The Shepheardes Calender: April

Note on this Renascence Editions text:

 This edition is copyright © The University of Oregon; it is distributed for scholarly and nonprofit purposes only. Risa S. Bear

[Woodcut for April]

 Ægloga Quarta.

 A R G V M E N T.

THis Æglogue is purposely intended to the honor and prayse of our most gracious souereigne, Queene Elizabeth. The speakers herein be Hobbinoll and Thenott, two shepheardes: The which Hobinoll being before mentioned, greatly to haue loued Colin, is here set forth more largely, complayning him of that boyes great misaduenture in Loue, whereby his mynd was alienate and with drawen not onely from him, who moste loued him, but also from all former delightes and studies, aswell in pleasaunt pyping, as conning ryming and singing, and other his laudable exercises. Whereby he taketh occasion, for proofe of his more excellencie and skill in poetrie, to recorde a song, which the sayd Colin sometime made in honor of her Maiestie, whom abruptely he termeth Elysa.
Thenot.       Hobbinoll.
TEll me good Hobbinoll, what garres thee greete?
What? hath some Wolfe thy tender Lambes ytorne?
Or is thy Bagpype broke, that soundes so sweete?
Or art thou of thy loued lasse forlorne?

 Or bene thine eyes attempred to the yeare,
Quenching the gasping furrowes thirst with rayne?
Like April shoure, so stremes the trickling teares
Adowne thy cheeke, to quenche thye thirstye payne.

Nor thys, not that, so muche doeth make me mourne,
But for the ladde, whom long I lovd so deare,
Nowe loues a lasse, that all his loue doth scorne:
He plonged in payne, his tressed locks dooth teare.

 Shepheards delights he dooth them all forsweare,
Hys pleasaunt Pipe, whych made vs meriment,
He wylfully hath broke, and doth forbeare
His wonted songs, wherein he all outwent.

What is he for a Ladde, you so lament?
Ys loue such pinching payne to them, that proue?
And hath he skill to make so excellent,
Yet hath so little skill to brydle loue?
Colin thou kenst, the Southerne shepheardes boye:
Him Loue hath wounded with a deadly darte.
Whilome on him was all my care and ioye,
Forcing with gyfts to winne his wanton heart.

 But now from me hys madding mynd is starte,
And woes the Widdowes daughter of the glenne:
So now fayre Rosalind hath bred hys smart,
So now his frend is chaunged for a frenne.

But if his ditties bene so trimly dight,
I pray thee Hobbinoll, record some one:
The whiles our flockes doe graze about in sight,
And we close shrowded in thys shade alone.
Contented I: then will I singe his laye
Of fayre Elisa, Queene of shepheardes all:
Which once he made, as by a spring he laye,
And tuned it vnto the Waters fall.

YE dayntye Nymphs, that in this blessed Brooke
doe bathe your brest,
Forsake your watry bowres, and hether looke,
at my request:
And eke you Virgins, that on Parnasse dwell,
Whence floweth Helicon the learned well,
Helpe me to blaze
Her worthy praise,
Which in her sexe doth all excell.

 Of fayre Elisa be your siluer song,
that blessed wight:
The flowre of Virgins, may shee florish long,
In princely plight.
For she is Syrinx daughter without spotte,
Which Pan the shepheards God of her begot:
So sprong her grace
Of heauenly race,
No mortal blemishe may her blotte.

 See, where she sits vpon the grassie greene,
(O seemly sight)
Yclad in Scarlot like a mayden Queene,
And Ermines white.
Vpon her head a Cremosin coronet,
With Damaske roses and Dafadillies set:
Bayleaues betweene,
And Primroses greene
Embellish the sweete Violet.

 Tell me, haue ye seene her angelick face,
Like Phoebe fayre?
Her heauenly haueour, her princely grace
can you well compare?
The Redde rose medled with the White yfere,
In either cheeke depeincten liuely chere.
Her modest eye,
Her Maiestie,
Where haue you seene the like, but there?

 I sawe Phoebus thrust out his golden hedde,
vpon her to gaze:
But when he sawe, how broade her beames did spredde,
it did him amaze.
He blusht to see another Sunne belowe,
Ne durst againe his fyrye face out showe:
Let him, if he dare,
His brightnesse compare
With hers, to haue the ouerthrowe.

 Shewe thy selfe Cynthia with thy siuer rayes,
and be not abasht:
When shee the beames of her beauty displayes,
O how art thou dasht?
But I will not match her with Latonaes seede,
Such follie great sorow to Niobe did breede.
Now she is a stone,
And makes dayly mone,
Warning all others to take heede.

