The Shepheardes Calender: May

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[Woodcut for May]

 Ægloga Quinta.

 A R G V M E N T.

In this [fifte] Æglogue, vnder the persons of two shepheards Piers & Palinodie, be represented two formes of pastoures or Ministers, or the protestant and the Catholique: whose chiefe talke standeth in reasoning, whether the life of the one must be like the other. with whom hauing shewed, that it is daungerous to mainteine any felowship, or giue too much credit to their colourable and feyned goodwill, he telleth him a tale of the foxe, that by such a counterpoynt of craftines deceiued and deuoured the credulous kidde.
Palinode.       Piers,
IS not thilke the mery moneth of May,
When loue lads masken in fresh aray?
How falles it then, we no merrier bene,
Ylike as others, girt in gawdy greene?
Our bloncket liueryes bene all to sadde,
For thilke same season, when all is ycladd
With pleasaunce: the grownd with grasse, the Wods
With greene leaues, the bushes with bloosming Buds.
Yougthes folke now flocken in euery where,
To gather may bus-kets and smelling brere:
And home they hasten the postes to dight,
And all the Kirke pillours eare day light,
With Hawthorne buds, and swete Eglantine,
And girlonds of roses and Sopps in wine.
Such merimake holy Saints doth queme,
But we here sytten as drownd in a dreme.
For Younkers Palinode such follies fitte,
But we tway bene men of elder witt.
Sicker this morrowe, ne lenger agoe,
I sawe a shole of shepeheardes outgoe,
With singing, and shouting, and iolly chere:
Before them yode a lusty Tabrere,
That to the many a Horne pype playd,
Whereto they dauncen eche one with his mayd.
To see those folkes make such iouysaunce,
Made my heart after the pype to daunce.
Tho to the greene Wood they speeden hem all,
To fetchen home May with their musicall:
And home they bringen in a royall throne,
Crowned as king: and his Queene attone
Was Lady Flora, on whom did attend
A fayre flock of Faeries, and a fresh bend
Of louely Nymphes. (O that I were there,
To helpen the Ladyes their Maybush beare)
Ah Piers, bene not thy teeth on edge, to thinke
How great sport they gaynen with little swinck.
Perdie so farre am I from enuie,
That their fondnesse inly I pitie.
Those faytours little regarden their charge,
While they letting their sheepe runne at large,
Passen their time, that should be sparely spent,
In lustihede and wanton meryment.
Thilke same bene shepeheards for the Deuils stedde,
That playen while their flockes be vnfedde.
Well is it seene, theyr sheepe bene not their owne,
That letten them runne at randon alone.
But they bene hyred for little pay
Of other, that caren as little as they,
What fallen the flocke, so they han the fleece,
And get all the gayne, paying but a peece.
I muse, what account both these will make,
The one for the hire, which he doth take,
And thother for leauing his Lords tas-ke,
When [great] Pan account of shepeherdes shall aske.
Sicker now I see thou speakest of spight,
All for thou lackest somedele their delight.
I (as I am) had rather be enuied,
All were it of my foe, then fonly pitied:
And yet if neede were, pitied would be,
Rather, then other should scorne at me:
For pittied is mishappe, that nas remedie,
But scorned bene dedes of [fond] foolerie.
What shoulden shepheards other things tend,
Then sith their God his good does them send,
Reapen the fruite thereof, that is pleasure,
The while they here liuen, at ease and leasure?
For when they bene dead, their good is ygoe,
They sleepen in rest, well as other moe.
Tho with them wends, what they spent in cost,
But what they left behind them, is lost.
Good is no good, but if it be spend:
God giueth good for none other end.
Ah Palinodie, thou art a worldes childe:
Who touches Pitch mought needes be defilde.
But shepheards (as Algrind vsed to say,)
Mought not liue ylike, as men of the laye:
With them it sits to care for their heire,
Enaunter their heritage doe impaire:
They must prouide for meanes of maintenaunce,
And to continue their wont countenaunce.
But shepheard must walke another way,
Sike worldly souenance he must foresay.
The sonne of his loines why should he regard
To leaue enriched with that he hath spard?
Should not thilke God, that gaue him that good,
Eke cherish his child, if in his wayes he stood?
For if he misliue in leudnes and lust,
Little bootes all the welth and the trust,
That his father left by inheritaunce:
All will be soone wasted with misgouernaunce.
But through this, and other their miscreaunce,
They maken many a wrong cheuisaunce,
Heaping vp waues of welth and woe,
The floddes whereof shall them ouerflowe.
