William Browne, who dedicates the poem "To his ingenious friend Mr. Christopher Brooke," takes the subject of poetic ambition, and possibly the name "Cuttie" for "Cuddie," from Spenser's October eclogue.
Edward Payson Morton: "It is rather remarkable that neither of the Fletchers, nor Browne, who were Spenser's chief followers in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, used Spenser's stanza, and that Browne, though an ardent and as obvious a Spenserian as any, did not even imitate his versification. His only approach to Spenser's stanza is a section in the fifth eclogue of the Shepherd's Pipe (ll. 47-136), where nine stanzas, in pentameters throughout, rhyme ababbcbcdd" "The Spenserian Stanza before 1700" (1907) 6-7.
Herbert E. Cory: "The fourth eclogue contains a pastoral elegy. The fifth eclogue follows Spenser's October in its complaint against the times and in its lofts' faith in the nobility of poetry, the favorite credo of Drayton, Basse. Wither, and all the members of this group. Cuttie (Christopher Brooke) is urged to turn from lowly pastoral to the deep notes of the epic. Poor Brooke, who never wrote even a tolerable pastoral, is made to reply with dramatic appropriateness enough: — 'It shall content me on these happy downs | To sing the strife for garland, not for crowns.' He complains, like Cuddie in October, of the languid interest in poetry. Willy retorts with a fine scorn that doubtless owes some of its inspiration to the eloquence of Piers in October, but which associates itself particularly with the utterances of Drayton's group, because they reiterated their proud devotion to poetry so frequently and with such invincible enthusiasm" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 258.
Joan Grundy: "The respect that Browne shows to Brooke in his fifth eclogue is due naturally to Brooke's seniority in years and position, and to the kind of poet he tried to be, though not, in our estimation, to the poet he actually was" The Spenserian Poets (1969) 82.
WILLY incites his friend to write
Things of a higher fame
Then silly Shephards use endite
Vaild in a Shepheards name.
Morne had got the start of night,
Lab'ring men were ready dight
With their shovels and their spades
For the field, and (as their trades)
Or at hedging wrought or ditching
For their food more then enriching.
When the shepheards from the fold
All their bleating charges told,
And (full carefull) search'd if one
Of all their flocke were hurt or gone,
Or (if in the night-time cul'd)
Any had their fleeces pul'd;
'Mongst the rest (not least in care)
CUTTY to his fold 'gan fare,
And young WILLY (that had given
To his flocke the latest even
Neighbourhood with CUTTY'S sheep)
Shaking off refreshing sleepe,
Hy'd him to his charge that blet;
Where he (busied) CUTTY met.
Both their sheep told, and none miss'd
Of their number; then they bliss'd
PAN and all the gods of plaines
For respecting of their traines
Of silly sheepe, and in a song
Praise gave to that holy throng.
Thus they drave their flockes to graze,
Whose white fleeces did amaze
All the Lillies, as they pass
Where their usuall feeding was.
Lillies angry that a creature
Of no more eye-pleasing feature
Then a sheepe, by natures duty
Should be crown'd with far more beauty
Then a Lilly, and the powre
Of white in sheepe, outgoe a flowre:
From the middle of their sprout
(Like a Furies sting) thrust out
Dart-like forks in death to steep them;
But great PAN did safely keepe them,
And afforded kinde repaire
To their dry and wonted laire,
Where their maisters (that did eye them)
Underneath a Haw-thorne by them,
On their pipes thus gan to play,
And with rimes weare out the day.
Cease, CUTTY, cease, to feed these simple Flockes,
And for a Trumpet change thine Oaten-reeds;
Ore-looke the vallies as aspiring rockes,
And rather march in steele, then shepheards weeds.
Beleeve me, CUTTY! for heroicke deeds
Thy verse is fit, not for the lives of Swaines,
(Though both thou canst do well) and none proceeds
To leave high pitches for the lowly plaines:
Take thou a Harpe in hand, strive with APOLLO;
Thy Muse was made to lead, then scorne to follow.
WILLY: to follow sheepe I ne're shall scorne;
Much lesse to follow any Deity;
Who 'gainst the Sun (though weakned by the morne)
Would vie with lookes, needeth an Eagles eye,
I dare not search the hidden mistery
Of tragicke Scenes; nor in a buskin'd stile
Through death and horror march, nor their height fly
Whose pens were fed with blood of this faire Ile.
It shall content me, on these happy downes
To sing the strife for garlands, not for crownes.
O who would not aspire, and by his wing
Keep stroke with Fame, and of an earthly jarre
Another lesson teach the Spheres to sing?
Who would a shepheard that might be a star?
See, learned Cutty, on yond mountaines are
Cleere springs, arising, and the climbing goat
That can get up, hath water cleerer farre
Than when the streames do in the vallies float.
What mad-man would a race by torch-light run
That might his steps have usher'd by the Sunne?
We Shepheards tune our layes of Shepheards loves,
Or in the praise of shady groves, or springs;
We seldom hear of CITHEREA'S Doves,
Except when some more learned Shepheard sings;
And equall meed have to our sonnetings:
A Belt, a sheep-hooke, or a wreath of flowres,
Is all we seeke, and all our versing brings,
And more deserts then these are seldome ours.
But thou whose muse a falcons pitch can sore,
Must share the bayes even with a Conqueror.
Why doth not WILLY then produce such lines
Of men and armes as might accord with these?
'Cause Cutties spirit not in Willy shines,
Pan cannot weild the Club of Hercules,
Nor dare a Merlin on a heron seise.
Scarce know I how to fit a shepheards eare;
Farre more unable shall I be to please
In ought, which none but semi-gods must heare;
When by thy verse (more able) time shall see,
Thou canst give more to kings then kings to thee.
But (wel-a-day) who loves the muses now?
Or helpes the climber of the sacred hill?
None leane to them: but strive to disalow
All heavenly dewes the goddesses distill.
Let earthly mindes base mucke for ever fill,
Whose musicke onely is the chime of gold,
Deafe be their eares to each harmonious quil!
As they of learning thinke, so of them hold.
And if ther's none deserves what thou canst doe,
Be then the Poet and the Patron too.
I tell thee Cuttie, had I all the sheepe,
With thrice as many moe, as on these plaines
Or shepheard or faire maiden sits to keepe,
I would them all forgoe, so I thy straines
Could equalize: O how our neatest swaines
Do trim themselves, when on a holy-day
They hast to heare thee sing, knowing the traines
Of fairest Nymphs wil come to learn thy lay.
Well may they run and wish a parting never,
So thy sweet tongue might charme their eares for ever.
These attributes (my lad) are not for me,
Bestow them where true merit hath assign'd;
And do I not? bestowing them on thee:
Believe me, Cuttie, I doe bear this minde,
That whereso'ere we true deserving finde,
To give a silent praise is to detract;
Obscure thy verses (more then most refin'd)
From any one, of dulness to compact.
And rather sing to trees then to such men,
Who know not how to crowne a Poets pen.
WILLY, by thy incitement I'le assay
To raise my subject higher than tofore,
And sing it to our Swaines next holy-day,
Which (as approv'd) shall fill them with the store
Of such rare accents; if dislik'd, no more
Will I a higher straine then shepheards use,
But sing of Woods and Rivers as before.
Thou wilt be ever happy in thy Muse.
But see, the radiant Sun is gotten high;
Let's seeke for shadow in the grove here by.