 Pan may be proud, that euer he begot
such a Bellibone,
And Syrinx reioyse, that euer was her lot
to beare such an one.
Soone as my younglings cryen for the dam,
To her will I offer a milkwhite Lamb:
Shee is my goddesse plaine,
And I her shepherds swayne,
Albee forswonck and forswatt I am.

 I see Calliope speede her to the place,
Where my Goddesse shines:
And after her the other Muses trace,
with their Violines.
Bene they not Bay braunches, which they doe beare,
All for Elisa, in her hand to weare?
So sweetely they play,
And sing all the way,
That it a heauen is to heare.

 Lo how finely the graces can it foote
to the Instrument:
They daucen deffly, and singen soote,
in their merriment.
Wants [not] a fourth grace, to make the daunce euen?
Let that rowme to my Lady be yeuen:
She shalbe a grace,
To fyll the fourth place,
And reigne with the rest in heauen.

 And whither rennes this beuie of Ladies bright,
raunged in a rowe?
They bene all Ladyes of the lake behight,
that vnto her goe.
Chloris, that is the chiefest Nymph of al,
Of Oliue braunches beares a Coronall:
Oliues bene for peace,
When wars doe surcease:
Such for a Princesse bene principall.

 Ye shepheards daughters, that dwell on the greene,
hye you there apace:
Let none come there, but that Virgins bene,
to adorne her grace.
And when you come, whereas shee is in place,
See, that your rudenesse doe not you disgrace:
Binde your fillets faste,
And gird in your waste,
For more finesse with a tawdrie lace.

 Bring hether the Pincke and purple Cullambine,
With Gelliflowres:
Bring Coronations, and Sops in wine,
worne of Paramoures.
Strowe me the ground with Daffadowndillies,
And Cowslips, and Kingcups, and loued Lillies:
The pretie Pawnce,
And the Cheuisaunce,
Shall match with the fayre flowre Delice.

 Now ryse vp Elisa, decked as thou art,
in royall aray:
And now ye daintie Damsells may depart
echeone her way,
I feare, I haue troubled your troupes to longe:
Let dame Eliza thanke you for her song.
And if you come hether,
When Damsines I gether,
I will part them all you among.

And was thilk same song of Colins owne making?
Ah foolish boy, that is with loue yblent:
Great pittie is, he be in such taking,
For nought caren, that bene so lewdly bent.
Sicker I hold him, for a greater fon,
That loues the thing, he cannot purchase.
But let vs homeward: for night draweth on,
And twincling starres the daylight hence chase.
Thenots Embleme.

 O quam te memorem virgo?

 Hobbinols Embleme.

 O dea certe.

G L O S S E.

Gars thee greete) causeth thee to weepe and complain.

Forlorne) left & forsaken.

Attempred to the yeare) agreeable to the season of the yeare. that is Aprill, which moneth is most bent to shoures and seasonable rayne: to quench, that is, to delaye the drought, caused through drynesse of March wyndes. 

The Ladde) Colin Clout)

The Lasse) Rosalinda.

Tressed locks) wrethed & curled.

Is he for a ladde) A straunge manner of speaking .s. what maner of Ladde is he?

To make) to rime and versifye. For in this word making, our olde Englishe Poetes were wont to comprehend all the skil of Poetrye, according to the Greeke woorde [poiein], to make, whence commeth the name of Poets.

Colin thou kenst) knowest. Seemeth hereby that Colin perteyneth to some Southern noble man, and perhaps in Surrye or Kent, the rather bicause he so often nameth the Kentish downes, and before, As lythe as lasse of Kent.

The Widowes) He calleth Rosalind the Widowes daughter of the glenne, that is, of a country Hamlet or borough, which I thinke is rather sayde to coloure and concele the person, then simply spoken. For it is well knowen, euen in spight of Colin and Hobbinoll, that shee is a Gentle woman of no meane house, nor endewed with anye vulgare and common gifts both of nature and manners: but such indeede, as neede nether Colin be ashamed to haue her made knowne by his verses, nor Hobbinoll be greued, that so she should be commended to immortalitie for her rare and singular Vertues: Specially deserving it no lesse, then eyther Myrto the most excellent Poete Theocritus his dearling, or Lauretta the diuine Petrarches Goddesse, or Himera the worthye Poete Stesichorus hys Idole: Vpon whom he is sayd so much to haue doted, that in regard of her excellencie, he scorned & wrote against the beauty of Helena. For which his praesumptuous and vnheedie hardinesse, he is sayde by vengeaunce of the Gods, thereat being offended, to haue lost bothe his eyes.

