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
A R G V M E N T.
Thenot. Hobbinoll.TEll me good Hobbinoll, what garres thee greete?
O quam te memorem virgo?
O dea certe.
G L O S S E.
Gars thee greete) causeth thee to weepe and complain.
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.
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.
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>].
is the name of a Nymphe of Arcadie, whom when Pan being in loue
she flying from him, of the Gods was turned into a reede. So that Pan
at the Reedes in stede of the Damosell, and puffing hard (for he was
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
But here by Pan and Syrinx is not to bee thoughte, that the shephearde
simplye meante those Poetical Gods: but rather supposing (as seemeth)
graces progenie to be divine and immortall (so as the Paynims were wont
to iudge of all Kinges
[Thumos de megas esti diotrepheos Basileos,]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.
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,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.
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.
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.
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.