1619
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastorals VI: The Sixt Eclogue.

Pastorals. Contayning Eglogues. [In] Poems: By Michael Drayton Esquire.

Michael Drayton


The sixth eclogue is revised and darkened from the fourth eclogue of Shepherd's Garland, which lamented the death of Sir Philip Sidney: "Still let your Pipes be busied in his prayse, | Untill your Flocks be learnt his losse to know, | And tattling Eccho many sundrie wayes, | Be taught by you to warble forth our wo."

Thomas Corser: "The sixth Eglog, which bewails the loss of Sir Philip Sidney, under the name of Elphin and was probably written soon after his death in 1586, is particularly interesting, not only for the beautiful lament by Drayton on the mournful occasion of his death, which we may here remark is totally different from the one in the older edition, and was entirely rewritten for the present.... Under these names of Gorbo, Wynkin de Worde, Perkin, and some others, by which the dialogues are carried on in these Pastorals, there is little doubt that some poetical friends were intended by Drayton, but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, now to identify their real names. So also we know that by Rowland, Drayton meant himself; that Colin was Spenser; Musaeus, Daniel; Amyntas, Thomas Watson; Goldey, Lodge; Wagrin, probably Warner; Alcon and Astrophel, called also Phoebus and Elphin, Sir Philip Sidney" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 6 (1877) 279-80.

Oliver Elton: "Much altered, the whole lament of Elphin (Sidney) being different. Winkin, in [1593], bids Gorbo tune his pipe, and he, Winken, will sing a lay made on Elphin by Rowland (Drayton). The lay however is sung by Gorbo, beginning 'Melpomine, put on.' This is our No. 1 in the Bibliography, as it may date early. In [1606] there is no song; but the superb quatrains ... are substituted, wherein dark allusions are made to those who denied Sidney's poesy and rashly censured his worth and honour. I do not know who can be meant. The end also differs, being full of allusions to Rowland gadding away from Winken to the South, and to other shepherds" Introduction to Michael Drayton (1895) 54-55.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "The main body of this eclogue was new in 1606, only the setting being preserved from SG. Wynken's 'keening' and the Spenserian dirge for Elphin have disappeared. The new material is a good example of Drayton's mature pastoral style unhampered by an earlier groundwork; it also expresses a much sharper sense of loss in Sidney's death, and a perception of the contrast between his lifetime, as a golden age for poets, and the present bad times. It is a passage of considerable documentary value for the middle period of D's career" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:185.

Joan Grundy: "When he re-shaped his eclogues, in 1606 and later, calling them now simply 'Eglogs' or Pastorals, he poured into them much of the bitterness he felt at the changed literary and social climate of the new reign. The idea of the shepherd now became virtually synonymous for him with the old Elizabethan type of poet. A good example is eclogue VI, which is a much revised version of the fourth eclogue of The Shepheards Garland.... This lament is altered in the later version so as to make Sidney's death signify also the death of the old order" The Spenserian Poets (1969) 78.



GORBO.
Well met, good WINKEN, whither dost thou wend?
How hast thou far'd, old Shepheard, many a yeere?
His dayes in darknesse, thus can WINKEN spend,
Who I have knowne for piping had no Peere?

Where be those faire Flocks thou wert wont to guide?
What, be they dead, or hapt on some mischance?
Or mischiefe thee their Master doth betyde?
Or Lordly Love hath cast thee in a trance?

What Man, let's still be merry while we may,
And take a Truce with Sorrow for a time,
The whil'st we passe this weary Winters day,
In reading Riddles, or in making Rime.

WINKEN.
A wo's me, GORBO, mirth is farre away,
Nor may it sojourne with sad discontent,
O! blame me not (to see this dismall Day)
Then, though my poore Heart it in pieces rent.

My tune is turn'd into a Swanlike song,
That best becomes me drawing to my death,
Till which, me thinks, that every houre is long,
My brest become a Prison to my Breath.

Nothing more lothsome then the cheerefull Light,
Com'n is my Night, when once appeares the Day:
The blessed Sunne is odious to my sight,
Nor sound me liketh, but the Shreech-Owles Lay.

GORBO.
What, mayst thou be that old WINKEN DE WORD,
That of all Shepheards wert the Man alone,
Which once with laughter shook'st the Shepheards Boord,
With thine owne madnesse lastly overthrowne?

I thinke, thou dot'st in thy declining Age,
Or for the loosenesse of thy Youth art sorry,
And therefore vow'st some solemne Pilgrimage,
To holy PATRICKS Purgatorie.

Come, sit we downe under this Hawthorne Tree,
The Morrowes Light shall lend us Day enough,
And let us tell of GAWEN, or Sir GUY.
Of ROBIN-HOOD, or of old CLEM aCLOUGH.

Or else some Romant unto us areede,
By former Shepheards taught thee in thy youth,
Of noble Lords and Ladies gentle deede,
Or of thy Love, or of thy Lasses truth.

WINKEN.
Shepheard, no, no, that World with me is past,
Merry was it, when we those Toyes might tell:
But 'tis not now as when thou saw'st me last,
A great mischance me since that time befell.

ELPHIN is dead, and in his Grave is laid,
O! to report it, how my Heart it grieveth!
Cruell, that Fate, that so the Time betraid,
And of our Joyes untimely us depriveth.

GORBO.
Is it for him thy tender Heart doth bleed?
For him that living was the Shepheards pride:
Never did Death so mercilesse a deed,
Ill hath he done, and ill may him betyde:

Nought hath he got, nor of much more can boast,
Nature is paid the utmost of her due,
Pan hath receiv'd so dearly that him cost.
O Heavens, his Vertues did belong to you.

Doe not thou then uncessantly complaine,
Best doth the meane befit the Wise in mourning:
And to recall that, labour not in vaine,
Which is by Fate prohibited returning.

WINKEN.
Wer't for the best this present World affords,
Shepheard, our sorrowes might be easly cast,
But, oh, his losse requireth more then Words,
Nor it so slightly can be over-past.

When his fayre Flocks he fed upon the Downes,
The poorest Shepheard suffered not annoy:
Now are we subject to those beastly Clownes,
That all our mirth would utterly destroy.

Long after he was shrowded in the Earth,
The Birds for sorrow did forbeare to sing,
Shepheards forwent their wonted Summers mirth,
Winter therewith outwore a double Spring.

That, had not Nature lastly call'd to mind,
The neere approching of her owne decay,
Things should have gone contrary unto kind,
And to the Chaos all was like to sway.

The Nymphs forbare in silver Springs to looke,
With sundry Flowers to brayd their yellow Haire,
And to the Desarts sadly them betooke,
So much opprest, and over-come with care.

And for his sake the early wanton Lambs,
That 'mongst the Hillocks wont to skip and play,
Sadly ran bleating from their carefull Dams,
Nor would their soft Lips to the Udders lay.

The Groves, the Mountaynes, and the pleasant Heath,
That wonted were with Roundelayes to ring,
Are blasted now with the cold Northerne breath,
That not a Shepheard takes delight to sing.

Who would not die when ELPHIN now is gone?
Living, that was the Shepheards true delight.
With whose blest Spirit (attending him alone)
Vertue to Heaven directly tooke her flight.

Onely from Fooles he from the World did flie,
Knowing the Time strange Monsters forth should bring,
That should his lasting Poesie denie,
His Worth and Honour rashly censuring:

Whil'st he aloft with glorious Wings is borne,
Singing with Angels in the gorgeous Skie,
Laughing even Kings and their delights to scorne,
And all those Sots that them doe Deifie.

And learned Shepheard, thou to time shalt live,
When their false Names are utterly forgotten,
And Fame to thee Eternitie shall give,
When with their Bones their Sepulchers are rotten.

Nor mournefull Cypres, nor sad Widdowing Yeaw,
About thy Tombe to prosper shall be seene,
But Bay and Mirtle which be ever new,
In spight of Winter flourishing and greene.

Summers long'st Day shall Shepheards not suffice,
To sit and tell full Stories of thy prayse,
Nor shall the longest Winters Night comprize
Their sighes for him, the subject of their Layes.

And, gentle Shepheards (as sure some there bee)
That living yet, his Vertues doe inherit,
Men from base envy and detraction free,
Of upright Hearts, and of as humble Spirit:

Thou, that downe from the goodly Westerne waste,
To drinke at Avon driv'st thy Sunned Sheepe,
Good MELIBEUS, that so wisely hast
Guided the Flocks delivered thee to keepe.

Forget not ELPHIN, and thou gentle Swayne,
That dost thy Pipe by silver Doven sound,
ALEXIS that dost with thy Flocks remayne,
Farre off within the Calydonian Ground,

Be mindfull of that Shepheard that is dead,
And thou too long that I to Pipe have taught,
Unhappy ROWLAND that from me art fled:
And sett'st old WINKEN and his words at nought:

And like a gracelesse and untutor'd Lad,
Art now departed from my aged sight,
And needsly to the Southerne Fields wilt gad,
Where thou dost live in thriftlesse vaine delight.

Thou wanton Boy, as thou canst pipe aswell,
As any he, a Bag-pipe that doth beare,
Still let thy Rounds of that good Shepheard tell,
To whom thou hast beene evermore so deare.

Many, you seeming, to excell in Fame,
And say as they, that none can pipe so hie,
Scorning well-neere a Shepheards simple Name,
So puff'd and blowne with Worldly vanitie:

These, if an aged Man may Umpire bee,
Whose Pipes are well-neere worne out of his Hand,
The highest skill, that in their Songs I see,
Scarce reach the Base whereon his prayses stand.

And all those Toyes that vainely you allure,
Shall in the end no other guerdon have,
But living shall you mickle wo procure,
And lastly bring you to an unknowne Grave.

Then, gentle Shepheards, wheresoere you rest,
In Hill or Dale, however that you bee,
Whether with Love or Worldly care opprest,
Or be you Bond, or happily bee Free:

The closing Evening 'ginning to be darke,
When as the small Birds sing the Sunne to sleepe,
You fold your Lambs; or, with the earely Larke,
Into the faire Fields drive your harmelesse Sheepe:

Still let your Pipes be busied in his prayse,
Untill your Flocks be learnt his losse to know,
And tattling Eccho many sundrie wayes,
Be taught by you to warble forth our wo.

GORBO.
Cease, Shepheard, cease, from further plaints refrayne,
See but of one, how many doe arise,
That by the Tempest of my troubled Brayne,
The Floud's alreadie swelling up mine Eyes.

And now the Sunne beginneth to decline:
Whil'st we in woes the time away doe weare
See where yon little moping Lambe of mine,
It selfe hath tangled in a crawling Breere.

[pp. 453-57]