Edmund Spenser (1552?1599). The Complete Poetical Works. 1908.
The Shepheardes Calender
IN this fyrst Æglogue Colin Cloute, a shepheardes boy, complaineth him of his unfortunate love, being but newly (as semeth) enamoured of a countrie lasse called Rosalinde: with which strong affection being very sore traveled, he compareth his carefull case to the sadde season of the yeare, to the frostie ground, to the frosen trees, and to his owne winter-beaten flocke. And lastlye, fynding himselfe robbed of all former pleasaunce and delights, hee breaketh his pipe in peeces, and casteth him selfe to the ground.
Whose hanging heads did seeme his carefull case to weepe.
Colin Cloute is a name not greatly used, and yet have I sene a poesie of Maister Skeltons under that title. But indeede the word Colin is Frenche, and used of the French poete Marot (if he be worthy of the name of a poete) in a certein æglogue. Under which name this poete secretly shadoweth himself, as sometime did Virgil under the name of Tityrus, thinking it much fitter then such Latine names, for the great unlikelyhoode of the language. Unnethes, scarcely. Couthe commeth of the verbe Conne, that is, to know or to have skill. As well interpreteth the same the worthy Sir Tho. Smitth, in his booke of government: wherof I have a perfect copie in wryting, lent me by his kinseman, and my verye singular good freend, Maister Gabriel Harvey: as also of some other his most grave and excellent wrytings. Sythe, time. Neighbour towne, the next towne: expressing the Latine vicina. Stoure, a fitt. Sere, withered. His clownish gyfts imitateth Virgils verse,
Rusticus es Corydon, nec munera curat Alexis.
Hobbinol is a fained country name, whereby, it being so commune and usuall, seemeth to be hidden the person of some his very speciall and most familiar freend, whom he entirely and extraordinarily beloved, as peradventure shall be more largely declared hereafter. In thys place seemeth to be some savour of disorderly love, which the learned call pæderastice: but it is gathered beside his meaning. For who that hath red Plato his dialogue called Alcybiades, Xenophon, and Maximus Tyrius, of Socrates opinions, may easily perceive that such love is muche to be alowed and liked of, specially so meant as Socrates used it: who sayth, that in deede he loved Alcybiades extremely, yet not Alcybiades person, but hys soule, which is Alcybiades owne selfe. And so is pæderastice much to be præferred before gynerastice, that is, the love whiche enflameth men with lust toward womankind. But yet let no man thinke, that herein I stand with Lucian, or his develish disciple Unico Aretino, in defence of execrable and horrible sinnes of forbidden and unlawful fleshlinesse. Whose abominable errour is fully confuted of Perionius, and others. I love, a prety epanorthosis in these two verses, and withall a paronomasia or playing with the word, where he sayth, I love thilke lasse (alas, &c. Rosalinde is also a feigned name, which, being wel ordered, wil bewray the very name of hys love and mistresse, whom by that name he coloureth. So as Ovide shadoweth hys love under the name of Corynna, which of some is supposed to be Julia, themperor Augustus his daughter, and wyfe to Agryppa. So doth Aruntius Stella every where call his lady Asteris and Ianthis, albe it is wel knowen that her right name was Violantilla: as witnesseth Statius in his Epithalamium. And so the famous paragone of Italy, Madonna Clia, in her letters envelopeth her selfe under the name of Zima: and Petrona under the name of Bellochia. And this generally hath bene a common custome of counterfeicting the names of secret personages. Avail, bring downe. Overhaile, drawe over.
His Embleme or poesye is here under added in Italian, Anchôra speme: the meaning wherof is, that notwithstandeing his extreme passion and lucklesse love, yet, leaning on hope, he is some what recomforted.