The Shepheardes Calender: February
Note on this Renascence
is copyright © The University of
Oregon; it is distributed for scholarly and nonprofit purposes only.
A R G V M E N
is rather morall and generall, then bent to any secrete or particlar purpose.
It specially conteyneth a discourse of old age, in the persone of Thenot
olde Shepheard, who for his crookednesse and vnlustinesse, is scorned of
Cuddie an vnhappy Heardmans boye. The matter very well accordeth
with the season of the moneth, the yeare now drouping, & as it were,
drawing to his last age. For as in this time of yeare, so then in our bodies
there is a dry & withering cold, which congealeth the crudled blood,
and frieseth the wetherbeaten flesh, with stormes of Fortune, & hoare
frosts of Care. To which purpose the olde man telleth a tale of the Oake
and the Bryer, so lively, and so feelingly, as if the thing were set forth
in some Picture before our eyes, more plainly could not appeare.
AH for pittie,
wil ranke Winters rage,
These bitter blasts neuer ginne
The keene cold
blowes throug my beaten hyde,
All as I were through the body gryde.
My ragged rontes
all shiver and shake,
As doen high Towers in an earthquake:
They wont in the wind wagge their
Perke as Peacock: but nowe it auales.
Lewdly complainest thou
Of Winters wracke,
for making thee sadde.
Must not the world wend in his commun
From good to badd, and from badde
From worse vnto that is worst of
And then returne to his former fall?
Who will not suffer the stormy time,
Where will he liue tyll the lusty
Selfe haue I worne out thrise threttie
Some in much ioy, many in many teares:
Yet never complained of cold nor
Of Sommers flame, nor of Winters
Ne euer was to Fortune foeman,
But gently tooke, that vngently
And euer my flocke was my chiefe
Winter or Sommer they mought well
No marueile Thenot,
if thou can not beare
Cherefully the Winters wrathfull
For Age and Winter accord full nie,
This chill, that cold, this crooked,
And as the lowring Wether lookes
So semest thou like good fryday
But my flowring youth is foe to
My shippe vnwont in stormes to be
of seas he blames in vaine,
That once seabeate, will to sea
So loytring liue you little heardgroomes,
Keeping your beastes in the budded
And when the shining sunne laugheth
You deemen, the Spring is come attonce.
Tho gynne you, fond
flyes, the cold to scorn,
And crowing in pypes made of greene
You thinken to be Lords of the yeare.
But eft, when
ye count you freed from feare,
Comes the breme
winter with chamfred browes,
Full of wrinckles and frostie furrowes:
Drerily shooting his stormy darte,
Which cruddles the blood, and pricks
Then is your carelesse corage accoied,
Your carefull heards with cold bene
Then paye you the price of your
With weeping, and wayling, and misery.
Ah foolish old man, I scorne
That wouldest me, my springing yougth
I deeme, thy braine emperished bee
Through rusty elde,
that hath rotted thee:
thy head veray tottie is,
So on thy corbe
shoulder it leanes amisse.
Now thy selfe hast lost both lopp
Als my budding branch thou wouldest
But were thy yeares greene, as now
To other delights they would encline.
Tho wouldest thou learne to caroll
And hery with
hymnes thy lasses gloue.
Tho wouldest thou pype of Phyllis
But Phyllis is myne for many
I wonne her with a girdle of gelt,
Embost with buegle about the belt.
Such an one shepeheards woulde make
Such an one would make thee younge
Thou art a fon,
of thy loue to boste,
All that is lent to loue, wyll be
Seest, howe brag yond Bullocke
So smirke, so smoothe, his pricked
His hornes bene as broade, as Rainebowe
His dewelap as lythe,
as lasse of Kent.
See howe he venteth
into the wynd.
Weenest of loue is not his mynd?
Seemeth thy flock thy counsell can,
So lustlesse bene they, so weake
Clothed with cold, and hoary wyth
Thy flocks father
his corage hath lost:
Thy Ewes, that wont to haue blowen
Like wailful widdowes hangen their
The rather Lambes
bene starued with cold,
All for their Maister is lustlesse
Cuddie, I wote thou
kenst little good,
So vainely taduance thy headlesse
For Youngth is
a bubble blown vp with breath,
Whose witt is weakenesse, whose
wage is death,
Whose way is wildernesse, whose
And stoopegallaunt Age the hoste
But shall I tel thee a tale of truth,
Which I cond of Tityrus
in my youth,
Keeping his sheepe on the hils of
To nought more, Thenot,
my mind is bent,
Then to heare nouells of his deuise:
They bene so well
thewed, and so wise,
What euer that good old man bespake.
Many meete tales of youth
did he make,
And some of loue, and some of cheualrie:
But none fitter than this to applie.
Now listen a while, and hearken
an aged Tree on the greene,
A goodly Oake sometime had it bene,
With armes full strong and largely
But of their leaues they were disarayde:
The bodie bigge, and mightily pight,
Throughly rooted, and of wonderous
Whilome had bene the King of the
And mochell mast to the husband
And with his nuts larded many swine.
