Spenser's The Shepeardes Calendar

English 514, Dr. Fike


"The general argument of the whole booke":

  1. Eclogue
  2. Three types of eclogues
    1. Plaintive:  January, June, November, December
    2. Recreative:  March, April, August
    3. Moral:  February, May, July, September, October
    4. Categories can overlap.
  3. Reason for starting with January


The main points in E.K.’s "Dedicatory Epistle":

  1. Chaucer:  "well of English undefiled" ("June" 93-94);  "So the poet, consciously breaking new ground in his own time, takes care that the classical and English springs of his art shall not be neglected…" (543).
  2. Pastoral poetry, related to love on pages 504-5
  3. “gallimaufray  or hodgepodge”
  4. Colin = Spenser
  5. Shape of a poet’s career; cf. page 527
  6. Title:  not just pastoral poetry but also a calendar with illustrations:  new features


What does “pastoral” mean?

  1. Setting:  Arcadia                                   4.  A complete life
  2. City and country                                   5.  Pan vs. Jesus::nature vs. supernature
  3. The Fall


Whom do the characters represent?

  1. Colin Clout                                           4.  Rosalinde
  2. Hobbinol                                              5.  Point about allegory
  3. E.K.


Discussion of the “October” eclogue:

  1. Central problem                                    6.  Bad poetry
  2. Futility                                                  7.  Poetry and the golden age
  3. Poetry’s value                                       8.  Poet-love theme
  4. Epic poetry                                           9.  Final point
  5. Decline in poetry and in men


Connections to Sidney's Defense of Poetry

  1. Enthousiasmos
  2. Poetry's purposes
  3. Poetry's ability to make a golden world
  4. Poetry and the Fall


Rejection of pastoral life