1579
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Shepheardes Calender: Epilogue.

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, declares that his poem will not rival Chaucer's verse or Piers Plowman, the poets he emulates in his moral eclogues. The lines imitate the conclusion of Chaucer's Troilus, 5:1786-92.

Thomas Warton: "He even seems, in the Pastorals, to have attempted an imitation of the visions of Pierce Plowman; for after exhorting his muse not to contend with Chaucer, he adds, 'Nor with the Plowman that the pilgrim playde awhile.' And besides, that his Pastorals might appear a more complete specimen of a work in old English, he has given them the title of an old book called the SHEPHEARD'S KALENDER, first printed by Wynkin a Worde, and reprinted about twenty years before our author published his Pastorals, viz. 1559" Observations on the Faerie Queene (1754) 91-92.



Lo! I have made a Calendar for every Year,
That Steel in strength, and Time in Durance shall out-wear:
And if I marked well the Stars Revolution,
It shall continue till the Word's Dissolution,
To teach the ruder Shepherd how to feed his Sheep,
And from the Falser's fraud his folded Flock to keep.
Go, little Calendar, thou hast a free Passport;
Go but a lowly Gate amongst the meaner Sort.
Dare not to match thy Pipe with Tityrus his Stile,
Nor with the Pilgrim that the Plough-man-plaid awhile:
But follow them far off, and their high Steps adore,
The Better please, the Worse displease; I ask no more.

Merce non mercede.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:1118]