestant activists grouped around Sidney, Leicester, and Walsingham’ (Patterson 1987: 124, 119, 121); or are we to see ‘Colin less as Spenser’s mouthpiece than as his target’, since Spenser writes ‘a political critique of paradisal poetics’, with its misguided yearning for Edenic repose (Berger 1988: 386)? Perhaps we are to turn the formulation around: ‘it is the private dimension of public grief that is characterized in Colin’s melancholy’ (McCabe 1995: 40).

The woodcut suggests this latter reading, because it features a ‘portrayal of personal desolation, a stark image of the despondent “ego” that haunts Arcadia’ (McCabe 1995: 40). In particular, the woodcut shows Colin sitting in his signature locale, beside a stream and under a shade tree, with his flock scattered before him. Yet directly behind him is a tall mountain, from which the sun radiates brightly (whether rising or setting); December is only one of three woodcuts to include the sun (the others are Aprill and Maye), and it is the only woodcut to place the orb directly in the center of the picture. The mountain is arguably Mount Parnassus, the place of higher poetry, especially epic. Three other notable features appear. First, to the far left is a path leading from Colin and his sheep to a small building, which may be the ‘home’ referred to at the conclusion of ten of the twelve eclogues (but not December), or perhaps the ‘house’ of Rosalind in Colin’s August sestina (161; see 181). Second, a ‘water tank’ sits in the right foreground, beside Colin, with its ‘leonine gargoyles . . . suggest[ing] . . . a diminishing of the monarchical lion inherited by the Tudors from Aeneas’s descendent Brutus’ (Brooks-Davies 1995: 188), a political detail noticeably absent in the eclogue itself. And third, equally curious, is a broken pipe lying on the ground near Colin’s feet, similarly contrasting with the eclogue’s fiction, which shows Colin hanging his pipe in a tree.

This last image—which is the crowning action of the eclogues—epitomizes December’s complexity, because it leads in different directions (see 141n). At the end, does Colin renounce his career as a public poet, or does Spenser renounce his career as a pastoral poet in order to move on to epic? The Epilogue suggests the latter, for it is ‘written in “epic” hexameters and describ[es] . . . [Spenser’s] accomplishment as if it were already a canonical text’ (Kinney 2010: 163). In December, then, as especially in June and October, Spenser both complicates a Virgilian career and transacts it. More accurately, perhaps, Spenser uses pastoral to heighten the drama around Immerito’s fitness to become England’s new poet.

1 complaynte: Either the formal literary genre of Colin’s song (7-156) or its mode, or both.
2 God Pan: See Jan 17n, Dec 7n.
2-3 he proportioneth his life to the foure seasons of the yeare: The major trope of Colin’s song, a reversal of the pathetic fallacy, attributing natural qualities to the human, the cycle of the seasons to the stages of the life-cycle.
drouth: drought
6 Comet or blasinge starre: E.K.
6 blasinge] The alternate reading, ‘blastinge’, is also plausible, but E.K.s gloss (17) refers to ‘a blaſing [ſt]arre’. Moreover other variants in outer forme M, most notably the correct designation of this as the ‘Ægloga Duodecima’ (as opposed to the ‘Ægloga Vndecima’ as it is designated in state 1) confirm ‘blasinge’ as the corrected reading.
resembleth: likens, compares
10-11 last ende: Has apocalyptic overtones. See 2 Esd 12:25 (an apocalyptic apocryphal book). The phrase also appears twice in Ecclus: at 2:3 (where it refers to death) and at 38:20 (where it is linked to the Last Judgment at 38:22). The apocalypse is the signature feature of the cycle of poems in TVW.
1-18 The gentle . . . Colinet: Paraphrasing the opening of Marot, Eglogue au Roy 1-14, itself imitating the opening of Virgil, Eclogues 1. Marot’s pastoral persona, Robin, sits in the shade of beech trees, reviewing the seasons of his life in order to persuade his sovereign of the need for patronage. Even though E.K. never mentions Marot in December, Spenser revises Eglogue au Roy carefully (see headnote; Hoffman 1977: 34-41; Prescott 1978: 10-13; Patterson 1987: 106-32), making three major changes: 1) Spenser ‘eliminates the request for a specific favor from Pan’ (the request of patronage); 2) he makes the poet-figure ‘Petrarchan’ in featuring Colin’s unrequited love for Rosalind; and 3) ‘While Robin serves Pan, Colin challenges him’: ‘In “December,” Colin finally realizes that his refusal to be like Robin, i.e. his pride, is the direct and sole cause for all the suffering and losses he has endured’ (Moore 1982: 108-10).
1 satte beside a springe: Colin’s preferred locale (see Apr 35-6n), and it distinguishes him from both Virgil’s Tityrus and Marot’s Robin, who sit under the beech tree, ‘the tree of patronage’ (Brooks-Davies 1995; 187), no water in sight. The word ‘alone’ in line 5 draws attention to another distinguishing feature: where Tityrus occupies the pastoral locale in dialogue with Meliboeus, and Robin ends up receiving a reward from Pan, Colin sings his song to Pan in a state of solitude