Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SHEPHEARDES CALENDER: DECEMBER, by EDMUND SPENSER



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THE SHEPHEARDES CALENDER: DECEMBER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The gentle shepheard satte beside a springe
Last Line: Tell rosalind her colin bids her adieu.'
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin
Subject(s): Aging; December; Seasons; Winter


THE gentle shepheard satte beside a springe,
All in the shadowe of a bushye brere,
That Colin hight, which wel could pype and singe,
For he of Tityrus his songs did lere.
There as he satte in secreate shade alone,
Thus gan he make of love his piteous mone.

'O soveraigne Pan, thou god of shepheards all,
Which of our tender lambkins takest keepe,
And when our flocks into mischaunce mought fall,
Doest save from mischiefe the unwary sheepe,
Als of their maisters hast no lesse regard
Then of the flocks, which thou doest watch and ward:

'I thee beseche (so be thou deigne to heare
Rude ditties, tund to shepheards oaten reede,
Or if I ever sonet song so cleare
As it with pleasaunce mought thy fancie feede)
Hearken awhile, from thy greene cabinet,
The rurall song of carefull Colinet.

'Whilome in youth, when flowrd my joyfull spring,
Like swallow swift I wandred here and there:
For heate of heedlesse lust me so did sting,
That I of doubted daunger had no feare.
I went the wastefull woodes and forest wyde,
Withouten dreade of wolves to bene espyed.

'I wont to raunge amydde the mazie thickette,
And gather nuttes to make me Christmas game;
And joyed oft to chace the trembling pricket,
Or hunt the hartlesse hare til shee were tame.
What recked I of wintrye ages waste?
Tho deemed I, my spring would ever laste.

'How often have I scaled the craggie oke,
All to dislodge the raven of her nest!
Howe have I wearied, with many a stroke,
The stately walnut tree, the while the rest
Under the tree fell all for nuts at strife!
For ylike to me was libertee and lyfe.

'And for I was in thilke same looser yeares,
(Whether the Muse so wrought me from my birth,
Or I to much beleeved my shepherd peres,)
Somedele ybent to song and musicks mirth,
A good olde shephearde, Wrenock was his name,
Made me by arte more cunning in the same.

'Fro thence I durst in derring doe compare
With shepheards swayne what ever fedde in field:
And if that Hobbinol right judgement bare,
To Pan his owne selfe pype I neede not yield:
For if the flocking nymphes did folow Pan,
The wiser Muses after Colin ranne.

'But ah! such pryde at length was ill repayde:
The shepheards god (perdie, god was he none)
My hurtlesse pleasaunce did me ill upbraide;
My freedome lorne, my life he lefte to mone.
Love they him called that gave me checkmate,
But better mought they have behote him Hate.

'Tho gan my lovely spring bid me farewel,
And sommer season sped him to display
(For Love then in the Lyons house did dwell)
The raging fyre that kindled at his ray.
A comett stird up that unkindly heate,
That reigned (as men sayd) in Venus seate.

'Forth was I ledde, not as I wont afore,
When choise I had to choose my wandring waye,
But whether Luck and Loves unbridled lore
Would leade me forth on Fancies bitte to playe.
The bush my bedde, the bramble was my bowre,
The woodes can witnesse many a wofull stowre.

'Where I was wont to seeke the honey bee,
Working her formall rowmes in wexen frame,
The grieslie todestoole growne there mought I se,
And loathed paddocks lording on the same:
And where the chaunting birds luld me a sleepe,
The ghastlie owle her grievous ynne doth keepe.

'Then as the springe gives place to elder time,
And bringeth forth the fruite of sommers pryde,
Also my age, now passed youngthly pryme,
To thinges of ryper reason selfe applyed,
And learnd of lighter timber cotes to frame,
Such as might save my sheepe and me fro shame.

'To make fine cages for the nightingale,
And baskets of bulrushes, was my wont:
Who to entrappe the fish in winding sale
Was better seene, or hurtful beastes to hont?
I learned als the signes of heaven to ken,
How Phoebe fayles, where Venus sittes and when.

'And tryed time yet taught me greater thinges:
The sodain rysing of the raging seas,
The soothe of byrds by beating of their wings,
The power of herbs, both which can hurt and ease,
And which be wont tenrage the restlesse sheepe,
And which be wont to worke eternall sleepe.

'But ah, unwise and witlesse Colin Cloute!
That kydst the hidden kinds of many a wede,
Yet kydst not ene to cure thy sore hart roote,
Whose ranckling wound as yet does rifelye bleede!
Why livest thou stil, and yet hast thy deathes wound?
Why dyest thou stil, and yet alive art founde?

'Thus is my sommer worne away and wasted,
Thus is my harvest hastened all to rathe:
The eare that budded faire is burnt and blasted,
And all my hoped gaine is turnd to scathe.
Of all the seede that in my youth was sowne,
Was nought but brakes and brambles to be mowne.

'My boughes with bloosmes that crowned were at firste,
And promised of timely fruite such store,
Are left both bare and barrein now at erst:
The flattring fruite is fallen to grownd before,
And rotted ere they were halfe mellow ripe:
My harvest, wast, my hope away dyd wipe.

'The fragrant flowres that in my garden grewe
Bene withered, as they had bene gathered long:
Theyr rootes bene dryed up for lacke of dewe,
Yet dewed with teares they han be ever among.
Ah! who has wrought my Rosalind this spight,
To spil the flowres that should her girlond dight?

'And I, that whilome wont to frame my pype
Unto the shifting of the shepheards foote,
Sike follies nowe have gathered as too ripe,
And cast hem out as rotten and unsoote.
The loser lasse I cast to please nomore:
One if I please, enough is me therefore.

'And thus of all my harvest hope I have
Nought reaped but a weedye crop of care:
Which, when I thought have thresht in swelling sheave,
Cockel for corne, and chaffe for barley, bare.
Soone as the chaffe should in the fan be fynd,
All was blowne away of the wavering wynd.

'So now my yeare drawes to his latter terme,
My spring is spent, my sommer burnt up quite,
My harveste hasts to stirre up Winter sterne,
And bids him clayme with rigorous rage hys right:
So nowe he stormes with many a sturdy stoure,
So now his blustring blast eche coste doth scoure.

'The carefull cold hath nypt my rugged rynde,
And in my face deepe furrowes eld hath pight:
My head besprent with hoary frost I fynd,
And by myne eie the crow his clawe dooth wright.
Delight is layd abedde, and pleasure past;
No sonne now shines, cloudes han all overcast.

'Now leave, ye shepheards boyes, your merry glee;
My Muse is hoarse and weary of thys stounde:
Here will I hang my pype upon this tree;
Was never pype of reede did better sounde.
Winter is come, that blowes the bitter blaste,
And after winter dreerie death does hast.

'Gather ye together, my little flocke,
My little flock, that was to me so liefe:
Let me, ah! lette me in your folds ye lock,
Ere the breme winter breede you greater griefe.
Winter is come, that blowes the balefull breath,
And after winter commeth timely death.

'Adieu, delightes, that lulled me asleepe;
Adieu, my deare, whose love I bought so deare;
Adieu, my little lambes and loved sheepe;
Adieu, ye woodes, that oft my witnesse were;
Adieu, good Hobbinol, that was so true:
Tell Rosalind her Colin bids her adieu.'





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