The Shepheardes Calender: March

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 March]

Ægloga Tertia.

 A R G V M E N T.

IN this Æglogue two shepheards boyes taking occasion of the season, beginne to make purpose of loue and other pleasaunce, which to springtime is most agreeable. The speciall meaning hereof is, to giue certaine markes and tokens, to know Cupide the Poets God of Loue. But more particularlye I thinke, in the person of Thomalin is meant some secrete freend, who scorned Loue and his knights so long, till at length him selfe was entangled, and unwares wounded with the dart of some beautifull regard, which is Cupides arrowe.
Willye       Thomalin.
THomalin, why sytten we soe,
As weren ouerwent with woe,
Vpon so fayre a morow?
The ioyous time now nighest fast,
That shall alegge this bitter blast,
And slake the winters sorowe.
Sicker Willye, thou warnest well:
For Winters wrath beginnes to quell,
And pleasant spring appeareth.
The grasse now ginnes to be refresht,
The Swallow peepes out of her nest,
And clowdie Welkin cleareth.
Seest not thilke same Hawthorne studde,
How bragly it beginnes to budde,
And vtter his tender head?
Flora now calleth forth eche flower,
And bids make ready Maias bowre,
That newe is vpryst from bedde.
Tho shall we sporten in delight,
And learne with Lettice to wexe light,
That scornefully lookes askaunce,
Tho will we little Loue awake,
That nowe sleepeth in Lethe lake,
And pray him leaden our daunce.
Willye, I wene thou bee assott:
For lustie Loue still sleepeth not,
But is abroad at his game.
How kenst thou, that he is awoke?
Or hast thy selfe his slomber broke?
Or made preuie to the same?
No, but happely I hym spyde,
Where in a bush he did him hide,
With winges of purple and blewe.
And were not, that my sheepe would stray,
The preuie marks I would bewray,
Whereby by chaunce I him knewe.
Thomalin, haue no care for thy,
My selfe will haue a double eye,
Ylike to my flocke and thine:
For als at home I haue a syre,
A stepdame eke as whott as fyre,
That dewly adayes counts mine.
Nay, but thy seeing will not serue,
My sheepe for that may chaunce to swerue,
And fall into some mischiefe.
For sithens is but the third morowe,
That I chaunst to fall a sleepe with sorowe,
And waked againe with griefe:
The while thilke same vnhappye Ewe,
Whose clouted legge her hurt doth shewe,
Fell headlong into a dell.
And there vnioynted both her bones:
Mought her necke bene ioynted attones,
She shoulde haue neede no more spell.
Thelf was so wanton and so wood,
(But now I trowe can better good)
She mought ne gang on the greene,
Let be, as may be, that is past:
That is to come, let be forecast.
Now tell vs, what thou hast seene.
It was vpon a holiday,
When shepheardes groomes han leaue to playe,
I cast to goe a shooting.
Long wandring vp and downe the land,
With bowe and bolts in either hand,
For birds in bushes tooting:
At length within an Yuie todde
(There shrouded was the little God)
I heard a busie bustling.
I bent my bow against the bush,
Listening if any thing did rushe,
But then heard no more rustling.
Tho peeping close into the thicke,
Might see the mouing of some quicke.
Whose shape appeared not:
But were it faerie, feend, or snake,
My courage earnd it to awake,
And manfully thereat shotte.
With that sprong forth a naked swayne,
With spotted winges like Peacocks trayne,
And laughing lope to a tree.
His gylden quiuer at his backe,
And silver bowe, which was but slacke,
Which lightly he bent at me.
That seeing, I leuelde againe,
And shott at him with might and maine,
As thicke, as it had hayled.
So long I shott, that al was spent:
Tho pumie stones I hastly hent,
And threwe: but nought availed:
He was so wimble, and so wight,
From bough to bough he lepped light,
And oft the pumies latched.
Therewith affrayd I ranne away:
But he, that earst seemd but to playe,
A shaft in earnest snatched,
And hit me running in the heele:
For then I little smart did feele:
But soone it sore encreased.
And now it ranckleth more and more,
And inwardly it festreth sore,
Ne wote I, how to cease it.
Thomalin, I pittie thy plight.
Perdie with loue thou diddest fight:
I know him by a token.
For once I heard my father say,
How he him caught vpon a day,
(Whereof he wilbe wroken)
Entangled in a fowling net,
Which he for carrion Crowes had set,
That in our Peeretree haunted.
Tho sayd, he was a winged lad,
But bowe and shafts as then none had:
Els had he sore be daunted.
But see the Welkin thicks apace,
And stouping Phebus steepes his face:
Yts time to hast vs homeward.
Willyes Embleme.
To be wise and eke to loue,
Is graunted scarce to God aboue.
Thomalins Embleme.
Of Hony and of Gaule in loue there is store:
The Honye is much, but the Gaule is more.