Sike mens follie I cannot compare 
Better, then to the Apes folish care,
That is so enamoured of her young one,
(And yet God wote, such cause hath she none)
That with her hard hold, and straight embracing,
She stoppeth the breath of her youngling.
So often times, when as good is meant,
Euil ensueth of wrong entent.
  The time was once, and may againe retorne,
(For ought may happen, that hath bene beforne)
When shepeheards had none inheritaunce,
Ne of land, nor fee in sufferaunce:
But what might arise of the bare sheepe,
(Were it more or lesse) which they did keepe.
Well ywis was it with shepheards thoe:
Nought hauing, nought feared they to forgoe.
For Pan himselfe was their inheritaunce,
And little them serued for their mayntenaunce.
The [shepheards] God so wel them guided,
That of nought they were vnprouided,
Butter enough, honye, milke, and whay,
And their flockes fleeces, them to araye.
But tract of time, and long prosperitie:
That nource of vice, this of insolencie,
Lulled the shepheards in suc securitie,
That not content with loyal obeysaunce,
Some gan to gape for greedie gouernaunce,
And match them selfe with mighty potentates,
Louers of Lordship and troublers of states:
Tho gan shepheards swaines to looke a loft,
And leaue to liue hard, and learne to ligge soft:
Tho vnder colour of shepeheards, somewhile
There crept in Wolues, ful of fraude and guile,
That often deuoured their owne sheepe,
And often the shepheards, that did hem keepe.
This was the first sourse of shepheards sorowe,
That now nill be quitt with baile, nor borrowe.
Three things to beare, bene very burdenous,
But the fourth to forbeare, is outragious.
Wemen that of Loues longing once lust,
Hardly forbearen, but haue it they must:
So when choler is inflamed with rage,
Wanting reuenge, is hard to asswage:
And who can counsell a thristie soule,
With patience to forbeare the offred bowle?
But of all burdens, that a man can beare,
Moste is, a fooles talke to beare and to heare.
I wene the Geaunt has not such a weight,
That beares on his shoulders the heauens height.
Thou findest faulte, where nys to be found,
And buildest strong warke vpon a weake ground:
Thou raylest on right withouten reason,
And blamest hem much, for small encheason.
How shoulden shepheardes liue, if not so?
What? should they pynen in payne and woe?
Nay sayd I thereto, by my deare borrowe,
If I may rest, I nill liue in sorrowe.
  Sorrowe ne neede be hastened on:
For he will come without calling anone.
While times enduren of tranqullitie,
Vsen we freely our felicitie.
For when approchen the stormie stowres,
We mought with our shoulders beare of the sharpe showres.
And sooth to sayne, nought seemeth sike strife,
That shepheardes so witen ech others life,
And layen her faults the world beforne,
The while their foes done eache of hem scorne.
Let none mislike of that may not be mended:
So conteck soone by concord mought be ended.
Shepheard, I list none accordaunce make
With shepheard, that does the right way forsake.
And of the twaine, if choice were to me,
Had leuer my foe, then my freend he be.
For what concord han light and darke sam?
Or what peace has the Lion with the Lambe?
Such faitors, when their false harts bene hidde,
Will doe, as did the Foxe by the Kidde.
Now Piers, of felowship, tell vs that saying:
For the Ladde can keepe both our flocks from straying.
THilke same Kidde (as I can well deuise
Was too very foolish and vnwise.
For on a tyme in Sommer season,
The Gate her dame, that had good reason,
Yode forth abroade vnto the greene wood,
To brouze, or play, or what shee thought good.
But for she had a motherly care
Of her young sonne, and wit to beware,
Shee set her youngling before her knee,
That was both fresh and louely to see,
And full of fauour, as kidde mought be:
His Vellet head began to shoot out,
And his wreathed hornes gan newly sprout:
The blossomes of lust to bud did beginne,
And spring forth ranckly vnder his chinne.
  My sonne (quoth she) (and with that gan weepe:
For carefull thoughts in her heart did creepe)
God blesse thee poore Orphane, as he mought me,
And send thee ioy of thy iollitee.
Thy father (that word she spake with payne:
For a sigh had nigh rent her heart in twaine)
Thy father, had he liued this day,
To see the braunche of his body displaie,
How would he haue ioyed at this sweete sight?
But ah false Fortune such ioy did him spight,
And cutte of hys dayes with vntimely woe,
Betraying him into the traines of hys foe.
Now I a waylfull widdowe behight,
Of my old age haue this one delight,
To see thee succeede in thy fathers steade,
And florish in flowres of lusty head.
For euen so thy father his head vpheld,
