1600
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Theorello. A Sheepheards Edillion.

Englands Helicon. [Nicholas Ling, ed.]

Edmund Bolton


Unsigned pastoral verses by Edmund Bolton. Bolton objects to the use of archaisms in his highly-regarded essay Hypercritica, first published in 1722.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "Edmund Bolton was better known as a scholar than as a poet. He was a Catholic and supposed to have been a retainer to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Warton, who calls him 'that sensible old English critic,' has collected all the scattered notices which could be found of him in the History of English Poetry III. 278, (note). In 1610 he published The Elements of Armories, small 4to. which has given him a place in Dallaway's Catalogue of Heraldic Writers. His Hypercritica, written about 1610, was first published by Anthony Hall, at the end of Triveti Annales, Oxford, 1722, 8vo. It is a judicious little tract, occasioned by a passage in Sir Henry Saville's Epistle prefixed to his edition of our old Latin Historians, 1596. Under the head of 'Prime Gardens for gathering English according to the true gauge or standard of the tongue, about fifteen or sixteen years ago' he has given characters of many of the cotemporary authors" British Bibliographer 3 (1812) xvi.

Dorothy E. Mason: "The picture of shepherds sitting on hillocks is a familiar one. However, there is a possible implication in the second quoted line ['like princes on their thrones'] which brings to mind Spenser's description of the prelates who aspire to princely place, neglecting their pastoral duties. Cf. S.C. May, July, Sept." Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 76.

Edmund Gosse: "Why did the vision of the idle and amorous shepherd thus fascinate the Elizabethan fancy? The illustrated edition of Spenser's Shepheard's Calendar merely increases our perplexity. Here, in landscape that is exclusively English, we find characters of two classes, aged tenders of the flock quite miserably tattered and torn, and elegant youths in sombreros and tight hose, who swagger about swinging hooks eight feet long, and pressing laurel wreaths on one another's foreheads. Meanwhile men who are not shepherds, but just contemporary peasants, are making hay, walking in procession to church, reaping corn, or mending bagpipes. So that here is at once expressed that inconsistent Elizabethan attitude regarding pastoral which animates all the writers of the time and finds in England's Helicon its choicest selection. The poets go back to Sicily, and yet remain in Sussex, paying a long visit to Italy on the road. They mingle a fantastic idealism which goes vaguely back to Theocritus through Sannazaro, with an attempt at rustic realism which is grotesque. The result is a strange inconsistency, a mixing of scenery and images, a delicate truth of description beside what is merely queer and forced.... A note of breathless incoherence, or of lyrical intoxication, is mingled with all this queer celebration of the shepherd and his maid. This is more illogically expressed in the lesser than in the greater poets, who naturally, even during a sudden rise of temperature, retain the habit of self-control. But the 'minors,' in their agitation and ecstasy, are always on the point of losing their heads. An instance may be found in the 'edillions' of Edmund Bolton, a writer about whom very little appears to be known, and a very characteristic one. It is far from easy to know what Bolton is talking about, but never doubtful that he is in a genuine high pastoral frenzy" "England's Helicon" in Leaves and Fruit (1927) 46-47.



You Sheepheards which on hillocks sit,
Like Princes on their throanes:
And guide your flocks, which else would flit,
Your flocks of little ones:
Good Kings have not disdained it,
But Sheepheards have beene named:
A sheepe-hooke is a Scepter fit,
For people well reclaimed.
The Sheepheards life so honour'd is and praised.
That Kings lesse happy seeme, though higher raised.

The Sommer Sunne hath guilded faire,
With morning rayes the mountaines:
The birds doo caroll in the ayre,
And naked Nymphs in Fountaines.
The Silvanes in their shagged haire,
With Hamadriades trace:
The shadie Satires make a Quiere,
Which rocks with Ecchoes grace.
All breathe delight, all solace in the season:
Not now to sing, were enemie to reason.

Cosma my love, and more then so,
The life of my affections:
Nor life alone but Lady too,
And Queene of their directions.
Cosma, my Love, is faire you know,
And which you Sheepheards know not:
Is (Sophi said) thence called so,
But names her beautie showe not.
Yet hath the world no better name then she:
And then the world, no fairer thing can be.

The Sunne upon her fore-head stands,
Or (jewell Sunne-like glorious,)
Her fore-head wrought with Joves owne hands,
For heavenly white notorious.
Her golden lockes like Hermas sands,
(Or then bright Hermus brighter:)
A spangled Cavill binds in with bands,
Then silver morning lighter.
And if the Planets are the chiefe in skies:
No other starres then Planets are her eyes.

Her cheeke, her lip, fresh cheeke, more fresh,
Then selfe-blowne buds of Roses:
Rare lip, more red than those of flesh,
Which thousand sweetes encloses:
Sweet breath, which all things dooth refresh,
And words then breath farre sweeter:
Cheeke firme, lip firme, not fraile nor nesh,
As substance which is fleeter,
In praise doo not surmount; although in placing,
Her christall necke, round breast, and armes embracing.

The thorough-shining ayre I weene,
Is not so perfect cleare:
As is the skie of her faire skinne,
Wheron no spots appeare.
The parts which ought not to be seene,
For soveraigne woorth excell:
Her thighs with Azure branched beene,
And all in her are well.
Long Ivorie hands, legges straiter then the Pine:
Well shapen feete, but vertue most divine.

Nor cloathed like a Sheepheardesse,
But rather like a Queene:
Her mantle dooth the formes expresse,
Of all which may be seene.
Roabe fitter for an Empresse,
Then for a Sheepheards love:
Roabe fit alone for such a Lasse,
As Emperours doth move.
Roabe which heavens Queene, the bride of her owne brother,
Would grace herselfe with, or with such another.

Who ever (and who else but Jove)
Embroidered the same:
Hee knew the world, and what did move,
In all the mightie frame.
So well (belike his skill to prove)
The counterfeits he wrought:
Of wood-Gods, and of every groave,
And all which else was ought.
Is there a beast, a bird, a fish worth noate?
Then that he drew, and picturde in her coate.

A vaile of Lawne like vapour thin
Unto her anckle trailes:
Through which the shapes discerned bin,
As too and fro it sailes.
Shapes both of men, who never lin
To search her wonders out:
Of monsters and of Gods a kin,
Which her empale about.
A little world her flowing garment seemes:
And who but as a wonder thereof deemes?

For here and there appeare forth towers,
Among the chalkie downes:
Citties among the Country bowers,
Which smiling Sun-shine crownes.
Her metall buskins deckt with flowers,
As th' earth when frosts are gone:
Besprinkled are with Orient showers
Of hayle and pebble stone.
Her feature peerelesse, peerlesse her attire,
I can but love her love, with zeale entire.

O who can sing her beauties best,
Or that remaines unsung?
Doe thou Apollo tune the rest,
Unworthy is my tongue.
To gaze on her is to be blest,
So wondrous fayre her face is;
Her fairenes cannot be exprest,
In Goddesses nor Graces.
I love my love, the goodly worke of Nature:
Admire her face, but more admire her stature.

On thee (O Cosma) will I gaze,
And reade thy beauties ever:
Delighting in the blessed maze,
Which can be ended never.
For in the luster of thy rayes,
Appeares thy parents brightnes:
Who himselfe infinite displaies
In thee his proper greatnes.
My song must end, but never my desire:
For Cosmas face is Theorellos fire.

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