In Spenser's most autobiographical poem Colin Clout describes a visit to London and return to Ireland. The catalogue of mostly anonymous poets has attracted considerable speculation over the centuries. "Palemon" is identified as Thomas Churchyard, who had praised Spenser in Chuchyards Challenge (1593); Edmond Malone identifies "Thestylis" as Lodowick Bryskett, author of The Mourning Muse of Thestylis, which appears in Spenser's Complaints, also 1595. Others identifications remain in dispute.
John Hughes: "Perhaps too there is a certain Age most proper for Pastoral Writing; and tho' the same Genius shou'd arise afterwards to greater Excellencies, it may grow less capable of this. Accordingly in the Poem call'd Colin Clout's come home again, which was written a considerable time after, we find him less a Shepherd than at first: He had then been drawn out of his Retirement, had appear'd at Court, and been engag'd in an Employment which brought him into a Variety of Business and Acquaintance, and gave him a quite different Sett of Ideas. And tho' this Poem is not without its Beauties; yet what I wou'd here observe is, that in the Pastoral Kind it is not so simple and unmix'd, and consequently not so perfect as the Eclogues, of which I have perhaps given the Reason" Works of Edmund Spenser (1715) 1:xcviii-ix.
Thomas Birch: "He was honour'd with a Visit from Sir WALTER RALEGH, with whom he must have been acquainted, while the latter was a Captain under Lord GREY in Ireland. This Visit appears to have been in the Summer of the Year 1589, after Sir WALTER's Return from the Expedition to Portugal with Don ANTONIO, when the Jealousy of his Rival the Earl of Essex confin'd him for some Time to Ireland. SPENSER relates the Circumstances of this Visit in his Pastoral, intitled, Colin Clout's come home again; in which RALEGH is describ'd under the Name of the Shepherd of the Ocean" Life of Spenser in Faerie Queene (1751) 1:xix.
John Upton: "Perhaps he means by Amintas, both in Colin Clout's come Home again, and in the Fairy Queen, Henry Lord Compton" Faerie Queene (1758) 1:xi.
Edmond Malone: "Spenser, whose history, like that of many of our celebrated English writers, is involved in a mist of confusion and error, published at London, in 1595, or consented to the publication of, a poem, called Colin Clout's Come Home Again. The subject of this piece is his own return to his humble mansion at Kilcolman, in the south of Ireland, after having visited London in company with Sir Walter Ralegh, to whom the poem is addressed; who, in April 1589, having been 'chased from the English court' by Lord Essex, had retired to his estate in the county of Corke, from whence he made an excursion to Spenser's castle, which was situated in the same county. This production, however, may have taken its rise from some visit of Ralegh to Ireland, at a later period; and even if it alluded to that of 1589, it was written some years afterwards. To the Dedicatory Epistle the printer has erroneously affixed a false date: 'From my house of Kilcolman the 27 of December 5, 1591;' for the poem itself was composed unquestionably after the middle of 1594, and perhaps in the December of that year. This error of the date, which, so far as Shakspeare has any connexion with this piece, is a material consideration, is ascertained by the verses that it contains, addressed to Alice, Countess of Derby, under the name of Amaryllis, to whom, by the title of Lady Strange, The Tears of the Muses had been dedicated. She had now become a widow by the death of her husband, Ferdinand, the fifth Earl of Derby, who enjoyed that title little more than six months, dying April 16, 1594. To this event the poet has particularly alluded. The error of the date of this poem is also ascertained by Spenser's Daphnaida, published in 1596, the Epistle Dedicatorie of which is dated 'London, the first of Januarie, 1591;' i.e. 1591-2; for this poet could not have affixed his name to a dedication at Kilcolman in Ireland, on Dec. 27, 1591, and five days afterwards write another dedication in London" Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare (1790; 1821) 2:226-28.
Retrospective Review: "In the year 1595, Spenser published Colin Clout's come Home again, a sort of pastoral, giving an account of his return to England, of his presentation to Queen Elizabeth, and of several persons attached to the court. It might be highly interesting at the time it was written, but its chief interest is now lost; it possesses nothing striking, either in character or description, to attract a modern reader" 12 (1825) 155.
Oliver Elton: "It is likely that Spenser soon requited his chief lieutenant in pastoral with a famous verse.... I accept the view, though not all the reasons, of Todd, Minto, and Fleay, for identifying Aetion with Drayton.... The references fit Drayton better than Shakespeare, who had made no pastorals" Michael Drayton: a Critical Study (1905) 37-38 and note.
The Shepherd's Boy (best knowen by that Name)
That after Tityrus first sung his Lay,
Lays of sweet Love, without Rebuke or Blame,
Sate (as his Custom was) upon a day,
Charming his oaten Pipe unto his Peers,
The Shepherd Swains that did about him play;
Who all the while with greedy listful Ears,
Did stand astonish'd at his curious Skill,
Like heartless Deer, dismay'd with Thunder's Sound.
At last, whenas he piped had his fill,
He rested him: and sitting then around,
One of those Grooms (a jolly Groom was he,
As ever piped on an oaten Reed,
And lov'd this Shepherd dearest in degree,
Hight Hobbinol) 'gan thus to him areed:
Colin, my Life! my Life! how great a Loss
Had all the Shepherds Nation by thy lack?
And I, poor Swain, of many, greatest Cross:
That sith thy Muse first since thy turning back
Was heard to sound, as she was wont, on high,
Hast made us all so blessed and so blythe.
Whilst thou west hence, all dead in Dole did lie;
The Woods were heard to wail full many a Sythe,
And all their Birds with Silence to complain;
The Fields with faded Flowers did seem to mourn,
And all their Flocks from feeding to refrain;
The running Waters wept for thy Return,
And all their Fish with Languor did lament:
But now both Woods, and Fields, and Floods revise,
Sith thou are come, their Cause of Merriment,
That us late dead, hast made again alive.
