Three Poems by Spenser.

Englands Helicon. [Nicholas Ling, ed.]

Edmund Spenser

The three poems are "Hobbinolls Dittie in Prayse of Eliza Queene of the Sheepheards" sigs. Cv-C3v. [from Shepheardes Calender, "April"]; "Colin Cloutes Mournfull Dittie for the Death of Astrophell," [from "Astrophel"], sigs. G-Gv. "Perigot and Cuddies Roundelay" sigs. D2-D3; [from SC "August"].

British Bibliographer: "Little can be said for the three pieces in this volume subscribed with the name of Spenser" 3 (1812) xi.

Thomas Corser: "It contains contributions from nearly all the principal poets of that period, which was so fertile in poetical writers, the leading tone of its compositions partaking of the pastoral character. 'The principal feature of Englands Helicon,' says Dr. Drake, 'is its pastoral beauty, and in this department how few have surpassed or even equalled the exquisite strains of Lodge or Marlow!' Indeed, as it has been remarked, it will be sufficient to establish the value of England's Helicon if it be only for having preserved Marlow's beautiful song of 'The Passionate Shepherd to his Love,' and Raleigh's not less beautiful reply to it. 'It cannot be idle or useless,' says Sir Egerton Brydges in his introduction, 'to study this early collection of pastoral compositions. Here is the fountain of that diction, which has since been employed and expanded in the description of rural scenery. Here are the openings of those reflections on the imagery of nature, in which subsequent poets have so much dealt. They shew us to what occasional excellence, both in turn of thought, and polish of language, the literature of Queen Elizabeth had arrived; and how little the artificial and incumbered prose of mere scholars of that time exhibits a just specimen of either the sentiment or phrase of the court or people! In the best of these productions, even the accentuation and rhythm scarce differs from that of our days. Lodge and Breton in particular, who are characterized by their simplicity, are striking proofs of this!'" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica II (1861) 305-06.


Sheepheards that wont on pipes of Oaten reede,
Oft-times to plaine your loves concealed smart;
And with your pitteous Layes have learn'd to breede
Compassion in a Country-Lasses hart:
Hearken ye gentle Sheepheards to my song,
And place my dolefull plaint your plaints among.

To you alone I sing this mournfull verse,
The mournfull verse that everman heard tell:
To you whose softned harts it may emperse
With dolours dart for death of Astrophell.
To you I sing, and to none other wight:
For well I wot, my rimes been rudely dight.

Yet as they been, if any nicer wit
Shall hap to heare, or covet them to reade:
Thinke he, that such are for such ones most fit,
Made not to please the living, but the dead.
And if in him found pitty ever place;
Let him be moov'd to pitty such a case.
Edm. Spencer.

[Sig. G-Gv]