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



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THE SHEPHEARDES CALENDER: FEBRUARY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ah for pittie! Wil rancke winters rage
Last Line: Hye thee home, shepheard, the day is nigh wasted.
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin
Subject(s): February; Old Age


CUDDIE. THENOT.

Cud. Ah for pittie! wil rancke winters rage
These bitter blasts never ginne tasswage?
The kene cold blowes through 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 avales.
The. 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 unto that is worst of all,
And then returne to his former fall?
Who will not suffer the stormy time,
Where will he live tyll the lusty prime?
Selfe have I worne out thrise threttie yeares,
Some in much joy, many in many teares;
Yet never complained of cold nor heate,
Of sommers flame, nor of winters threat;
Ne ever was to fortune foeman,
But gently tooke that ungently came:
And ever my flocke was my chiefe care;
Winter or sommer they mought well fare.
Cud. No marveile, Thenot, if thou can 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 unwont in stormes to be tost.
The. The soveraigne of seas he blames in vaine,
That, once seabeate, will to sea againe.
So loytring live 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 scorne,
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 surquedrie,
With weeping, and wayling, and misery.
Cud. Ah, foolish old man! I scorne thy skill,
That wouldest me my springing youngth 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 braunch 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 love,
And hery with hymnes thy lasses glove:
Tho wouldest thou pype of Phyllis prayse:
But Phyllis is myne for many dayes:
I wonne her with a gyrdle of gelt,
Embost with buegle about the belt:
Such an one shepeheards woulde make full faine,
Such an one would make thee younge againe.
The. Thou art a fon, of thy love to boste;
All that is lent to love wyll be lost.
Cud. 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 love is not his mynd?
Seemeth thy flocke 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 have blowen bags,
Like wailefull widdowes hangen their crags:
The rather lambes bene starved with cold,
All for their maister is lustlesse and old.
The. Cuddie, I wote thou kenst little good,
So vainely tadvaunce thy headlessehood.
For youngth is a bubble blown up with breath,
Whose witt is weakenesse, whose wage is death,
Whose way is wildernesse, whose ynne penaunce,
And stoopegallaunt age, the hoste of greevaunce.
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?
Cud. To nought more, Thenot, my mind is bent,
Then to heare novells of his devise:
They bene so well thewed, and so wise,
What ever that good old man bespake.
The. Many meete tales of youth did he make,
And some of love, and some of chevalrie:
But none fitter then 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 leaves they were disarayde:
The bodie bigge, and mightely 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, and wasted with wormes,
His honor decayed, his braunches sere.
Hard by his side grewe 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 their girlonds with his colowres:
And in his small bushes used 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 serves 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 round.
The mouldie mosse, which thee accloieth,
My sinamon smell too much annoieth.
Wherefore soone, I rede thee, hence remove,
Least thou the price of my displeasure prove.'
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 overawed.
Yt chaunced after upon a day,
The husbandman selfe to come that way,
Of custome for to survewe his grownd,
And his trees of state in compasse rownd.
Him when the spitefull Brere had espyed,
Causlesse complained, and lowdly cryed
Unto his lord, stirring up 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 usen ambitious folke)
His colowred crime with craft to cloke.
'Ah my soveraigne, 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 unto the fyre,
Unto such tyrannie doth aspire;
Hindering with his shade my lovely 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:
Untimely my flowres forced to fall,
That bene the honor of your coronall.
And oft he lets his cancker wormes light
Upon 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,
Craving 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 greevance.'
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 halfe unwilling 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 goodman at him did laye.
The blocke oft groned under the blow,
And sighed to see his neare overthrow.
In fine, the steele had pierced his pitth:
Tho downe to the earth he fell forthwith:
His wonderous weight made the grounde to quake,
Thearth shronke under him, and seemed to shake.
There lyeth the Oake, pitied of none.
Now stands the Brere like a lord alone,
Puffed up 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 upon 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 upright 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 --
Cud. Now I pray thee, shepheard, tel it not forth:
Here is a long tale, and little worth.
So longe have I listened to thy speche,
That graffed to the ground is my breche:
My hartblood is welnight 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.





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