But were it not too painful to repeat
The passed Fortunes which to thee befel
In thy late Voyage, we would thee intreat,
Now at thy leisure them to us to tell.
To whom the Shepherd gently answer'd thus:
Hobbin, thou temptest me to that I covet;
For of Good passed, newly to discuss,
By double Usury doth twise renew it.
And since I saw that Angel's blessed Eye,
Her World's bright Sun, her Heaven's fairest Light,
My Mind, full of my Thought's Satiety,
Doth feed on sweet Contentment of that Sight:
Since that same day in nought I take delight,
He feeling have in any earthly Pleasure,
But in Remembrance of that Glory bright,
My Life's sole Bliss, my Heart's eternal Treasure.
Wake then my Pipe, my sleepy Muse awake,
Till I have told her Praises lasting long:
Hobbin desires, thou mayst it not forsake;
Hark then, ye jolly Shepherds, to my Song.
With that, they all 'gan throng about him near,
With hungry Ears to hear his Harmony;
The whiles their Flocks, devoid of Danger's Fear,
Did round about them feed at liberty.
One day (quoth he) I sate (as was my Trade)
Under the foot of Mole, that Mountain hore,
Keeping my Sheep amongst the cooly Shade,
Of the green Alders by the Mulla's Shore;
There a strange Shepherd chaunc'd to find me out,
Whether allured with my Pipe's Delight,
Whose pleasing Sound yshrilled far about,
Or thither led by chance, I know not right:
Whom when I asked from what Place he came,
And how he hight; himself he did ycleep
The Shepherd of the Ocean by Name,
And said he came far from the Main-Sea deep.
He sitting me beside in that same Shade,
Provoked me to play some pleasant Fit;
And when he heard the Musick which I made,
He found himself full greatly pleas'd at it:
Yet, aemuling my Pipe, he took in hond
My Pipe, before that aemuled of many,
And plaid thereon (for well that Skill he cond)
Himself as skilful in that Art as any.
He pip'd, I sung; and when he sung, I piped;
By change of Turns, each making other merry;
Neither envying other, nor envied,
So piped we, until we both were weary.
There interrupting him, a bonny Swain,
That Cuddy hight, him thus atween bespake:
And should it not thy ready Course restrain,
I would request thee, Colin, for my sake,
To tell what thou-didst sing, when he did play.
For well I ween it worth recounting was
Whether it were some Hymn, or moral Lay,
Or Carol made to praise thy loved Lass.
Nor of my Love, nor of my Lass, quoth he,
I then did sing, as then Occasion fell:
For Love had me forlorn, forlorn of me,
That made me in that Desart choose to dwell.
But of my River Bregog's Love I song,
Which to the shiny Mulla he did bear,
And yet doth bear, and ever will, so long
As Water doth within his Banks appear.
Of Fellowship, said then that bonny Boy,
Record to us that lovely Lay again:
The Stay whereof shall nought these Ears annoy,
Who all that Colin makes, do covet fain.
Hear then, quoth he, the Tenor of my Tale,
In sort as I it to that Shepherd told:
No Leasing new, nor Grandame's Fable stale,
But antient Truth, confirm'd with Credence old.
Old Father Mole (Mole hight that Mountain gray,
That walls the North-side of Armulla Dale)
He had a Daughter fresh as flower of May,
Which gave that Name unto that pleasant Vale;
Mulla, the Daughter of old Mole, so hight
The Nymph, which of that Water-Course has charge,
That springing out of Mole, doth run down right
To Buttevant; where spreading forth at large,
It giveth Name unto that antient City,
Which Kilnemullah cleeped is of old:
Whose cragged Ruines breed great Ruth and Pity
To Travellers, which it from far behold.
Full fain she lov'd, and was belov'd full fain
Of her own Brother River, Bregog hight,
So hight because of this deceitful Train,
Which he with Mulla wrought to win Delight.
But her old Sire, more careful of her Good,
And meaning her much better to prefer,
Did think to match her with the neighbour Flood,
Which Alla hight, Broad-water called far;
And wrought so well with his continual Pain,
That he that River for his Daughter won:
The Dowre agreed, the Day assigned plain,
The Place appointed where it should be done.
Nath'less the Nymph her former Liking held;
For Love will not be drawn, but must be led,
And Bregog did so well her Fancy weld,
That her Good-will he got, her first to wed.
But for her Father, sitting still on high,
Did warily still watch which way she went,
And eke from far observ'd with jealous Eye
Which way his Course the wanton Bregog bent.
Him to deceive for all his watchful Ward,
The wily Lover did devise this Slight;
First into many Parts his Stream he shared,
That whilst the one was Watch, the other might
Pass unespy'd to meet her by the way:
And then besides, those little Streams to broken,
He under around so closely did convey,
That of their Passage doth appear no Token,
Till they into the Mulla's Water slide.
So secretly did he his Love enjoy:
Yet not so secret but it was descride,
And told her Father by a Shepherd's Boy;
Who wondrous wroth for that so foul Despight,
In great Avenge did roll down From his Hill
Huge mighty Stones, the which encomber might
His Passage, and his Water-Courses spill.
So of a River, which he was of odd,
He none was made, but scatter'd all to nought,
And, lost among those Rocks into him rold,
Did lose his Name: so dear his Love he bought.
Which having said, him Thestylis bespake:
Now by my Life this was a merry Lay,
Worthy of Colin's self, that did it make.
But read now eke, of Friendship I thee pray,
What Ditty did that other Shepherd sing?
For I do covet most the same to hear
As Men use most to Covet foreign thing.