But now the gray mosse marred his
His bared boughes were beaten with
His toppe was bald, & wasted
His honor decayed, his braunches
Hard by his side grew
a bragging brere,
Which proudly thrust into Thelement,
And seemed to threat the Firmament.
Yt was embellisht
with blossomes fayre,
And thereto aye wonned
The shepheards daughters, to gather
To peinct thir girlonds with his
And in his small bushes vsed to
The sweete Nightingale singing so
Which made this foolish Brere wexe
That on a time he cast him to scold,
the good Oake, for he was old.
standst there (quoth he) thou brutish blocke?
Nor for fruict, nor for shadowe
serues thy stocke:
Seest, how fresh my flowers bene
Dyed in Lilly white, and Cremsin
With leaves engrained
in lusty greene,
Colours meete to clothe a mayden
Thy wast bignes but combers the
And dirks the beauty of my blossomes
The mouldie mosse, which thee accloieth,
My Sinnamon smell too much annoieth.
Wherefore soone I rede thee, hence
Least thou the price of my displeasure
So spake this bold brere with great
Little him answered the Oake againe,
But yielded, with shame and greefe
That of a weede he was ouerawed.
Yt chaunced after vpon
The Hus-bandman selfe to come that
Of custome to seruewe his grownd,
And his trees
of state in compasse rownd.
Him when the spitefull brere had
Causlesse complained, and lowdly
Vnto his Lord, stirring vp sterne
O my liege
Lord, the God of my life,
Pleaseth you ponder your Suppliants
Caused of wrong, and cruell constraint,
Which I your poore Vassall dayly
And but your goodnes the same recure,
Am like for desperate doole to dye,
Through felonous force of mine enemie.
Greatly aghast with
this piteous plea,
Him rested the goodman on the lea,
And badde the Brere in his plaint
With painted words tho gan this
(As most vsen Ambitious folke:)
His colowred crime with craft to
Ah my soueraigne, Lord
of creatures all,
Thou placer of plants both humble
Was not I planted of thine owne
To be the
primrose of all thy land,
With flowring blossomes, to furnish
And scarlot berries in Sommer time?
How falls it then, that this faded
Whose bodie is sere, whose braunches
Armes stretch vnto the fyre,
Vnto such tyrannie doth aspire:
Hindering with his shade my louely
And robbing me of the swete sonnes
So beate his old boughes my tender
That oft the
bloud springeth from wounds wyde:
Vntimely my flowres forced to fall,
That bene the honor of your Coranall.
And oft he lets his cancker wormes
Vpon my braunches, to worke me more
And oft his hoarie
locks downe doth cast,
Where with my fresh flowretts
For this, and many more such outrage,
Crauing your goodlihead to aswage
The ranckorous rigour of his might,
Nought aske I, but onely to hold
Submitting me to your good sufferance,
And praying to be garded from greeuance.
To this the Oake cast
him to replie
Well as he couth: but his enemie
Had kindled such coles of displeasure,
That the good man noulde stay his
But home him hasted with furious
Encreasing his wrath with many a
His harmefull Hatchet he hent
(Alas, that it so ready should stand)
And to the field alone he speedeth.
(Ay little helpe
to harme there needeth)
let him speake to the tree,
his rage mought cooled bee:
But to the roote bent his sturdy
And made many wounds
in the wast Oake.
The Axes edge did oft turne againe,
As if halfe vnwilling to cutte the
Semed, the sencelesse yron dyd feare,
Or to wrong holy eld did forbeare.
For it had bene an auncient tree,
Sacred with many a mysteree,
And often crost with the priestes
And often halowed with holy water
But sike fancies weren foolerie,
And broughten this Oake to this
For nought mought they quitten him
For fiercely the good man at him
The blocke oft
vnder the blow,
And sighed to see his neare ouerthrow.
In fine the steele had pierced his
Tho downe to the earth he fell forthwith:
His wonderous weight made the grounde
Thearth shronke vnder him, and seemed
There lyeth the Oake, pitied of
Now stands the Brere
like a Lord alone,
Puffed vp with pryde and vaine pleasaunce:
But all this glee
had no continuaunce.
For eftsones Winter gan to approche,
The blustring Boreas
And beate vpon the solitarie Brere:
For nowe no succoure was seene him
Now gan he repent his pryde to late:
For naked left and disconsolate,
The byting frost nipt his stalke
The watrie wette weighed downe his
And heaped snowe burdned him so
That nowe vpright he can stand no
And being downe, is trodde in the
Of cattell, and brouzed, and sorely
Such was thend of this Ambitious
For scorning Eld
Now I pray thee shepheard,
tel it not forth:
Here is a long tale, and little
So longe haue I listned to thy speche,
That graffed to the ground is my
My hartblood is welnigh frorne I
And my galage
growne fast to my heele:
But little ease of thy lewd tale
Hye thee home shepheard, the day
is nigh wasted.
