1579
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Shepheardes Calender I: Januarye.

The Shepheardes Calender conteyning Twelve Aeglogues proportionable to the Twelve Monethes. Entitled to the noble and vertuous Gentleman most worthy of all Titles both of Learning and Chevalrie M. Philip Sidney.

Edmund Spenser


Edmund Spenser, writing anonymously, introduces his famous poetic persona, Colin Clout. The biographical "Januarye" and "December" eclogues in the Shepheardes Calender set a pattern for the life of an ideal poet that was still in active use more than two centuries later.

John Hughes: "This Aeglogue is a Soliloquy of Colin Clout, by which Name the Poet means himself; complaining of his unprosperous Love of Rosalind, and comparing his Condition to that of his wretched Weather-beaten Flock, and to the rigorous Season of the Year" Works of Spenser (1715) 4:1043.

Selected notes from Todd's Works of Spenser (1805):

Colin Clout is Spenser himself. See the Glosse of E. K. The name seems to have been adopted from Skelton's poem, entitled The Boke of COLYN CLOUT: See his Works, Lond. 1736, p. 179. T. WARTON.

Hobbinol is our author's friend, Gabriel Harvey; who is often introduced, under the same fictitious name, in these Pastorals. T. WARTON.

Rosalind is our poet's mistress, whom he is supposed to have fallen in love with, soon after his departure from the University; and whose cruelty is frequently lamented in the course of these Pastorals. T. WARTON.



COLIN CLOUT.
A Shepherd's Boy (no better do him call)
When Winters wasteful Spight was almost spent,
All in a Sunshine-day, as did befall,
Led forth his Flock, that had been long ypent.
So faint they wox, and feeble in the Fold,
That now uneathes their Feet could them uphold.

All as the Sheep, such was the Shepherd's Look,
For pale and wan he was, (alas the while!)
May seem he lov'd, or else some care he took:
Well couth he tune his Pipe, and frame his Stile.
Tho to a Hill his fainting Flock he led,
And thus he plain'd, the while his Sheep there fed.

Ye Gods of Love, that pity Lovers Pain,
(If any Gods the Pain of Lovers pity)
Look from above, where you in Joys remain,
And bow your Ears unto my doleful Ditty.
And Pan thou Shepherd's God, that once did love,
Pity the Pains, that thou thy self didst prove.

Thou barren Ground, whom Winter's Wrath hath wasted,
Art made a Mirror, to behold my Plight;
Whylom thy fresh Spring flower'd, and after hasted
Thy Summer proud, with Daffadillies dight:
And now is come thy Winter's stormy State,
Thy Mantle marr'd, wherein thou maskedst late.

Such Rage as Winter, reigneth in my Heart,
My Life-blood freezing, with unkindly Cold:
Such stormy Stours do breed my baleful Smart,
As if my Years were waste, and woxen old.
And yet, alas, but now my Spring begun,
And yet, alas, it is already done.

You naked Trees, whose shady Leaves are lost,
Wherein the Birds were wont to build their Bower,
And now are cloth'd with Moss and hoary Frost,
Instead of Blosms, wherewith your Buds did flower;
I see Your Tears, that from your Boughs do rain,
Whose Drops in drery Isicles remain.

Also my lustful Leafe is dry and sear,
My timely Buds with wailing all are wasted;
The Blossom, which my Branch of Youth did bear,
With breathed Sighs is blown away, and blasted:
And from mine Eyes the drizling Tears descend,
As on your Boughs the Isicles depend.

Thou feeble Flock, whose Fleece is rough and rent,
Whose Knees are weak, through Fast and evil Fare,
Maist witness well, by thy ill Government,
Thy Master's Mind is overcome with Care.
Thou weak, I wan: Thou lean, I quite forlorn;
With mourning pine I, you with pining mourn.

A thousand sithes I curse that careful Hour,
Wherein I long the neighbour Town to see:
And eke ten thousand sithes I bless the Stour,
Wherein I saw so fair a sight as she.
Yet all for naught: Such sight hath bred my Bane:
Ah God, that Love should breed both Joy and Pain!

It is not Hobbinol, wherefore I plain,
Albe my Love he seek with daily Suit:
His clownish Gifts and Courtsies I disdain,
His Kids, his Cracknels, and his early Fruit.
Ah, foolish Hobbinol, thy Gifts been vain:
Colin them gives to Rosalind again.

I love thilk Lass, (alas, why do I love?)
And am forlorn, (alas, why am I lore?)
She deigns not my good Will, but doth reprove,
And of my rural Musick holdeth scorn.
Shepherds Device she hateth as the Snake,
And laughs the Songs that Colin Clout doth make.

Wherefore my Pipe, albe rude Pan thou please,
Yet for thou pleasest not where most I would,
And thou unlucky Muse, that wontst to ease
My musing Mind, yet canst not, when thou should;
Both Pipe and Muse shall sore the while abie.
So broke his Oaten Pipe, and down did lie.

By that the welked Phoebus 'gan avail
His weary Wain, and now the frosty Night
Her Mantle black through Heaven 'gan over-hale.
Which seen, the pensive Boy half in despight
Arose and homeward drove his fallen Sheep,
Whose hanging Heads did seem his careful Case to weep.

COLIN'S EMBLEM.
Anchora Speme.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:1043-46]