That shall I eke, quoth he, to you declare:
His Song was all a lamentable Lay
Of great Unkindness, and of Usage hard
Of Cynthia, the Lady of the Sea,
Which from her Presence, faultless him debarr'd:
And ever and anon with Singults rise,
He cried out, to make his Undersong,
Ah! my Love's Queen, and Goddess of my Life,
Who shall me pity, when thou doost me wrong?
Then 'gan a gentle bonny Lass to speak,
That Martine hight: Right well he sure did plain,
That could great Cynthia's sore Displeasure break,
And move to take him to her Grace again.
But tell on further, Colin, as befel
'Twixt him and thee, what thee did hence dissuade.
When thus our Pipes we both had wearied well,
Quoth he, and each an end of singing made,
He 'gan to cast great Liking to my Lore,
And great Disliking to my luckless Lot,
That banish'd had my self, like Wight forelore,
Into that Waste, where I was quite forgot:
The which to leave, thenceforth he counsel'd me,
Unmeet for Man, in whom was ought regardful,
And wend with him, his Cynthia to see;
Whose Grace was great, and Bounty most rewardful.
Besides her peerless Skill in making well,
And all the Ornaments of wondrous Wit,
Such as all Womankind did far excel;
Such as the World admir'd, and praised it.
So what with Hope of Good, and Hate of Ill,
He me persuaded forth with him to fare:
Nought took I with me, but mine oaten Quill,
Small Needments else need Shepherds to prepare.
So to the Sea we came; the Sea, that is,
A World of Waters heaped up on high,
Rolling like Mountains in wild Wilderness,
Horrible, hideous, roaring with hoarse Cry.
And is the Sea, quoth Coridon, so fearful?
Fearful much more, quoth he, than Heart can fear:
Thousand wild Beasts, with deep Mouths gaping direful,
Therein still wait, poor Passengers to tear.
Who Life doth loath, and longs Death to behold,
Before he die, already dead with Fear,
And yet would live with Heart half stony cold,
Let him to Sea, and he shall see it there.
And yet as ghastly dreadful as it seems,
Bold Men, presuming Life for Gain to sell,
Dare tempt that Gulf, and in those wandring Streams
Seek ways unknown, ways leading down to Hell.
For as we stood there waiting on the Strond,
Behold, an huge great Vessel to us came,
Dancing upon the Water's Back to Lond,
As if it scorn'd the Danger of the same;
Yet was it but a wooden Frame and Frail,
Glewed together with some subtile Matter;
Yet had it Arms and Wings, and Head and Tail,
And Life to move it self upon the Water.
Strange thing, how bold and swift the Monster was!
That neither car'd for Wind, nor Hail, nor Rain.
Nor swelling Waves, but thorough them did pass
So proudly, that she made them rore again.
The same aboord us gently did receave,
And without Harm us far away did bear,
So far, that Land, our Mother, us did leave,
And nought but Sea and Heaven to us appear.
Then heartless quite, and full of inward Fear,
That Shepherd I besought to me to tell,
Under what Sky, or in what World we were,
In which I saw no living People dwell.
Who me recomforting all that he might,
Told me that that same was the Regiment
Of a great Shepherdess, that Cynthia hight,
His Liege, his Lady, and his Life's Regent.
If then, quoth I, a Shepherdess she be,
Where be the Flocks and Herds which she doth keep?
And where may I the Hills and Pastures see,
On which she useth for to feed her Sheep?
These be the Hills, quoth he, the Surges high,
On which fair Cynthia her Herds doth feed:
Her Herbs be thousand Fishes with their Fry;
Which in the Bosom of the Billows breed.
Of them the Shepherd, which has Charge in chief,
Is Triton, blowing loud his wreathed Horn;
At Sound whereof, they all for their Relief
Wend to and fro at Evening and at Morn.
And Proteus eke with him does drive his Heard
Of stinking Seales and Porcpisces together,
With hoary Head, and dewy dropping Beard
Compelling them which way he list and whither.
And I among the rest of many least,
Have in the Ocean Charge to me assign'd;
Where I will live or die at her Beheast,
And serve and honour her with faithful Mind.
Besides an hundred Nymphs, all heavenly born,
And of immortal Race, do still attend,
To wash fair Cynthia's Sheep, when they be shorn,
And fold them up, when they have made an end.
Those be the Shepherds which my Cynthia serve
At Sea, besides a thousand more at Land:
For Land and Sea my Cynthia doth deserve
To have in her Commandement at hand.
Thereat I wonder much, till wondring more
And more, at length we Land far off descryde;
Which sight much gladded me; for much afore
I fear'd, lest Land we never should have eyde:
Thereto our Ship her Course directly bent,
As if the way she perfectly had known.
We Lynday pass; by that same Name is ment
An island which the first to West was shown.
From thence another World of Land we kend,
Floating amid the Sea in Jeopardy,
And round about with mighty white Rocks hend,
Against the Seas encroaching Cruelty.
Those same, the Shepherd told me, were the Fields
In which Dame Cynthia her Land-herds fed,
Fair goodly Fields, than which Armulla yields
None fairer, nor more fruitful to be red.
The first of which we nigh approached, was
An high Head-land, thrust far into the Sea,
Like to an Horn, whereof the Name it has,
Yet seem'd to be a goodly pleasant Lea.
There did a lofty Mount at first us greet,
Which did a stately Heap of Stones uprear,
That seem'd amid the Surges for to fleet,
Much greater than that Frame, which us did bear:
There did our Ship her fruitful Womb unlade,
And put us all ashore on Cynthia's Land.
What Land is that thou meanst, then Cuddy said,
And is there other than whereon we hand?