And so his hauty hornes did he weld.
  Tho marking him with melting eyes,
A thrilling throbbe from her hart did aryse,
And interrupted all her other speache,
With some old sorowe, that made a new breache:
Seemed shee sawe in the younglings face
The old lineaments of his fathers grace.
At last her solein silence she broke,
And gan his newe budded beard to stroke.
  Kiddie (quoth shee) thou kenst the great care,
I have of thy health and thy welfare,
Which many wylde beastes liggen in waite,
For to entrap in thy tender state:
But most the Foxe, maister of collusion:
For he has voued thy last confusion.
For thy my Kiddie be ruld by mee,
And neuer giue trust to his trecheree.
And if he chaunce come, when I am abroade,
Sperre the yate fast for feare of fraude:
Ne for all his worst, nor for his best,
Open the dore at his request.
  So schooled the Gate her wanton sonne, 
That answerd his mother, all should be done.
Tho went the pensife Damme out of dore,
And chaunst to stomble at the threshold flore:
Her stombling steppe some what her amazed,
(For such, as signes of ill luck bene dispraised)
Yet forth shee yode thereat halfe aghast:
And Kiddie the dore sperred after her fast.
It was not long, after shee was gone,
But the false Foxe came to the dore anone:
Not as a Foxe, for then he had be kend,
But all as a poore pedlar he did wend,
Bearing a trusse of tryfles at hys backe,
As bells, and babes, and glasses in hys packe.
A Biggen he had got about his brayne,
For in his headpeace he felt a sore payne.
His hinder heele was wrapt in a clout,
For with great cold he had gotte the gout.
There at the dore he cast me downe hys pack,
And layd him downe, and groned, Alack, Alack.
Ah deare Lord, and sweet Saint Charitee,
That some good body woulde once pitie mee.
  Well heard Kiddie al this sore constraint,
And lenged to know the cause of his complaint:
Tho creeping close behind the Wickets clinck,
Preuelie he peeped out through a chinck:
Yet not so preuelie, but the Foxe him spyed:
For deceitfull meaning is double eyed.
  Ah good young maister (then gan he crye)
Iesus blesse that sweete face, I espye,
And keepe your corpse from the carefull stounds,
That in my carrion carcas abounds.
The Kidd pittying hys heauinesse,
Asked the cause of his great distresse,
And also who, and whence that he were.
Tho he, that had well ycond his lere,
Thus medled his talke with many a teare,
Sicke, sicke, alas, and little lack of dead,
But I be relieued by your beastlyhead.
I am a poore Sheepe, albe my coloure donne:
For with long traueile I am brent in the sonne.
And if that my Grandsire me sayd, be true,
Sicker I am very sybbe to you:
So be your goodlihead doe not disdayne
The base kinred of so simple swaine.
Of mercye and favour then I you pray,
With your ayd to forstall my neere decay.
  Tho out of his packe a glasse he tooke:
Wherein while kiddie vnwares did looke,
He was so enamoured with the newell,
That nought he deemed deare for the iewell.
Tho opened he the dore, and in came
The false Foxe, as he were starke lame.
His tayle he clapt betwixt his legs twayne,
Lest he should be descried by his trayne.
  Being within, the Kidde made him good glee,
All for the loue of the glasse he did see.
After his chere the Pedlar can chat,
And tell many lesings of this, and that:
And how he could shewe many a fine knack.
Tho shewed his ware, and opened his packe,
All saue a bell, which he left behind
In the bas-ket for the Kidde to fynd.
Which when the Kidde stooped down to catch,
He popt him in, and his bas-ket did latch,
Ne stayed he once, the dore to make fast,
But ran awaye with him in all hast.
Home when the doubtful Damme had her hyde,
She mought see the dore stand open wyde.
All aghast, lowdly she gan to call
Her Kidde: but he nould answere at all.
Tho on the flore she sawe the merchandise,
Of which her sonne had sette to dere a prise.
What helpe? her Kidde shee knewe well was gone:
Shee weeped, and wayled, and made great mone.
Such end had the Kidde, for he nould warned be
Of craft coloured with simplicitie:
And such end perdie does all hem remayne,
That of such false freendship bene fayne.
Truly Piers, thou art beside thy wit,
Furthest fro the marke, weening it to hit.
Now I pray thee, lette me thy tale borrowe
For our sir Iohn, to say to morrowe
At the Kerke, when it is holliday:
For well he meanes, but little can say.
But and if Foxes bene so crafty, as so,
Much needeth all shepheards hem to know.
Of their falshode more could I recount.
But now the bright Sunne gynneth to dismount:
And for the deawie night now doth nye,
I hold it best for vs, home to hye.
Palinodes Embleme.

