Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Extracts from The Shepheard’s Calender: Description of Maying
By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 
[May.]

  Palinode.  Is not thilke the mery moneth of May,
When love-lads masken in fresh aray?
How falles it, then, we no merrier bene,
Ylike as others, girt in gawdy greene?
Our bloncket liveryes 1 bene all to sadde        5
For thilke same season, when all is ycladd
With pleasaunce: the grownd with grasse, the Woods
With greene leaves, the bushes with bloosming buds.
Yougthes folke now flocken in every where,
To gather May bus-kets 2 and smelling brere:        10
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, 3        15
But we here sitten as drownd in a dreme.
  Piers.  For Younkers, Palinode, such follies fitte,
But we tway bene men of elder witt.
  Pal.  Sicker this morrowe, no lenger agoe,
I sawe a shole of shepeheardes outgoe        20
With singing, and shouting, and jolly chere:
Before them yode 4 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 jovysaunce,        25
Made my heart after the pype to daunce:
Tho to the greere Wood they speeden hem all,
To fetchen home May with their musicall:
And heme they bringen in a royall throne,
Crowned as king: and his Queene attone        30
Was Lady Flora, on whom did attend
A fayre flocke of Faeries, and a fresh bend
Of lovely Nymphs. (O that I were there,
To helpen the Ladyes their Maybush beare!)
Ah! Piers, bene not thy teeth on edge, to thinke        35
How great sport they gaynen with little swinck?
 
Note 1. gray coats. [back]
Note 2. bushes. [back]
Note 3. please. [back]
Note 4. went. [back]
 
 
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