Page images






THAT you may see that I am not alwaies ydle as yeo thinke, though not greatly well occupied, nor altogither undutifull, though not precisely officious, I make you present of this simple Pastorall, unworthie of your higher conceipt for the meanesse of the stile, but agreeing with the truth in circumstance and matter. The which I humbly beseech you to accept in part of paiment of the infinite debt, in which I acknowledge my selfe bounden unto you for your singular favours, and sundrie good turnes, shewed to me at my late being in England; and with your good countenance protect against the malice of evil mouthes, which are alwaies wide open to carpe at and misconstrue my simple meaning. I pray continually for your happinesse. From my house of Kilcolman, the 27. of December.

1591. [rather perhaps 1595.]

Yours ever humbly,




THE shepheards boy (best knowen by that name)

That after Tityrus first sung his lay,

Laies of sweet love, without rebuke or blame,
Sate (as his custome was) upon a day,

Charming his oaten pipe unto his peres,

The shepheard swaines that did about him play:
Who all the while, with greedie listfull eares,
Did stand astonisht at his curious skill,

Like hartlesse deare, dismayd with thunders sound.
At last, when as he piped had his fill,

He rested him: and, sitting then around,
One of those groomes (a iolly groome was he,

Charming, tuning.

Ver. 2. Tityrus.] Chaucer.



"In the year 1595, Spenser published Colin Clouts come Home againe, a sort of pastoral, giving an account of his return to England, of his presentation to Queen Elizabeth, and of several persons attached to the court. It might be highly interesting at the time it was written, but its chief interest is now lost. It possesses nothing striking, either in character or description, to attract a modern reader."— Retrospective Review.

As ever piped on an oaten reed,
And lov'd this shepheard dearest in degree,
Hight Hobbinol;) gan thus to him areed.

"Colin, my liefe,2 my life, how great a losse
Had all the shepheards nation by thy lacke!
And I, poore swaine, of many, greatest crosse !
That, sith thy Muse first since thy turning backe
Was heard to sound as she was wont on hye,
Hast made us all so blessed and so blythe.
Whilest thou wast hence, all dead in dole did lie:
The woods were heard to waile full many a sythe,5
And all their birds with silence to complaine:
The fields with faded flowers did seem to mourne,
And all their flocks from feeding to refraine :
The running waters wept for thy returne,
And all their fish with languor did lament :
But now both woods and fields and floods revive,
Sith 3 thou art come, their cause of merriment,
That us, late dead, hast made againe alive:
But were it not too painefull to repeat
The passed fortunes, which to thee befell
In thy late voyage, we thee would entreat,
Now at thy leisure them to us to tell."

To whom the shepheard gently answered thus ; "Hobbin, thou temptest me to that I covet:

For of good passed newly to discus,

By dubble usurie doth twise renew it.
And since I saw that angels blessed eie,
Her worlds bright sun, her heavens fairest light,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

1 Hight, called.

* Liefe, dear.

3 Sith, since.
4 Dole, grief.

5 Sythe, time.

Ver. 15.- Hobbinol.] This is Spenser's friend, Gabriel Harvey.

My mind, full of my thoughts satietie,
Doth feed on sweet contentment of that sight:
Since that same day in nought I take delight,
Ne feeling have in any earthly pleasure,
But in remembrance of that glory bright,
My lifes sole blisse, my hearts eternall threasure.
Wake then, my pipe; my sleepie Muse, awake;
Till I have told her praises lasting long:
Hobbin desires, thou maist it not forsake;
Harke then, ye iolly shepheards, to my song."
With that they all gan throng about him neare,
With hungrie eares to heare his harmonie:
The whiles their flocks, devoyd of dangers feare,
Did round about them feed at libertie.

[ocr errors]

"One day (quoth he) I sat (as was my trade)
Under the foote of Mole, that mountaine hore,
Keeping my sheepe amongst the cooly shade
Of the greene alders by the Mullaes shore:
There a straunge shepheard chaunst to find me out,
Whether allured with my pipes delight,
Whose pleasing sound yshrilled1 far about,
Or thither led by chaunce, I know not right:
Whom when I asked from what place he came,
And how he hight, himselfe he did ycleepe3
The Shepheard of the Ocean by name,

1 Yshrilled, sounded shrill.

[ocr errors]

3 Ycleepe, call.

[blocks in formation]






Ver. 59. By the Mullaes shore.] "The Mulla is the river Aubeg, which runs not far from Kilcolman, Spenser's residence, and washes Buttevant, Doneraile, Castletown-Roch, &c."-TODD.

Ver. 66. The Shepheard of the Ocean.] This is Sir Walter Raleigh, whom Spenser accompanied into England, and by whom he was introduced to Queen Elizabeth.

[blocks in formation]

And said he came far from the main-sea deepe.
He, sitting me beside in that same shade,
Provoked me to plaie some pleasant fit1;
And, when he heard the musicke which I made,
He found himselfe full greatly pleasd at it:
Yet, æmuling my pipe, he tooke in hond
My pipe, before that æmuled of many,

And plaid thereon; (for well that skill he cond3;)
Himselfe as skilfull in that art as any.

He pip'd, I sung; and, when he sung, I piped;
By chaunge of turnes, each making other mery;
Neither envying other, nor envied,

So piped we, untill we both were weary."

There interrupting him, a bonie swaine,
That Cuddy hight, him thus atweene bespake:
"And, should it not thy readie course restraine,
I would request thee, Colin, for my sake,

To tell what thou didst sing, when he did plaie;
For well I weene it worth recounting was,
Whether it were some hymne, or morall laie,
Or carol made to praise thy loved lasse."

"Nor of my love, nor of my lasse, (quoth he,)

I then did sing, as then occasion fell:

For love had me forlorne, forlorne of me,
That made me in that desart choose to dwell.
But of my river Bregogs love I soong,
Which to the shiny Mulla he did beare,
And yet doth beare, and ever will, so long
As water doth within his bancks appeare.'
"Of fellowship (said then that bony Boy)
Record to us that lovely lay againe :

1 Fit, strain.

2 Emuling, rivalling.

[ocr errors]

3 Cond, knew.

4 Hight, was called.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »