The Shepheardes Calender: February

Note on this Renascence Editions text:

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

[Woodcut for February]

 Ægloga Secunda.

 A R G V M E N T.

THis Æglogue 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 an 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 tasswage?
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 wrigle tailes,
Perke as Peacock: but nowe it auales.
   Lewdly complainest thou laesie ladde,
Of Winters wracke, for making thee sadde.
Must not the world wend in his commun course
From good to badd, and from badde to worse,
From worse vnto that is worst of all,
And then returne to his former fall?
Who will not suffer the stormy time,
Where will he liue tyll the lusty prime?
Selfe haue I worne out thrise threttie yeares,
Some in much ioy, many in many teares:
Yet never complained of cold nor heate,
Of Sommers flame, nor of Winters threat:
Ne euer was to Fortune foeman,
But gently tooke, that vngently came.
And euer my flocke was my chiefe care,
Winter or Sommer they mought well fare.
   No marueile Thenot, if thou can not beare
Cherefully the Winters wrathfull cheare:
For Age and Winter accord full nie,
This chill, that cold, this crooked, that wrye.
And as the lowring Wether lookes downe,
So semest thou like good fryday to frowne.
But my flowring youth is foe to frost,
My shippe vnwont in stormes to be tost.
   The soueraigne of seas he blames in vaine,
That once seabeate, will to sea againe.
So loytring liue you little heardgroomes,
Keeping your beastes in the budded broomes:
And when the shining sunne laugheth once,
You deemen, the Spring is come attonce.
Tho gynne you, fond flyes, the cold to scorn,
And crowing in pypes made of greene corne,
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 the harte.
Then is your carelesse corage accoied,
Your carefull heards with cold bene annoied.
Then paye you the price of your surqedrie,
With weeping, and wayling, and misery.
   Ah foolish old man, I scorne thy skill,
That wouldest me, my springing yougth to spil.
I deeme, thy braine emperished bee
Through rusty elde, that hath rotted thee:
Or sicker thy head veray tottie is,
So on thy corbe shoulder it leanes amisse.
Now thy selfe hast lost both lopp and topp,
Als my budding branch thou wouldest cropp:
But were thy yeares greene, as now bene myne,
To other delights they would encline.
Tho wouldest thou learne to caroll of Loue,
And hery with hymnes thy lasses gloue.
Tho wouldest thou pype of Phyllis prayse:
But Phyllis is myne for many dayes:
I wonne her with a girdle of gelt,
Embost with buegle about the belt.
Such an one shepeheards woulde make full faine:
Such an one would make thee younge againe.
   Thou art a fon, of thy loue to boste,
All that is lent to loue, wyll be lost.
   Seest, howe brag yond Bullocke beares,
So smirke, so smoothe, his pricked eares?
His hornes bene as broade, as Rainebowe bent,
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 so wan,
Clothed with cold, and hoary wyth frost.
Thy flocks father his corage hath lost:
Thy Ewes, that wont to haue blowen bags,
Like wailful widdowes hangen their crags:
The rather Lambes bene starued with cold,
All for their Maister is lustlesse and old.
   Cuddie, I wote thou kenst little good,
So vainely taduance thy headlesse hood.
For Youngth is a bubble blown vp with breath,
Whose witt is weakenesse, whose wage is death,
Whose way is wildernesse, whose ynne Penaunce,
And stoopegallaunt Age the hoste of Greeuance.
But shall I tel thee a tale of truth,
Which I cond of Tityrus in my youth,
Keeping his sheepe on the hils of Kent?
   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 the end.

 THere grewe an aged Tree on the greene,
A goodly Oake sometime had it bene,
With armes full strong and largely displayd,
But of their leaues they were disarayde:
The bodie bigge, and mightily pight,
Throughly rooted, and of wonderous hight:
Whilome had bene the King of the field,
And mochell mast to the husband did yielde,
And with his nuts larded many swine.
But now the gray mosse marred his rine,
His bared boughes were beaten with stormes,
His toppe was bald, & wasted with wormes,
His honor decayed, his braunches sere.
   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 to repayre
The shepheards daughters, to gather flowres,
To peinct thir girlonds with his colowres.
And in his small bushes vsed to shrowde
The sweete Nightingale singing so lowde:
Which made this foolish Brere wexe so bold,
That on a time he cast him to scold,
And snebbe the good Oake, for he was old.
   Why standst there (quoth he) thou brutish blocke?
Nor for fruict, nor for shadowe serues thy stocke:
Seest, how fresh my flowers bene spredde,
Dyed in Lilly white, and Cremsin redde,
With leaves engrained in lusty greene,
Colours meete to clothe a mayden Queene.
Thy wast bignes but combers the grownd,
And dirks the beauty of my blossomes rownd.
The mouldie mosse, which thee accloieth,
My Sinnamon smell too much annoieth.
Wherefore soone I rede thee, hence remove,
Least thou the price of my displeasure proue.
So spake this bold brere with great disdaine:
Little him answered the Oake againe,
But yielded, with shame and greefe adawed,
That of a weede he was ouerawed.
   Yt chaunced after vpon a day,
The Hus-bandman selfe to come that way,
Of custome to seruewe his grownd,
And his trees of state in compasse rownd.
Him when the spitefull brere had espyed,
Causlesse complained, and lowdly cryed
Vnto his Lord, stirring vp sterne strife:
O my liege Lord, the God of my life,
Pleaseth you ponder your Suppliants plaint,
Caused of wrong, and cruell constraint,
Which I your poore Vassall dayly endure:
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 proceede.
With painted words tho gan this proude weede,
(As most vsen Ambitious folke:)
His colowred crime with craft to cloke.
   Ah my soueraigne, Lord of creatures all,
Thou placer of plants both humble and tall,
Was not I planted of thine owne hand,
To be the primrose of all thy land,
With flowring blossomes, to furnish the prime,
And scarlot berries in Sommer time?
How falls it then, that this faded Oake,
Whose bodie is sere, whose braunches broke,
Whose naked Armes stretch vnto the fyre,
Vnto such tyrannie doth aspire:
Hindering with his shade my louely light,
And robbing me of the swete sonnes sight?
So beate his old boughes my tender side,
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 light
Vpon my braunches, to worke me more spight:
And oft his hoarie locks downe doth cast,
Where with my fresh flowretts bene defast.
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 my right:
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 leasure,
But home him hasted with furious heate,
Encreasing his wrath with many a threate.
His harmefull Hatchet he hent in hand,
(Alas, that it so ready should stand)
And to the field alone he speedeth.
(Ay little helpe to harme there needeth)
Anger nould let him speake to the tree,
Enaunter his rage mought cooled bee:
But to the roote bent his sturdy stroke,
And made many wounds in the wast Oake.
The Axes edge did oft turne againe,
As if halfe vnwilling to cutte the graine:
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 crewe,
And often halowed with holy water dewe.
But sike fancies weren foolerie,
And broughten this Oake to this miserye.
For nought mought they quitten him from decay:
For fiercely the good man at him did laye.
The blocke oft groned vnder the blow,
And sighed to see his neare ouerthrow.
In fine the steele had pierced his pith,
Tho downe to the earth he fell forthwith:
His wonderous weight made the grounde to quake,
Thearth shronke vnder him, and seemed to shake.
There lyeth the Oake, pitied of none.
   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 did encroche,
And beate vpon the solitarie Brere:
For nowe no succoure was seene him nere.
Now gan he repent his pryde to late:
For naked left and disconsolate,
The byting frost nipt his stalke dead,
The watrie wette weighed downe his head,
And heaped snowe burdned him so sore,
That nowe vpright he can stand no more:
And being downe, is trodde in the durt
Of cattell, and brouzed, and sorely hurt.
Such was thend of this Ambitious brere,
For scorning Eld