Frenne) a straunger. The word I thinke was first poetically put, and afterwarde vsed in commen custome of speach of forenne.

Dight) adorned.

Laye) a songe. as Roundelayes and Virelayes. In all this songe is not to be respected, what the worthinesse of her Maiestie deserueth, nor what to the highnes of a Prince is agreeable, but what is moste comely for the meanesse of a shepheards witte, or to conceiue, or to vtter. And therefore he calleth her Elysa, as through rudenesse tripping in her name: & a shepheards daughter, it being very vnfit, that a shepheards boy brought vp in the shepefold, should know, or euer seme to haue heard of a Queenes roialty. 

Ye daintie) is, as it were an Exordium ad preparandos animos.

Virgins) the nine Muses, daughters of Apollo and Memorie, whose abode the Poets faine to be on Parnassus, a hill in Grece, for that in that countrye specially florished the honor of all excellent studies.

Helicon) is both the name of a fountaine at the foote of Parnassus, and also of a mounteine in Baeotia, out of which floweth the famous Spring Castalius, dedicate also to the Muses: of which spring it is sayd, that when Pegasus the winged horse of Perseus (whereby is meant fame and flying renowme) strooke the grownde with his hoofe, sodenly thereout sprange a wel of moste cleare and pleasaunte water, which from thence forth was consecrate to the Muses & Ladies of learning.

Your siluer song) seemeth to imitate the lyke in Hesiodus [argureon melos>].

Syrinx) is the name of a Nymphe of Arcadie, whom when Pan being in loue pursued, she flying from him, of the Gods was turned into a reede. So that Pan catching at the Reedes in stede of the Damosell, and puffing hard (for he was almost out of wind) with hys breath made the Reedes to pype: which he seeing, tooke of them, and in remembraunce of his lost loue, made him a pype thereof. But here by Pan and Syrinx is not to bee thoughte, that the shephearde simplye meante those Poetical Gods: but rather supposing (as seemeth) her graces progenie to be divine and immortall (so as the Paynims were wont to iudge of all Kinges and Princes, according to Homeres saying. 

[Thumos de megas esti diotrepheos Basileos,]
[time d' ek dios esti philei o metiea Zeus]) 
could deuise no parents in his iudgement so worthy for her, as Pan the shepeheards God, and his best beloued Syrinx. So that by Pan is here meant the most famous and victorious King, her highnesse Father, late of worthy memorye K. Henry the eyght. And by that name, oftymes (as hereafter appeareth) be noted kings and mighty Potentates: And in some place Christ himself, who is the verye Pan and god of Shepheardes.

Cremosin coronet) he deuiseth her crowne to be of the finest and most delicate flowers, instede of perles and precious stones, wherewith Princes Diademes vse to bee adorned and embost. 

Embellish) beautifye and set out.

Phebe) the Moone, whom the Poets faine to be sister vnto Phaebus, that is the Sunne.

Medled) mingled.

Yfere) together. By the mingling of the Redde rose and the White, is meant the vniting of the two principall houses of Lancaster and of Yorke: by whose longe discord and deadly debate, this realm many yeares was sore traueiled, & almost cleane decayed. Til the famous Henry the seuenth, of the line of Lancaster, taking to wife the most vertuous Princesse Elisabeth, daughter to the fourth Edward of the house of Yorke, begat the most royal Henry the eyght aforesayde, in whom was the firste vnion of the Whyte Rose and the Redde.

Calliope)one of the nine Muses: to whome they assigne the honor of all Poeticall Inuention, and the firste glorye of the Heroicall verse. other say, that shee is the Goddesse of Rhetorick: but by Virgile it is manifeste, that they mystake the thyng. For there in hys Epigrams, that arte semeth to be attributed to Polymnia, saying: Signat cuncta manu, loquiturque Polymnia gestu. which seemeth specially to be meant of Action and elocution, both special partes of Rhetorick: besyde that her name, which (as some construe it) importeth great remembraunce, conteineth another part. but I holde rather with them, which call her Polymnia or Polyhymnia of her good singing.

Bay branches) be the signe of honor & victory, & therfore of myghty Conquerors worn in theyr triumphes, & eke of famous Poets, as saith Petrarch in hys Sonets. 