Ah! Cuddy, then quoth Colin, thou's a Fon,
That hast not seen least part of Nature's Work:
Much more there is unken'd, than thou doost kon,
And much more that does from Mens Knowledge lurk.
For that same Land much larger is than this,
And other Men, and Beasts, and Birds doth feed:
There fruitful Corn, fair Trees, fresh Herbage is,
And all things else that living Creatures need.
Besides, most goodly Rivers there appear,
No whit inferior to thy Fanchin's Praise,
Or unto Allo, or to Mulla clear:
Nought hast thou, foolish Boy, seen in thy days.
But if that Land be there, quoth he, as here,
And is their Heaven likewise there all one?
And if like Heaven, be heavenly Graces there,
Like as in this same World where we do wonne?
Both Heaven and heavenly Graces do much more,
Quoth he, abound in that same Land, than this;
For there all happy Peace and plenteous Store
Conspire in one to make contented Bliss:
No Wailing there nor Wretchedness is heard,
No bloody Issues, nor no Leprosies,
No griesly Famine, nor no raging Sweard,
No nightly Bodrags, nor no Hue and Cries:
The Shepherds there abroad may safely lie,
On Hills and Downs, withouten Dread or Danger;
No ravenous Wolves the Goodman's Hope destroy,
Nor Outlaws fell affray the Forest-Ranger.
There learned Arts do flourish in great Honour,
And Poets Wits are had in peerless Price:
Religion hath Lay-powre to rest upon her,
Advancing Vertue, and suppressing Vice.
For end, all Good, all Grace there freely grows,
Had People Grace it gratefully to use:
For God his Gifts there plenteously bestows,
But graceless Men them greatly do abuse.
But say on further, then said Corylas,
The rest of thine Adventures that betided.
Forth on our Voyage we by Land did pass,
Quoth he, as that same Shepherd still us guided,
Until that we to Cynthia's Presence came:
Whose Glory, greater than my simple Thought,
I found much greater than the former Fame;
Such Greatness l cannot compare to ought:
But if I her like ought on earth might read,
I would her liken to a Crown of Lillies,
Upon a Virgin Bride's adorned Head,
With Roses dight, and Goolds and Daffadilies;
Or like the Circlet of a Turtle true,
In which all Colours of the Rainbow be;
Or like fair Phoebe's Girlond shining new,
In which all pure Perfection one may see.
But vain it is to think by Paragon
Of earthly things, to judge of things divine:
Her Power, her Mercy, and her Wisdom, none
Can deem, but who the Godhead can define.
Why then do I base Shepherd bold and blind,
Presume the things so sacred to prophane?
More fit it is t' adore with humble Mind
The Image of the Heavens in Shape humane.
With that, Alexis broke his Tale asunder,
Saying, by wondring at thy Cynthia's Praise,
Colin, thy self thou mak'st us more to wonder,
And her upraising, doost thy self upraise.
But let us hear what Grace she shewed thee,
And how that Shepherd strange thy cause advanc'd?
The Shepherd of the Ocean (quoth he)
Unto that Goddess' Grace me first enhanc'd;
And to mine oaten Pipe enclin'd her Ear,
That she thenceforth therein gan take delight,
And it desir'd at timely hours to hear,
All were my Notes but rude and roughly dight.
For not by measure of her own great Mind,
And wondrous Worth she mott my simple Song,
But joy'd that country Shepherd ought could find
Worth hearkening to, emongst that learned Throng.
Why, said Alexis, then what needeth she,
That is so great a Shepherdess her self;
And hath so many Shepherds in her See,
To hear thee sing, a simple silly Elf?
Or be the Shepherds which do serve her laisie?
That they list not their merry Pipes apply?
Or be their Pipes untunable and craisie,
That they cannot her honour worthily?
Ah nay, said Colin, neither so nor so:
For better Shepherds be not under skie,
Nor better able, when they list to blow
Their Pipes aloud, her Name to glorifie.
There is good Harpalus, now woxen aged
In faithful Service of fair Cynthia;
And there is Coridon, but meanly waged,
Yet a blest Wit of most I know this day.
And there is sad Alcyon, bent to mourn,
Though fit to frame an everlasting Dittie,
Whose gentle Spright for Daphne's Death doth tourn
Sweet Lays of Love, so endless Plaints of Pittie.
Ah pensive Boy, pursue that brave Conceit,
In thy sweet Eglantine of Meriflure;
Lift up thy Notes unto their wonted hight,
That may thy Muse and Mates to Mirth allure.
There eke is Palin, worthy of great Praise,
Albe he envie at my rustick Quill;
And there is pleasing Alcon, could he raise
His Tunes from Layes, to matter of more Skill.
And there is old Palemon, free from Spight,
Whose carefull Pipe may make the Hearer rew:
Yet he himself may rewed be more right,
That sung so long untill quite hoarse be grew.
And there is Alabaster, throughly taught
In all his Skill, though knowen yet to few:
Yet were he known to Cynthia as he ought,
His Eliseis would be read anew.
Who lives that can match that heroick Song,
Which he hath of that mighty Princess made?
O dearest Dread, do not thy self that wrong.
To let thy Fame lie so in hidden shade;
But call it forth, O call him forth to thee
To end thy Glory, which he hath begun:
That when he finisht hath as it should be,
No braver Poem can be under Sun.
Nor Po nor Tyber's Swans, so much renown'd,
Nor all the Brood of Greece fo highly prais'd,
Can match that Muse, when it with Bayes is crown'd,
And to the pitch of her Perfection rais'd.
And there is a new Shepherd late up sprong,
The which doth all afore him far surpass;
Appearing well in that well-tuned Song,
Which late he sung unto a scornful Lass.