[Pas men apiotos apistei]

Piers his Embleme.

[Tis d' ara piotis apisto]


Thilke) this same moneth. It is applyed to the season of the moneth, when all menne delight them selues with pleasaunce of fieldes, and gardens, and garments.

Bloncket liueries) gray coates.

Yclad) arrayed, Y, redoundeth, as before.

In euery where) a straunge, yet proper kind of speaking.

Buskets) a Diminutiue .s. little bushes of hauthorne.

Kirke) church.

Queme) please.

A shole) a multitude; taken of fishe, whereof some going in great companies, are sayde to swimme in a shole.

Yode) went.

Iouyssance) ioye.

Swinck) labour.

Inly) entirely

Faytours) vagabonds.

Great pan) is Christ, the very God of all the shepheards, which calleth himselfe the greate and good shepherd. The name is most rightly (me thinkes) applyed to him, for Pan signifieth all or omnipotent, which is onely the Lord Iesus. And by that name (as I remember) he is called of Eusebius in his fifte booke de Preparat. Euang; who thereof telleth a proper storye to that purpose. Which story is first recorded of Plutarch, in his booke of the ceasing of oracles, & of Lauetere translated, in his booke of walking sprightes. Who sayth, that about the same time, that our Lord suffered his most bitter passion for the redemtion of man, certein passengers sayling from Italy to Cyprus and passing by certein Iles called Paxae, heard a voyce calling alowde Thamus, Thamus, (now Thamus was the name of an Ægyptian, which was Pilote of the ship,) who giuing eare to the cry, was bidden, when he came to Palodes, to tel, that the great Pan was dead: which he doubting to doe, yet for that he came to Palodes, there sodeinly was such a calm of winde, that the shippe stoode still in the sea vnmoued, he was forced to cry alowd, that Pan was dead: wherewithall there was heard suche piteous outcryes and dreadfull shriking, as hath not bene the like. By whych Pan, though of some be vnderstoode the great Satanas, whose kingdome at that time was by Christ conquered, the gates of hell broken vp, and death by death deliuered to eternall death, (for at that time,as he sayth, all Oracles surceased, and enchaunted spirits, that were wont to delude the people, thenceforth held theyr peace) & also at the demaund of the Emperoure Tiberius, who that Pan should be, answere was made him by the wisest and best learned, that it was the son of Mercurie and Penelope, yet I think it more properly meant of the death of Christ, the onely and very Pan, then suffereing for his flock.