THIS Æglogue seemeth somewhat to resemble that same of Theocritus, wherein the boy likewise telling the old man, that he had shot at a winged boy in a tree, was by hym warned, to beware of mischiefe to come.

Ouerwent) overgone.

Alegge) to lessen or aswage.

To quell) to abate.

Welkin) the skie.

The swallow) which bird vseth to be counted the messenger, as it were, the fore runner of springe.

Flora) the Goddesse of flowres, but indede (as saith Tacitus) a famous harlot, which with the abuse of her body hauing gotten great riches, made the people of Rome her heyre: who in remembraunce of so great beneficence, appointed a yearely feste for the memoriall of her, calling her, not as she was, nor as some doe think, Andronica, but Flora: making her the Goddesse of all floures, and doing yerely to her solemne sacrifice.

Maias bowre) that is the pleasaunt fielde, or rather the Maye bushes. Maia is a Goddes and the mother of Mercurie, in honour of whome the moneth of Maye is of her name so called, as sayth Macrobius.

Lettice) the name of some country lasse.

Ascaunce) askewe or asquint.

For thy) therefore.

Lethe) is a lake in hell, which the Poetes call the lake of forgetfulnes. For Lethe signifieth forgetfulnes. Wherein the soules being dipped, did forget the cares of their former lyfe. So that by loue sleeping in Lethe lake, he meaneth he was almost forgotten and out of knowledge, by reason of winters hardnesse, when al pleasures, as it were, sleepe and weare out of mynde.

Assotte) to dote.

His slomber) To breake Loues slomber, is to exercise the delightes of Loue and wanton pleasures.

Winges of purple) so is he feigned of the Poetes.

For als) he imitateth Virgils verse. 

Est mihi namque domi pater, est iniusta nouerca &c.
A dell) a hole in the ground.

Spell) is a kind of verse or charme, that in elder tymes they vsed often to say ouer euery thing, that they would haue preserued, as the Nightspel for theeues, and the woodspell. And herehence I thinke is named the gospell, as it were Gods spell or worde. And so sayth Chaucer, Listeneth Lordings to my spell.

Gange) goe 

An Yuie todde) a thicke bushe.

Swaine) a boye: for so he is described of the Poetes, to be a boye .s. alwayes freshe and lustie: blindfolded, because he maketh no difference of Personages: wyth diuers coloured winges, .s. ful of flying fancies: with bowe and arrow, that is with glaunce of beautye, which prycketh as a forked arrowe. He is sayd also to haue shafts, some leaden, some golden: that is, both pleasure for the gracious and loued, and sorow for the louer that is disdayned or forsaken. But who liste more at large to behold Cupids colours and furniture, let him reade ether Propertius, or Moschus his Idyllion of wandring loue, being now most excellently translated into Latine by the singuler learned man Angelus Politianus: Whych worke I haue seene amongst other of thys Poets doings, very wel translated also into Englishe Rymes. 

Wimble and wighte) Quicke and deliuer.

In the heele) is very Poetically spoken, and not without speciall iudgement. For I remember, that in Homer it is sayd of Thetis, that shee tooke her young babe Achilles being newely borne, and holding him by the heele, dipped him in the River of Styx. The vertue whereof is, to defend and keepe the bodyes washed therein from any mortall wound. So Achilles being washed al ouer, saue anely his hele, by which his mother held, was in the rest [invulnerable]: therfore by Paris was feyned to bee shotte with a poysoned arrowe in the heele, whiles he was busie about the marying of Polyena in the temple of Apollo. Which mysticall fable Eustathius vnfolding, sayth: that by wounding in the hele, is meant lustfull loue. For from the heele (as say the best Phisitions) to the preuie partes there passe certaine veines and slender synnewes, as also the like come from the head, and are carryed lyke little pypes behynd the eares: so that (as sayth Hippocrates) yf those veynes there be cut a sonder, the partie straighte becometh cold and vnfruiteful. which reason our Poete wel weighing, maketh this shepheards boye of purpose to be wounded by Loue in the heele. 

Latched) caught. 

Wroken) reuenged.

For once) In this tale is sette out the simplicitye of shepheards opinion of Loue.

Stouping Phaebus) Is a Periphrasis of the sunne setting.


Hereby is meant, that all the delights of Loue, wherein wanton youth walloweth, be but follye mixt with bitternesse, and sorow sawced with repentaunce. For besides that the very affection of Loue it selfe tormenteth the mynde, and vexeth the body many wayes, with vnrestfulnesse all night, and wearines all day, seeking for that we can not haue: euen the selfe things which best before vs liked, in course of time and chaung of ryper yeares, whiche also therewithall chaungeth our wonted lyking and former fantasies, will then seeme lothsome and breede vs annoyaunce, when yougthes flowre is withered, and we fynde our bodyes and wits aunswere not to suche vayne iollitie and lustfull pleasaunce.

Go on to April.

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