Yet doth his trembling Muse but lowly flie,
As daring not too rashly mount on hight,
And doth her tender Plumes as yet but trie
In Love's soft Layes, and looser Thoughts delight;
Then rouze thy Feathers quickly, Daniel,
And to what course thou please thy self advance:
But most, me seems, thy Accent will excel
In tragick Plaints and passionate Mischance.
And there that Shepherd of the Ocean is,
That spends his Wit in Love's consuming Smart:
Full sweetly tempred is that Muse of his,
That can impierce a Prince's mighty Heart.
There also is (ah no, he is not now!)
But since I said he is, he quite is gone,
Amyntas quite is gone and lies full low,
Having his Amarillis left to mone.
Help, O ye Shepherds, help ye all in this,
Help Amarillis this her Loss to mourn;
Her Loss is yours, your Loss Amyntas is,
Amyntas, Flower of Shepherd's Pride forlorn.
He, whilst he lived, was the noblest Swain,
That ever piped on an oaten Quill:
Both did he other, which could pipe, maintain,
And eke could pipe himself with passing Skill.
And there, though last, not least is Aetion,
A gentler Shepherd may no where be found;
Whose Muse full of high Thoughts Invention,
Doth like himself heroically sound.
All these, and many others moe remain,
Now after Astrofell is dead and gone;
But while as Astrofell did live and reign,
Amongst all these was none his Paragon:
All these do florish in their sundry kind,
And do their Cynthia immortal make;
Yet found I Liking in her royal Mind,
Not for my Skill, but for that Shepherd's sake.
Then spake a lovely Lass, hight Lucida:
Shepherd, enough of Shepherds thou hast told,
Which favour thee, and honour Cynthia;
But of so many Nymphs which she doth hold
In her Retinew, thou hast nothing said;
That seems, with none of them thou favour foundest,
Or art ingrateful to each gentle Maid,
That none of all their due Deserts resoundest.
Ah far be it, quoth Colin Clout, for me,
That I of gentle Maids should ill deserve:
For that my self I do profess to be
Vassal to one, whom all my days I serve.
The Beam of Beauty sparkled from above,
The Flowre of Virtue and pure Chastitie;
The Blossom of sweet Joy and perfect Love,
The Pearl of peerless Grace and Modesty:
To her my Thoughts I daily dedicate,
To her my Heart I nightly martyrize;
To her my Love I lowly do prostrate,
To her my Life I wholly sacrifice;
My Thought, my Heart, my Love, my Life is she;
And I hers ever only, ever one:
One ever I, all vowed hers to be,
One ever I, and others never none.
Then thus Melissa said: Thrice happy Maid,
Whom thou doost so enforce to deify;
That Woods, and Hills, and Valleys, thou hast made
Her Name to eccho unto Heaven high.
But say, who else vouchsafed thee of Grace?
They all, quoth he, me graced goodly well,
That all I praise: but in the highest place,
Urania, Sister unto Astrofell,
In whose brave Mind, as in a golden Coffer,
All heavenly Gifts and Riches locked are:
More rich then Pearls of Inde, or Gold of Opher,
And in her Sex more wonderful and rare.
Ne less praise-worthy I Theana read,
Whose goodly Beams tho they be over-dight
With mourning Store of careful Widowhead,
Yet through that darksom Veil do glister bright.
She is the Well of Bounty and brave Mind,
Excelling most in Glory and great Light:
She is the Ornament of Woman-kind,
And Court's chief Girlond, with all Vertues dight.
Therefore great Cynthia her in chiefest Grace
Doth hold, and next unto her self advance;
Well worthy she so honourable Place,
For her great Worth and noble Governance.
Ne less praise-worthy is her Sister dear,
Fair Marian, the Muses only Dearling;
Whose Beauty shineth as the Morning clear,
With silver Dew upon the Roses pearling.
Ne less praise-worthy is Mansilia,
Best known by bearing up great Cynthia's Train:
That same is she to whom Daphnaida
Upon her Neece's Death I did complain.
She is the Pattern of true Womanhead,
And only Mirror of Feminity:
Worthy next after Cynthia to tread,
As she is next her in Nobility.
Ne less praise-worthy Galathea seems
Than best of all that honourable Crew,
Fair Galathea with bright shining Beams,
Inflaming feeble Eyes that her do view.
She there then waited upon Cynthia,
Yet there is not her Wonne; but here with us
About the Borders of our rich Cosma,
Now made of Maa, the Nymph delicious.
Ne less praise-worthy fair Neaera is;
Neaera, ours, not theirs, though there she be:
For of the famous Shure, the Nymph she is,
For high Desert, advaunst to that Degree.
She is the Bloom of Grace and Curtisie,
Adorned with all honourable Parts:
She is the Branch of true Nobility,
Belov'd of high and low with faithful Hearts.
Ne less praise-worthy Stella do I read,
Tho nought my Praises of her needed are;
Whom Verse of noblest Shepherd rarely dead
Hath prais'd, and rais'd above each other Starre.
Ne less praise-worthy are the Sisters three,
The Honour of the noble Familie,
Of which I meanest boast my self to be,
And most, that unto them I am so nie.
Phyllis, Charillis, and sweet Amarillis:
Phyllis the Fair, is eldest of the three;
The next to her is bountiful Charillis;
But th' youngest is the highest in Degree.
Phyllis, the Flow'r of rare Perfection,
Fair spreading forth her Leaves with fresh Delight,
That with their Beauty's amorous Reflection,
Bereave of Sense each rash Beholder's sight:
But sweet Charillis is the Paragone
Of peerless Price and Ornament of Praise;
Admir'd of all, yet envied of none,
Through the mild Temperance of her goodly Raies.
Thrice happy do I hold thee noble Swain,
The which art of so rich a Spoil possest,
And it embracing dear without Disdain,
Hast sole Possession in so chaste a Breast!
Of all the Shepherds Daughters which there be
(And yet there be the fairest under Sky,
Or that elsewhere I ever yet did see)
A fairer Nymph yet never saw mine Eye:
She is the Pride and Primrose of the rest,
Made by the Maker self to be admired;
And like a goodly Beacon high addrest,
That is with Sparks of heavenly Beauty fired.
But Amarillis, whether Fortunate,
Or else Unfortunate may I aread,
That freed is from Cupid's Yoke by Fate;
Since which, he doth new Bands adventure dread.
Shepherd, whatever thou hast heard to be
In this or that prais'd diversly apart,
In her thou mayst them all assembled see,
And seal'd up in the Treasure of her Heart.
Ne thee less worthy, gentle Flavia,
For thy chaste Life and Vertue I esteem:
Ne thee less worthy, curteous Candida,
For thy true Love and Loyalty I deem.
Besides yet many mo that Cynthia serve,
Right noble Nymphs, and high to be commended.
But if I all should praise as they deserve,
This Sun would fail me ere I half had ended.
Therefore in closure of a thankful Mind,
I deem it best to hold eternally
Their bounteous Deeds and noble Favours shrin'd,
Than by Discourse them to indignify.
So having said, Aglaura him bespake:
Colin, well worthy were those goodly Favours
Bestow'd on thee, that so of them doost make,
And them requitest with thy thankful Labours.
But of great Cynthia's Goodness and high Grace
Finish the Story which thou hast begun.
More eath, quoth he, it is in such a Case,
How to begin, than know how to have done.
For every Gift, and every goodly Meed,
Which she on me bestow'd, demands a Day:
And every Day, in which she did a Deed,
Demands a Year, it duly to display.
Her Words were like a Stream of Hony fleeting,
The which doth softly trickle from the Hive,
Able to melt the Hearer's Heart unweeting,
And eke to make the Dead again alive.
Her Deeds were like great Clusters of ripe Grapes,
Which load the Bunches of the fruitful Vine;
Offering to fall into each Mouth that gapes,
And fill the same with store of timely Wine.
Her Looks were like Beams of the morning Sun,
Forth-looking through the Window of the East;
When first the fleecie Cattle have begun
Upon the perled Grass to make their Feast.
Her Thoughts are like the Fume of Frankincense,
Which from a golden Censer forth doth rise;
And throwing forth sweet Odours, mounts fro thence
In rolling Globes up to the vaulted Skies.
There she beholds, with high aspiring Thought,
The Cradle of her own Creation;
Emongst the Seats of Angels heavenly wrought,
Much like an Angel in all Form and Fashion.
Colin, said Cuddy then, thou hast forgot
Thy self, me seems, too much, to mount so hie:
Such lofty Flight base Shepherd seemeth not,
From Flocks and Fields, to Angels and to Sky.
True, answer'd he: but her great Excellence
Lifts me above the Measure of my Might;
That being fill'd with furious Insolence,
I feel my self like one yrapt in Spright.
For when I think of her, as oft I ought,
Then want I words to speak it fitly forth;
And when I speak of her what I have thought,
I cannot think according to her Worth.
Yet will I think of her, yet will I speak,
So long as Life my Limbs doth hold together;
And when as Death these vital Bands shall break,
Her Name recorded I will leave for ever.
Her Name in every Tree I will endoss,
That as the Trees do grow, her Name may grow:
And in the Ground each where will it engross,
And fill with Stones, that all Men may it know.
The speaking Woods, and murmuring Waters-fall,
Her Name I'le teach in knowen Terms to frame:
And eke my Lambs, when for their Dams they all.
I'le teach to call for Cynthia by name.
And long while after I am dead and rotten,
Amongst the Shepherds Daughters dauncing round,
My Lays made of her shall not be forgotten,
But sung by them with flowry Girlonds crown'd.
And ye, whoso ye be, that shall survive,
When as ye hear her Memory renew'd,
Be witness of her Bounty here alive,
Which she to Colin her poor Shepherd shew'd.
Much was the whole Assembly of those Heards
Mov'd at his Speech, so feelingly he spake;
And stood awhile astonish'd at his Words,
Till Thestylis at last their Silence brake,
Saying, Why Colin, since thou found'st such Grace
With Cynthia, and all her noble Crew,
Why didst thou ever leave that happy Place,
In which such Wealth might unto thee accrew?
And back returnedst to this barren Soil,
Where Cold, and Care, and Penury do dwell,
Here to keep Sheep with Hunger and with Toil:
Most wretched he, thee is and cannot tell.
Happy indeed, said Colin, I him hold,
That may that blessed Presence still enjoy,
Of Fortune and of Envy uncontroul'd,
Which still are wont most happy States t' annoy:
But I by that which little while I prov'd,
Some part of those Enormities did see,
The which in Court continually hoov'd,
And follow'd those which happy seem'd to be.
Therefore I silly Man, whose former Days
Had in rude Fields been altogether spent,
Durst not adventure such unknowen Ways,
Nor trust the Guile of Fortune's Blandishment;
But rather chose back to my Sheep to tourn,
Whose utmost Hardness I before had try'd,
Than having learn'd Repentance late, to mourn
Emongst those Wretches which I there descry'd.
Shepherd, said Thestylis, it seems of spight
Thou speakest thus 'gainst their Felicity,
Which thou enviest, rather than of right
That ought in them blame-worthy thou doost spy.
Cause have I none, quoth he, of cancred will
To quit them ill, that me demean'd so well:
But Self-regard of private Good or Ill,
Moves me of each, so as I found, to tell,
And eke to warn young Shepherds wandring Wit,
Which through report of that Life's painted Bliss,
Abandon quiet Home, to seek for it,
And leave their Lambs to loss, misled amiss:
For sooth to say, it is no sort of Life,
For Shepherd fit to lead in that same Place,
Where each one seeks with Malice and with Strife,
To thrust down other into foul Disgrace,
Himself to raise: and he doth soonest rise
That best can handle his deceitful Wit,
In subtil Shifts, and finest Sleights devise,
Either by slandring his well-deemed Name,
Through Leasings leud, and feigned Forgery;
Or else by breeding him some blot of Blame,
By creeping close into his Secrecy:
To which him needs, a guileful hollow Heart,
Masked with fair dissembling Curtesy,
A filed Tongue, furnish'd with Terms of Art;
No Art of School but Courtiers Schoolery.
For Arts of School have there small Countenance,
Counted but Toys to busy idle Brains;
And there Professors find small Maintenance,
But to be Instruments of others Gains.
Ne is there place for any gentle Wit,
Unless to please, it self it can apply:
But shouldred is, or out of door quite shit;
As base, or blunt, unmeet for Melody.
For each Man's Worth is measur'd by his Weed,
As Harts by Horns, or Asses by their Ears;
Yet Asses be not all, whose Ears exceed,
Nor yet all Harts, that Horns the highest bears.
For highest Looks have not the highest Mind,
Nor haughty Words most full of highest Thought:
But are like Bladders blowen up with Wind,
That being prick'd do vanish into nought.
Even such is all their vaunted Vanity
Nought else but Smoke, that fumeth soon away:
Such is their Glory that in simple Eye
Seem greatest, when their Garments are most gay.
So they themselves for Praise of Fools do fell,
And all their Wealth for Painting on a Wall;
With Price whereof they buy a golden Bell,
And purchase highest Rooms in Bower and Hall:
Whiles single Truth and simple Honesty
Do wander up and down, despis'd of all;
Their plain Attire such glorious Gallantry
Disdains so much, that none them in doth call.
Ah Colin, then said Hobbinol, the blame
Which thou imputest, is too general;
As if not any gentle Wit of name,
Nor honest Mind might there be found at all.
For well I wot, sith I my self was there,
To wait on Lobbin (Lobbin well thou knewest)
Full many worthy ones then waiting were,
As ever else in Prince's Court thou viewest.
Of which, among you many yet remain,
Whose Names I cannot readily now guess:
Those that poor Suters Papers do retain,
And those that Skill of Medicine profess:
And those that do to Cynthia expound
The Ledden of strange Languages in charge;
For Cynthia doth in Sciences abound,
And gives to their Professors Stipends large.
Therefore unjustly thou doost wite them all,
For that which thou mislikest in a few.
Blame is, quoth he, more blameless general,
Than that which private Errors doth pursue:
For well I wote, that there amongst them be
Full many Persons of right worthy Parts,
Both for Report of spotless Honesty,
And for Profession of all learned Arts,
Whose Praise hereby no whit impaired is,
Though Blame do light on those that faulty be;
For all the rest do most-what fare amiss,
And yet their own misfairing will not see:
For either they be puffed up with Pride,
Or fraught with Envy, that their Galls do swell.
Or they their Days to Idleness divide,
Or drowned lie in Pleasure's wasteful Well;
In which, like Moldwarps, nousling still they lurk,
Unmindful of chief parts of Manliness,
And do themselves for want of other Work,
Vain Votaries of lazy Love profess;
Whose Service high so basely they ensue,
That Cupid's self of them ashamed is,
And mustring all his Men in Venus' view,
Denies them quite for Servitors of his.
And is Love then, said Corilas, once known
In Court, and his sweet Lore professed there?
I weened sure he was our God alone,
And only woon'd in Fields and Forests here.
Not so, quoth he, Love most aboundeth there;
For all the Walls and Windows there are writ
All full of Love, and Love, and Love, my Dear,
And all their Talk and Study is of it.
Ne any there doth brave or valiant seem,
Unless that some gay Mistress' Badg he bears:
Ne any one himself doth ought esteem,
Unless he swim in Love up to the Ears.
But they of Love and of his sacred Lere
(As it should be) all otherwise devise,
Than we poor Shepherds are accustom'd here,
And him do sue and serve all otherwise.
For with leud Speeches and licentious Deeds,
His mighty Mysteries they do profane,
And use his idle Name to other needs,
But as a Complement for courting vain.
So him they do not serve as they profess,
But make him serve to them for sordid Uses.
Ah! my dread Lord, that dost liege Hearts possess,
Avenge thy self on them for their Abuses.
But we poor Shepherds, whether rightly so,
Or through our Rudeness into Error led,
Do make Religion how we rashly go,
To serve that God that is so greatly dread:
For him the greatest of the Gods we deem,
Born without Sire or Couples, of one Kind;
For Venus' self doth solely Couples seem,
Both Male and Female, through commixture join'd.
So, pure and spotless Cupid forth she brought,
And in the Gardens of Adonis nurs'd;
Where growing, he his own Perfection wrought,
And shortly was of all the Gods the first.
Then got he Bow and Shafts of Gold and Lead,
In which so fell and puissant he grew,
That Jove himself his Power began to dread,
And taking up to Heaven, him goaded new.
From thence he shoots his Arrows every where
Into the World, at random, as he will,
On us frail Men, his wretched Vassals here,
Like as himself us pleaseth save or spill.
So we him worship, so we him adore,
With humble Hearts to Heaven up-lifted hie,
That to true Loves he may us evermore
Prefer, and of their Grace us dignify:
Ne is there Shepherd, ne yet Shepherd's Swain,
Whatever feeds in Forest or in Field,
That dare with evil Deed or Leasing vain,
Blaspheme his Power, or Terms unworthy yield.