Arbor vittoriosa triomphale,
Honor d'Imperadori & di Poeti, &c.
The Graces) be three sisters, the daughters of Iupiter, whose names are Aglaia, Thalia, Euphrosyne, & Homer onely addeth a fourth .s. Pasithea) otherwise called Charites, that is thanks. whom the Poetes feyned to be the Godd esses of al bountie & comelines, which therefore (as sayth Theodontius) they make three, to wete, that men first ought to be gracious & bountiful to other freely, then to receiue benefits at other mens hands curteously, and thirdly to requite them thankfully: which are three sundry Actions in liberalitye. And Boccace saith, that they be painted naked, (as they were indeede on the tombe of C. Iulius Cæsar) the one hauing her backe toward vs, and her face fromwarde, as proceeding from vs: the other two toward vs, noting double thanke to be due to vs for the benefit, we haue done.

Deaffly) Finely and nimbly.

Soote) Sweete.

Meriment) Mirth.

Beuie) A beauie of Ladyes, is spoken figuratiuely for a company or troupe. the terme is taken of Larkes. For they say a Beuie of Larkes, euen as a Couey of Partridge, or an eye of Pheasaunts.

Ladyes of the lake) be Nymphes. For it was an olde opinion amongst the Auncient Heathen, that of euery spring and fountaine was a goddesse the Soueraigne. Whiche opinion stucke in the myndes of men not manye yeares sithence, by meanes of certain fine fablers and lowd lyers, such as were the Authors of King Arthure the great and such like, who tell many an vnlawfull leasing of the Ladyes of the Lake, that is, the Nymphes. For the word Nymphe in Greeke signifieth Well water, or otherwise a Spouse or Bryde.

[Behight]) called or named.

Cloris) the name of a Nymph, and signifieth greenesse, of whome is sayd, that Zephyrus the Westerne wind being in loue with her, and coueting her to wyfe, gaue her for a dowrie, the chiefedome and soueraigntye of al flowres and greene herbes, growing on earth.

Oliues bene) The Oliue was wont to be the ensigne of Peace and quietnesse, eyther for that it cannot be planted and pruned, and so carefully looked to, as it ought, but in time of peace: or els for that the Oliue tree, they say, will not growe neare the Firre tree, which is dedicate to Mars the God of battaile, and vsed most for speares and other instruments of warre. Whereupon is finely feigned, that when Neptune and Minerua strove for the naming of the citie of Athens, Neptune striking the ground with his mace, caused a horse to come forth, that importeth warre, but at Mineruaes stroke sprong out an Oliue, so note that it should be a nurse of learning, and such peaceable studies.

Binde your) Spoken rudely, and according to shepheardes simplicitye.

Bring) all these be names of flowers. Sops in wine a flowre in colour much like to a Coronation, but differeing in smel and quantitye. Flowre delice, that which they vse to misterme, Flowre de luce, being in Latine called Flos delitiarum.

A Bellibone) or a bonibell. homely spoken for a fayre mayde or Bonilasse.

 Forswonck and forswatt) ouerlaboured and sunneburnt.

I saw Phaebus) the sunne. A sensible Narration, and present view of the thing mentioned, which they call [parousia].

Cynthia) the Moone so called of Cynthus a hyll, where she was honored.

Latonaes seede) Was Apollo and Diana. Whom when as Niobe the wife of Amphion scorned, in respect of the noble fruict of her wombe, namely her seuen sonnes, and so many daughters, Latona being therewith displeased, commaunded her sonne Phoebus to slea al the sonnes, and Diana all the daughters: whereat the vnfortunate Niobe being sore dismayed, and lamenting out of measure, was feigned of the Poetes, to be turned into a stone vpon the sepulchre of her children. for which cause the shepheard sayth, he will not compare her to them, for feare of like mysfortune.

Now rise) is the conclusion. For hauing so decked her with prayses and comparisons, he returneth all the thanck of hys laboure to the excellencie of her Maiestie.

When Damsins) A base reward of a clownish giuer.

Yblent) Y, is a poeticall addition. blent blinded.


This Poesye is taken out of Virgile, and there of him vsed in the person of Æneas to his mother Venus, appearing to him in likenesse of one of Dianaes damosells: being there most divinely set forth. To which similitude of diuinitie Hobbinoll comparing the excelency of Elisa, and being through the worthynes of Colins song, as it were ouercome with the hugenesse of his imagination, brusteth out in great admiration, (O quam te memore virgo?) being otherwise vnhable, then by soddein silence, to expresse the worthinesse of his conceipt. Whom Thenot answereth with another part of the like verse, as confirming by his graunt and approuaunce, that Elisa is nowhit inferiour to the Maiestie of her, of whome that Poete so boldly pronounced, O dea certe.

Go on to May.

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