I as I am) seemeth to imitate the commen prouerb, Malim Inuidere mihi omnes quam miserescere.

Nas) is a syncope, for ne has, or has not,: as nould, for would not.

Tho with them) doth imitate the Epitaphe of the ryotous king Sardanapalus, whych caused to be written on his tombe in Greeke: which verses be thus translated by Tullie: 

" Haec habui quae edi, quaeque exaturata libido
" Hausit, at illa manent multa ac praeclara relicta.
which may thus be turned into English.
" All that I eate did I ioye, and all that I greedily gorged:
" As for those many goodly matters left I for others.
Much like the Epitaph of a good olde Erle of Deuonshire, which though much more wisedome bewraieth, then Sardanapalus, yet hath a smacke of his sensuall delights and beastlinesse. The rymes be these. 
" Ho, Ho, who lies here?
" I the good Erle of Deuonshere,
" And Maulde my wife, that was full deare,
" We liued together lv. yeare.
" That we spent, we had:
" That we gaue, we haue:
" That we lefte, we lost.
Algrind) the name of a shepheard.

Men of the Lay) Lay men. 

Enaunter) least that.

Souenaunce) remembraunce.

Miscreaunce) despaire or misbeliefe. Cheuisaunce. sometime of Chaucer vsed for gaine: sometime of other for spoyle, or bootie, or enterprise, and sometime for chiefdome.

Pan himselfe) God. According as is sayd in Deuteronomie, That in diuision of the lande of Canaan, to the tribe of Leuie no portion of heritage should bee allotted for GOD himselfe was their inheritaunce.

Some gan) meant of the Pope, and his Antichristian prelates, which vsurpe a tyrannical dominion in the Churche, and with Peters counterfet keyes, open a wide gate to al wickednesse and insolent gouernment. Nought here spoken as of purpose to deny fatherly rule and godly gouernaunce ( as some malitiously of late haue done to the great vnreste and hinderaunce of the the Churche) but to displaye the pride and disorder of such, as in steede of feeding their sheepe, indeede feede of theyr sheepe.

Sourse) welspring and originall.

Borrowe) pledge or suretie.

The Geaunte) is the greate Atlas, whom the poetes feign to be a huge geaunt, that beareth Heauen on his shoulders: being in deede a merueilous highe mountaine in Mauritania, that now is Barbarie, which to mans seeming perceth the cloudes, and seemeth to touch the heauens. Other thinke, and they not amisse, that this fable was meant of one Atlas king of the same countrye, (of whome may bee, that that hil had his denomination) brother to Prometheus who (as the Grekes say) did first fynd out the hidden courses of the starres, by an excellent imagination. Wherefore the poetes feigned, that he susteyned the firmament on his shoulders. Many other coniectures needlesse be told hereof.

Warke) worke.

Encheason) cause, occasion.

Deare borow) That is our sauiour, the commen pledge of all mens debts to death.

Wyten) blame.

Nought seemeth) is vnseemely.

Conteck) strife contention.

Her) theyr, as vseth Chaucer.

Han) for haue.

Sam) together.