Shepherd, it seems that some celestial Rage
Of Love, quoth Cuddy, is breath'd into thy Breast,
That poureth forth these Oracles so sage,
Of that high Power wherewith thou art possest.
But never wist I till this present day,
Albe of Love I always humbly deem'd,
That he was such an one as thou doost say,
And so religiously to be esteem'd.
Well may it seem by this thy deep Insight,
That of that God the Priest thou shouldest be:
So well thou wot'st the Mystery of his Might,
As if his Godhead thou didst present see.
Of Love's Perfection perfectly to speak,
Or of his Nature rightly to define,
Indeed, saith Colin, passeth Reason's reach,
And needs his Priest t' express his Power Divine.
For long before the World he was ybore,
And bred above, in Venus' Bosom dear:
For by his Power the World was made of yore,
And all that therein wondrous doth appear.
For how should else things so far from attone,
And so great Enemies as of them be,
Be ever drawn together into one,
And taught in such Accordance to agree?
Through him the Cold began to covet Heat;
And Water Fire; the Light to mount on hie,
And th' Heavy down to poize; the Hungry t' eat,
And Voidness to seek full Satiety.
So being former Foes, they wexed Friends,
And 'gan by little learn to love each other:
So being knit, they brought forth other Kinds
Out of the fruitful Womb of their great Mother.
Then first 'gan Heaven out of Darkness dread
For to appear, and brought forth cheerful Day:
Next 'gan the Earth to shew her naked Head
Out of deep Waters, which her drown'd alway.
And shortly after, every living Wight
Crept forth, like Worms, out of their slimy Nature,
Soon as on them the Sun's life-giving Light
Had poured kindly Heat and formal Feature.
Thenceforth they 'gan each one his like to love,
And like himself desire for to beget;
The Lion chose his Mate, the Turtle-Dove
Her Dear, the Dolphin his own Dolphinet:
But Man, that had the Spark of Reason's Might,
More than the rest, to rule his Passion,
Chose for his Love the fairest in his Sight;
Like as himself, was fairest by Creation.
For Beauty is the Bait which with Delight
Doth Man allure, for to enlarge his Kind;
Beauty the burning Lamp of Heaven's Light,
Darting her Beams into each feeble Mind;
Against whose Power, nor God nor Man can find
Defence, ne ward the Danger of the Wound:
But being hurt, seek to be medicin'd
Of her that first did stir that mortal Stownd.
Then do they cry and call to Love apace,
With Prayers loud importuning the Sky,
Whence he them hears; and when he list shew Grace,
Does grant them Grace, that otherwise would die.
So Love is Lord of all the World by Right,
And rules the Creatures by his powerful Saw:
All being made the Vassals of his Might,
Through secret Sense which thereto doth them draw.
Thus ought all Lovers of their Lord to deem,
And with chaste Heart to honour him alway:
But whoso else doth otherwise esteem,
Are Out-laws, and his Lore do disobey.
For their Desire is base, and doth not merit
The name of Love, but of disloyal Lust:
Ne 'mongst true Lovers they shall place inherit,
But as Exuls out of his Court be thrust.
So having said, Melissa spake at will,
Colin, thou now full deeply hast divin'd
Of Love and Beauty, and with wondrous Skill
Hast Cupid's self depainted in his kind.
To thee are all true Lovers greatly bound,
That doost their Cause so mightily defend;
But most, all Women are thy Debtors found,
That doost their Bounty still so much commend.
That ill, said Hobbinol, they him requite:
For having loved ever one most dear,
He is repaid with Scorn and foul Despite,
That yrks each gentle Heart which it doth hear.
Indeed, said Lucid, I have often heard
Fair Rosalinde of divers fouly blamed;
For being to that Swain too cruel hard,
That her bright Glory else hath much defamed.
But who can tell what Cause had that fair Maid
To use him so, that loved her so well?
Or who with Blame can justly her upbraid,
For loving not? For who can Love compel?
And sooth to say, it is fool-hardy thing
Rashly to witen Creatures so Divine;
For Demi-gods they be, and first did spring
From Heaven, though Graft in Frailness feminine.
And well I wote, that oft I heard it spoken,
How one that fairest Helene did revile,
Through Judgment of the Gods, to been ywroken,
Lost both his Eyes, and so remain'd long while,
Till he recanted had his wicked Rimes,
And made amends to her with treble Praise:
Beware therefore, ye Grooms, I read betimes,
How rashly Blame of Rosalinde ye raise.
Ah Shepherds, then said Colin, ye ne weet
How great a Guilt upon your Heads ye draw;
To make so bold a Doom with words unmeet,
Of thing Celestial, which ye never saw.
For she is not like as the other Crew
Of Shepherds Daughters, which emongst you be,
But of divine Regard and heavenly Hue,
Excelling all that ever ye did see.
Not then to her that scorned thing so base,
But to my self the blame that looks so hie:
So high her Thoughts as she her self have place,
And loath each lowly thing with lofty Eye.
Yet so much Grace let her vouchsafe to grant
To simple Swain, sith her I may not love;
Yet that I may her Honour paravant,
And praise her Worth, though far my Wit above.
Such Grace shall be some Guerdon for the Grief
And long Affliction which I have endured;
Such Grace sometimes, shall give me some Relief
And Ease of Pain, which cannot be recured:
And ye my fellow-Shepherds, which do see
And hear the Languors of my too long dying,
Unto the World for ever witness be,
That hers I die; nought to the World denying
This simple Trophy of her great Conquest.
So, having ended, he from Ground did rise,
And after him uprose eke all the rest:
All loth to part, but that the glooming Skies
Warn'd them to draw their bleating Flocks to rest.
[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:1121-45]