Fa suoi al suo
G L O S S E.
sharpe. Gride) perced: an olde word much vsed
of Lidgate, but not found (that I know of) in Chaucer.
ruine or Violence, whence commeth shipwracke: and not wreake, that is vengeaunce
the name of a shepheard in Marot his Æglogues.
soueraigne of Seas) is Neptune the God of the seas. The saying is borrowed
of Mimus Publianus, which vsed this prouerb in a verse.
accusat, qui iterum naufragium facit.
Chaucers verse almost whole.
Flyes) He compareth carelesse sluggardes or ill husbandmen to flyes, that
so soone as the sunne shineth, or yt wexeth any thing warme, begin to flye
abroade when sodeinely they be overtaken with cold.
eft when A verye excellent and liuely description of Winter, so as may
bee indifferently taken, eyther for old Age, or for Winter season.
chapt, or wrinckled.
plucked downe and daunted.
the name of some mayde vnknowen, whom Cuddie, whose person is secrete,
loued. The name is vsuall in Theocritus, Virgile, and Mantuane.
a girdle or wast band.
fon) a foole.
soft & gentile.
snuffeth in the wind.
flockes Father) the Ramme.
Lambes) that be ewed early in the beginning of the yeare.
is) A verye moral and pitthy Allegorie of youth, and the lustes thereof
compared to a wearie wayfaring man.
I suppose he meane Chaucer, whose prayse for pleasaunt tales cannot dye,
so long as the memorie of hys name shal liue, and the name of Poetrie shal
thewed) that is, Bene moratae, full of morall wisenesse.
grew) This tale of the Oake and the Brere, he telleth as learned of Chaucer,
but it is cleane in another kind, and rather like to Aesopes fables. It
is very excellente for pleasaunt descriptions, being altogether a certaine
Ico n or Hypotyposis of disdainfull younkers.
beautified and adorned.
wonne) to haunt or frequent.
standst) The speach is scorneful & very presumptuous.
dyed in grain.
daunted & confounded.
of state) taller trees fitte for timber wood.
strife) said Chaucer .s. fell and sturdy.
my leige) a maner of supplication, wherein is kindly coloured the affection
and speache of Ambitious men.
Primrose) The chiefe and worthiest.
armes) metaphorically ment of the bare boughes, spoyled of leaues. This
colourably he speaketh, as adiudging hym to the fyre.
blood) spoken of a blocke, as it were of a living creature, figuratiuely,
and (as they saye) [kat eikasmon].
lockes) metaphorically for withered leaues.
for would not.
priestes crewe) holy water pott, wherewith the popishe priest vsed to sprinckle
& hallowe the trees from mischaunce. Such blindnesse was in those times,
which the Poete supposeth, to haue bene the finall decay of thi s auncient
blocke oft groned) A liuelye figure, whiche geueth sence and feeling to
vnsensible creatures, as Virgile also sayeth: Saxa gemunt grauido &c.
the Northerne wynd, that bringeth the most stormie weather.
chere and iollitie.
scorning Eld) and minding (as shoulde seme) to haue made ryme to the former
verse, he is conningly cutte of by Cuddye, as disdayning to here any more.
a startuppe or clownish shoe.
This embleme is spoken
of Thenot, as a moral of his former tale: namelye, that God, which is himselfe
most aged, being before al ages, and without beginninge, maketh those,
whom he loueth like to himselfe, in heaping yeares vnto theyre dayes, and
blessing them wyth longe lyfe. For the blessing of age is not giuen to
all, but vnto those, whom God will so blesse: and albeit that many euil
men reache vnto such fulnesse of yeares, and some also wexe olde in myserie
and thraldome, yet therefore is not age euer the lesse blessing. For euen
to such evill men such number of yeares is added, that they may in their
last dayes repent, and come to their first home. So the old man checketh
the rashheaded for despysing his gray and frosty heares.
Whom Cuddye doth
counterbuff with a byting and bitter prouerbe, spoken indeede at the first
in contempt of old age generally. for it was an old opinion, and yet is
continued in some mens conceipt, that men of yeares have no feare of god
at al, or not so much as younger folke. For that being rypened with long
experience, and hauing passed many bitter brunts and blastes of vengeaunce,
they dread no stormes of Fortune, nor wrathe of Gods, nor daunger of menne,
as being eyther by longe and ripe wisedome armed against all mischaunces
and aduersitie, or with much trouble hardened against all troublesome tydes:
lyke vnto the Ape, of which is sayd in Æsops fables, that oftentimes
meeting the Lyon, he was at first sore aghast & dismayed at the grimnes
and austeritie of hys countenance, but at last being acquianted with his
lookes, he was so furre from fearing him, that he would familiarly gybe
and iest with him: Suche long experience breedeth in some men securitie.
Although it please Erasimus a great clerke and good old father, more fatherly
and fauourablye to construe it in his Adages for his own behoofe, That
by the prouerbe Nemo Senex metuit Iouem, is not meant, that old men haue
no feare of God at al, but that they be furre from superstition and Idolatrous
regard of false Gods, as is Iupiter. But his greate learning notwithstanding,
it is to plaine, to be gainsayd, that olde men are muche more enclined
to such fond fooleries, then younger heades.
Go on to March.