The Shepherd's Calendar: Poem - Summary and Analysis

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      The Shepherd's Calendar (1579) was the earliest important work of Spenser. It consists of twelve eclogues one for each month of the year; written in different metres, and modelled on the eclogues of Theocritus, Virgil and more modern Writers. Four of them deal with love, one is in praise of Elysa (Elizabeth), one, a lament for a 'mayden of greate blond', four deal with matters of religion or conduct one describes a singing match and one laments the contempt in which poetry is held.

The Shepherd's Calendar (1579)
The Shepherd's Calendar

Critical Analysis

      The Shepherd's Calendar is modelled on the artificial pastoral popularised by Virgil and Theocritus. Theocritus and Virgil already sed the pastoral as a theme of love Spenser pursues the theme in more than one or the eclogues and tells the tale of his own hopeless passion for Rosalind. Technically, it is a poem of considerable merit and shows great power in dealing with various old metres in fresh and masterly way. His love of allegory leads him to pretty pieces of word-painting. Comparing this poem with the verse preceding it, one realises the richness, the warm pictorial beauty and sense of amplitude hitherto foreign to English poetry. Never before was there an English poem in which the combination of lines and rhymes was so various, rich and novel. In Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar, his humanist taste combines with his love for the soil. From the moment of its publication, Spenser became the acknowledged national poet.

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