The Shepheardes Calender: May

Edmund Spenser 1552 (London) – 1599 (London)



May: AEgloga Quinta. Palinode & Piers.

Palinode.
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.

PIERS.
For Younkers Palinode such follies fitte,
But we tway bene men of elder witt.

PALINODE.
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.

PIERS.
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.

PALINODE.
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.

PIERS.
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
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 15, 2023

3:53 min read
54

Quick analysis:

Scheme a Bcdexbbaxddbbffcc Abb Bggddbbaahhiebbddgg Aebjjbbbbeiccxagggg Bbbbbkkbdbbddglbbbb Abbccddaacabbbbbbaaaalxddmmggb
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,322
Words 776
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 1, 17, 3, 19, 19, 19, 30

Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. more…

All Edmund Spenser poems | Edmund Spenser Books

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