The Shepherds Garland, Michael Drayton's second published work, is the first notable imitation of the Shepheardes Calender. By writing a cycle of eclogues rather than detached poems Drayton signifies Virgilian ambitions, and by adopting arguments, mottos, diction, and situations from the Shepheardes Calender he indicates that he will pursue those ambitions as a Spenserian poet. Drayton's eidolon, Rowland of the Rocks emulates Colin Clout in his profound melancholy and his high aspirations, notably expressed in the central poem of the cycle.
The first of nine eclogues (the number corresponding to the nine Muses) opens with a description of the renewal of the natural order in Spring; all rejoice save the shepherd Rowland, who directs his doleful complaint towards heaven: "My sorowes waxe, my joyes are in the wayning, | My hope decayes, and my despayre is springing, | My love hath losse, and my disgrace hath gayning, | Wrong rules, desert with teares her hands sits wringing: | Sorrow, despayre, disgrace, and wrong, doe thwart | My Joy, my love, my hope, and my desert." The general model is Spenser's Januarye, which Drayton varies by setting his complaint in the Spring, heightening the shepherd's complaint through contrast rather than sympathy with the surrounding landscape.
Francis Godolphin Waldron: "But it is in the Pastoral and Fairy stiles of writing that Drayton eminently excels — may I be bold enough to say? — every other English poet, ancient or modern! Withers and William Browne approach him nearest in the former, Shakspeare in the latter; Spenser and Gay follow Withers and Browne: Ambrose Phillips and Pope bring up the rear. Dramatic Pastoral is not here adverted to; if it were, Jonson's Sad Shepherd, and Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, might, like the first created Pair, walk hand in hand, with simple majesty, as paramount to all!" in The Biographical Mirror (1795) 1:104.
John Payne Collier: "Drayton began his career as a sacred poet, and his Harmonie of the Church came out in 1591, the year that Colin Clout's come Home again bears date. He seems to have acquired no reputation by it. His Pastorals, under the title of Idea, The Shepheards Garland, would have been sure to have attracted the attention of Spenser, since they are in some sort an imitation of his style, as well as subject" Poetical Works of Spenser (1862; 1875) 1:xcviii n.
George Saintsbury: "He began in 1591 with a volume of sacred verse, the Harmony of the Church, which, for some reason not merely undiscovered but unguessed, displeased the censors, and was never reprinted with his other works until recently. Two years later appeared Idea, The Shepherd's Garland — a collection of eclogues not to be confounded with the more famous collection of sonnets in praise of the same real or fancied mistress which appeared later. In the first of these Drayton called himself 'Rowland,' or 'Roland,' a fact on which some rather rickety structures of guesswork have been built as to allusions to him in Spenser. His next works was Mortimeriados, afterwards refashioned and completed under the title of The Barrons' Wars, and this was followed in 1597 by one of his best works, England's Heroical Epistles. The Owl, some Legends, and other poems succeeded; and in 1605 he began to collect his Works, which were frequently reprinted. The mighty poem of the Polyolbion was the fruit of his later years" History of Elizabethan Literature (1887; 1909) 140.
Oliver Elton: Drayton, like Spenser, uses the mask of a shepherd for himself — whom he calls Rowland — and his friends, and is slighted by the world, and by a harsh lady, but meditates a higher strain in consolation, like Colin in the October eclogue of the Calendar: 'My simple reed | Shall with a far more glorious rage infuse.' And if the boast was borne out by the Faerie Queene and the Hymn to Beauty, it was borne out also by the Heroical Epistles, by parts of the Poly-Olbion, and by the Ballad of Agincourt. Drayton also copes with other familiar themes, such as the rustic singing-match, a pleasant manner of duet that strikes back to the Sicilian roots of the pastoral; and another ancient contest that he versifies is that of youth and age. He prefers to use the ten-syllabled line, and he does his part with Spenser in beating it out into shape and loveliness, preferably in stanzas of five lines or six" Michael Drayton: a Critical Study (1905) 33-34.
Herbert E. Cory: "The first eclogue, in which 'Poore Rowland, malcontent, bewayles the winter of his griefe,' is in the manner of Spenser's Januarie. The second eclogue follows the motive of Februarie" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 245-46.
Tillotson and Newdigate: "There is some general resemblance to SC Januarye: both are stanzaic monologues by the 'hero' of the pastorals; both Colin Clout and Rowland pray to Pan; both eclogues end with evening and the shepherd's return to his sheep. But Drayton's eclogue is set in spring, not winter, so that he emphasizes the contrast, rather than the sympathy, between Rowland's mood and the season; as Spenser does in May. Further, Rowland's complaint is not clearly a love-complaint; its language is religious" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:6.
William Wells: "The First and Ninth Eglogs follow Januarye and December so closely in verse form, tone, subject, and turns of speech that Drayton would seem to be inviting the reader's comparison of the love-stricken shepherds Rowland and Colin" Spenser Allusions (1972) 31.
When as the joyfull spring brings in
The Summers sweete reliefe:
Poore Rowland malcontent bewayles
The winter of his griefe.
Now Phoebus from the equinoctiall Zone,
Had task'd his teame unto the higher spheare,
And from the brightnes of his glorious throne,
Sends forth his Beames to light the lower ayre,
The cheerfull welkin, comen this long look'd hower,
Distils adowne full many a silver shower.
Fayre Philomel night-musicke of the spring,
Sweetly recordes her tunefull harmony,
And with deepe sobbes, and dolefull sorrowing,
Before fayre Cinthya actes her Tragedy:
The Throstlecock, by breaking of the day,
Chants to his sweete, full many a lovely lay.
The crawling snake, against the morning sunne,
Now streaks him in his rayn-bow coloured cote:
The darkesome shades, as loathsome he doth shunne,
Inchanted with the Birds sweete silvan note:
The Buck forsakes the launds where he hath fed,
And scornes the hunt should view his velvet head.
Through all the partes, dispersed is the blood,
The lustie spring, in flower of all her pride,
Man, bird, and beast, and fish, in pleasant flood,
Rejoycing all in this most joyfull tide:
Save Rowland leaning on a Ranpick tree,
O'r growne with age, forlorne with woe was he.
Oh blessed Pan, thou shepheards god sayth he,
O thou Creator of the starrie light,
Whose wonderous workes shew thy divinitie,
Thou wise inventor of the day and night,
Refreshing nature with the lovely spring,
Quite blemisht erst, with stormy winters sting.
O thou strong builder of the firmament,
Who placedst Phoebus in his fierie Carre,
And by thy mighty Godhead didst invent,
The planets mansions that they should not jarre,
Ordeyning Phebe, mistresse of the night,
From Tytans flame to steale her forked light.
Even from the cleerest christall shining throne,
Under whose feete the heavens are low abased,
Commaunding in thy majestie alone,
Whereas the fiery Cherubines are placed:
Receive my vowes as incense unto thee,
My tribute due to thy eternitie.
O shepheards soveraigne, yea receive in gree,
The gushing teares, from never-resting eyes,
And let those prayers which I shall make to thee,
Be in thy sight perfumed sacrifice:
Let smokie sighes be pledges of contrition,
For follies past to make my soules submission.
Submission makes amends for all my misse,
Contrition a refined life begins,
Then sacred sighes, what thing more precious is?
And prayers be oblations for my sinnes,
Repentant teares, from heaven-beholding eyes,
Ascend the ayre, and penetrate the skies.
My sorowes waxe, my joyes are in the wayning,
My hope decayes, and my despayre is springing,
My love hath losse, and my disgrace hath gayning,
Wrong rules, desert with teares her hands sits wringing:
Sorrow, despayre, disgrace, and wrong, doe thwart
My Joy, my love, my hope, and my desert.
Devouring time shall swallow up my sorrowes,
And strong beliefe shall torture black despaire,
Death shall orewhelme disgrace, in deepest furrowes,
And Justice laie my wrongs upon the Beere:
Thus Justice, death, beleefe, and time, ere long,
Shall end my woes, despayre, disgrace, and wrong.
Yet time shall be expir'd and lose his date,
And full assurance cancell strongest trust,
Eternitie shall trample on deathes pate,
And Justice shall surcease when all be just:
Thus time, beleefe, death, Justice, shall surcease,
By date, assurance, eternity, and peace.
Thus breathing from the Center of his soule,
The tragick accents of his extasie,
His sun-set eyes gan here and there to roule,
Like one surprisde with sodaine lunacie:
And being rouzde out of melancholly,
Flye whirle-winde thoughts unto the heavens quoth he.
Now in the Ocean Tytan quencht his flame,
And summond Cinthya to set up her light,
The heavens with their glorious starry frame,
Preparde to crowne the sable-vayled night:
When Rowland from this time-consumed stock,
With stone-colde hart now stalketh towards his flock.
Quid queror? & toto facio convicia coelo:
Di quoque habent oculos, di quoque pectus habent.