 This tale is much like to that in Æsops fables, but the Catastrophe and end is farre different. By the Kidde may be vnderstoode the simple sorte of the faythfull and true Christians. By hys dame Christe, that hath alreadie with carefull watchewords (as heere doth the gote) warned his little ones, to beware of such doubling deceit. By the Foxe, the false and faithlesse Papistes, to whom is no credit to be giuen, nor felowshippe to be vsed.

The gate) the Gote: Northernly spoken to turne O into A.

Yode) went. Afforesayd

She set) A figure called Fictio which vseth to attribute reasonable actions and speaches to vnreasonable creatures.

The bloosmes of lust) be the young and mossie heares, which then beginne to sproute and shoote foorth, when lustfull heate beginneth to kindle.

And with) A very Poeticall [pathos].

Orphane) A youngling or pupill, that needeth a Tutour and gouernour.

That word) A patheticall parenthesis, to encrease a carefull Hyperbaton.

The braunch) of the fathers body, is the child.

For euen so) Alluded to the saying of Andromache to Ascanius in Virgile. 

Sic oculos, sic ille manus, sic ora ferebat.
A thrilling throb) a percing sighe.

Liggen) lye.

Maister of collusion) .s. coloured guile, because the Foxe of al beasts is most wily and crafty.

Sperre the yate) shut the dore.

For such) The gotes stombling is here noted as an euill signe. The like to be marked in all histories: and that not the leaste of the Lord Hastingues in King Rycharde the third his dayes. For beside his daungerous dreame (whiche was a shrewde prophecie of his mishap, that folowed) it is sayd that in the morning ryding toward the tower of London, there to sitte vppon matters of counsell, his horse stombled twise or thrise by the way: which of some, that ryding with hym in his company, were priuie to his neere destenie, was secretly marked, and afterward noted for memorie of his great mishap, that ensewed. For being then as merye, as man might be, and least doubting any mortall daunger, he was within two howres after, of the Tyranne put to a shamefull death.

As belles) by such trifles are noted, the reliques and ragges of popish superstition, which put no smal religion in Belles: and Babies .s. Idoles: and glasses .s. Paxes, and such lyke trumperies.

Great cold.) For they boast much of their outward patience, and voluntarye sufferaunce as a worke of merit and holy humblenesse.

Sweete S. Charitie.[)] The Catholiques comen othe, and onely speache, to haue charitye alwayes in their mouth, and sometime in their outward Actions, but neuer inwardly in fayth and godly zeale.

Clincke.) a key hole. Whose diminutiue is clicket, vsed of Chaucer for a key.

Stoundes) fittes: aforesayde.

His lere) his lesson.

Medled) mingled.

Bestlihead.) agreeing to the person of a beast.

Sibbe.) of kynne.

Newell) a newe thing.

To forestall) to praeuent.

Glee) chere, afforesayde.

Deare a price.) his lyfe, which he lost for those toyes.

Such ende) is an Epiphonema, or rather the morall of the whole tale, whose purpose is to warne the protestant beware, howe he geueth credit to the vnfaythfull Catholique: whereof we haue dayly proofes sufficient, but one moste famous of all, practised of Late yeares in Fraunce by Charles the nynth.

Fayne) gladde or desyrous.

Our sir Iohn) a Popishe priest. A saying fit for the grosenesse of a shepheard, but spoken to taunte vnlearned Priests.

Dismount) descende or set.

Nye) draweth nere.


Both these Emblemes make one whole Hexametre. The first spoken of Palinodie, as in reproche of them, that be distrustfull, is a peece of Theognis verse, intending, that who doth most mistrust is most false. For such experience in falsehod breedeth mistrust in the mynd, thinking no lesse guile to lurk in others, then in hymselfe. But Piers thereto strongly replyeth with another peece of the same verse, saying as in his former fable, what fayth then is there in the faythlesse. For if fayth be the ground of religion, which fayth they dayly false, what hold then is there of theyr religion. And thys is all that they saye.

Go on to June.

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