   Now I pray thee shepheard, tel it not forth:
Here is a long tale, and little worth.
So longe haue I listned to thy speche,
That graffed to the ground is my breache:
My hartblood is welnigh frorne I feele,
And my galage growne fast to my heele:
But little ease of thy lewd tale I tasted.
Hye thee home shepheard, the day is nigh wasted.
Thenots Embleme.

 Iddio perche é vecchio,
Fa suoi al suo essempio.

 Cuddies Embleme.

 Niuno vecchio,
Spaventa Iddio.

G L O S S E.

Kene) sharpe. Gride) perced: an olde word much vsed of Lidgate, but not found (that I know of) in Chaucer.

Ronts) young bullockes.

Wracke) ruine or Violence, whence commeth shipwracke: and not wreake, that is vengeaunce or wrath.

Foeman) a foe.

Thenot) the name of a shepheard in Marot his Æglogues.

The soueraigne of Seas) is Neptune the God of the seas. The saying is borrowed of Mimus Publianus, which vsed this prouerb in a verse. 

Improbe Neptunum accusat, qui iterum naufragium facit.
Heardgromes) Chaucers verse almost whole.

Fond 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.

But eft when A verye excellent and liuely description of Winter, so as may bee indifferently taken, eyther for old Age, or for Winter season.

Breme) chill, bitter.

Chamfred) chapt, or wrinckled.

Accoied) plucked downe and daunted.

Surquedrie) pryde.

Elde) olde age.

Sicker) sure.

Tottie) wauering.

Corbe) crooked.

Herie) worshippe.

Phyllis) the name of some mayde vnknowen, whom Cuddie, whose person is secrete, loued. The name is vsuall in Theocritus, Virgile, and Mantuane.

Belte) a girdle or wast band.

A fon) a foole.

Lythe) soft & gentile.

Venteth) snuffeth in the wind.

Thy flockes Father) the Ramme.

Crags) neckes.

Rather Lambes) that be ewed early in the beginning of the yeare.

Youth is) A verye moral and pitthy Allegorie of youth, and the lustes thereof compared to a wearie wayfaring man.

Tityrus) 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 endure.

Well thewed) that is, Bene moratae, full of morall wisenesse.

There 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.

Embellisht) beautified and adorned.

To wonne) to haunt or frequent.

Sneb) checke.

Why standst) The speach is scorneful & very presumptuous.

Engrained) dyed in grain.

Accloieth) encombreth.

Adawed) daunted & confounded.

Trees of state) taller trees fitte for timber wood.

Sterne strife) said Chaucer .s. fell and sturdy.

O my leige) a maner of supplication, wherein is kindly coloured the affection and speache of Ambitious men.

Coronall) Garlande.

Flourets) Young blossomes.

The Primrose) The chiefe and worthiest.

Naked armes) metaphorically ment of the bare boughes, spoyled of leaues. This colourably he speaketh, as adiudging hym to the fyre.

The blood) spoken of a blocke, as it were of a living creature, figuratiuely, and (as they saye) [kat eikasmon].

Hoarie lockes) metaphorically for withered leaues.

Hent) caught.

Nould) for would not.

Ay) euermore.

Wounds) gashes.

Enaunter) least that.

The 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 Oake.

The blocke oft groned) A liuelye figure, whiche geueth sence and feeling to vnsensible creatures, as Virgile also sayeth: Saxa gemunt grauido &c.

Boreas) the Northerne wynd, that bringeth the most stormie weather.

Glee) chere and iollitie.

For 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.

Galage) 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.

RE Logotype forRenascence EditionsRenascence Editions