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

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SHEPHEARDES CALENDER: JANUARY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A shepheards boye (no better doe him call)
Last Line: Whose hanging heads did seeme his carefull case to weepe.
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin
Subject(s): January; Love - Complaints; Winter


A SHEPEHEARDS boye (no better doe him call)
When winters wastful spight was almost spent,
All in a sunneshine day, as did befall,
Led forth his flock, that had bene long ypent.
So faynt they woxe, and feeble in the folde,
That now unnethes their feete could them uphold.

All as the sheepe, such was the shepeheards looke,
For pale and wanne he was, (alas the while!)
May seeme he lovd, or els some care he tooke:
Well couth he tune his pipe, and frame his stile.
Tho to a hill his faynting flocke he ledde,
And thus him playnd, the while his shepe there fedde.

'Ye gods of love, that pitie lovers payne,
(If any gods the paine of lovers pitie,)
Looke from above, where you in joyes remaine,
And bowe your eares unto my dolefull dittie.
And Pan, thou shepheards god, that once didst love,
Pitie the paines that thou thy selfe didst prove.

'Thou barrein ground, whome winters wrath hath wasted,
Art made a myrrhour to behold my plight:
Whilome thy fresh spring flowrd, and after hasted
Thy sommer prowde with daffadillies dight,
And now is come thy wynters stormy state,
Thy mantle mard wherein thou maskedst late.

'Such rage as winters reigneth in my heart,
My life bloud friesing with unkindly cold:
Such stormy stoures do breede my balefull smart,
As if my yeare were wast and woxen old.
And yet, alas! but now my spring begonne,
And yet, alas! yt is already donne.

'You naked trees, whose shady leaves are lost,
Wherein the byrds were wont to build their bowre,
And now are clothd with mosse and hoary frost,
Instede of bloosmes, wherwith your buds did flowre:
I see your teares, that from your boughes doe raine,
Whose drops in drery ysicles remaine.

'All so my lustfull leafe is drye and sere,
My timely buds with wayling all are wasted;
The blossome which my braunch of youth did beare
With breathed sighes is blowne away and blasted;
And from mine eyes the drizling teares descend,
As on your boughes the ysicles depend.

'Thou feeble flocke, whose fleece is rough and rent,
Whose knees are weake through fast and evill fare,
Mayst witnesse well by thy ill governement,
Thy maysters mind is overcome with care.
Thou weake, I wanne; thou leane, I quite forlorne:
With mourning pyne I; you with pyning mourne.

'A thousand sithes I curse that carefull hower
Wherein I longd the neighbour towne to see:
And eke tenne thousand sithes I blesse the stoure
Wherein I sawe so fayre a sight as shee.
Yet all for naught: such sight hath bred my bane.
Ah, God! that love should breede both joy and payne!

'It is not Hobbinol wherefore I plaine,
Albee my love he seeke with dayly suit:
His clownish gifts and curtsies I disdaine,
His kiddes, his cracknelles, and his early fruit.
Ah, foolish Hobbinol! thy gyfts bene vayne:
Colin them gives to Rosalind againe.

'I love thilke lasse, (alas! why doe I love?)
And am forlorne, (alas! why am I lorne?)
Shee deignes not my good will, but doth reprove,
And of my rurall musick holdeth scorne.
Shepheards devise she hateth as the snake,
And laughes the songes that Colin Clout doth make.

'Wherefore, my pype, albee rude Pan thou please,
Yet for thou pleasest not where most I would:
And thou, unlucky Muse, that wontst to ease
My musing mynd, yet canst not, when thou should:
Both pype and Muse shall sore the while abye.'
So broke his oaten pype, and downe dyd lye.

By that, the welked Phoebus gan availe
His weary waine, and nowe the frosty Night
Her mantle black through heaven gan overhaile.
Which seene, the pensife boy, halfe in despight,
Arose, and homeward drove his sonned sheepe,
Whose hanging heads did seeme his carefull case to weepe.

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