Who is Colin Clout?
Lyrical Variations on the Epic Theme
of Making a Name for Oneself
Who Knows not Colin Clout?
During his pastoral sojourn in the Sixth Book of
The Faerie Queene,
Calidore wanders, in Canto 10, onto Mount Acidale, where he spies the
spectacle of a wheeling inflorescence made up of "An hundred naked
maidens lilly white, / All raunged in a ring, and dauncing in delight"
The elaborate outer ring revolves around an inner trio--the Three
Graces--in whose midst is placed "Another Damzell, as a precious
gemme" (6.10.12). This mysterious central figure is in turn given her
immediate narrative situation in a peculiarly
deccentering series of shifts:
But that faire one,
That in the midst was placed parauaunt,
Was she to whom that shepheard pypt alone,
That made him pipe so merrily, as neuer none.
She was to weete that iolly Shepheards lasse,
Which piped there vnto that merry rout,
That iolly shepheard, which there piped, was
(who knowes not
He pypt apace, whilest they him daunst about.
Pype iolly shepheard, pype thou now apace
Vnto thy loue, that made thee low to lout.
The effect of the deferent anadiploses is, through suspense, to
redirect our attention to the shepherd who was introduced as a
reference point for the damsel but who ultimately becomes the center
from which meanings will henceforth unfold. Whatever relief there is of
readerly suspense in being able to place the gemlike damsel as the
"iolly Shepheards lasse" may be blocked by a still more profound
perplex, and not merely because of the potential tension generated
through the apposition of the demeaning "Poore
and the aggrandizing "who knowes not
However conventionally rhetorical the latter
turn, one has difficulty not
seeing this as what is called a "trick question." For, if we have been
paying any attention, we must recognize the name at least
from the passing
acquaintance made with it in the previous canto. The assumed banality
of the name dropped ("who knowes not
on the one hand plays off on a currency already established in the
text, a currency rigged up through the pointed omission of any
contextualizing qualifications (Colin is simply mentioned in Canto 9,
without even the paraliptic introduction of "a man who needs no
introduction"). But the evocation of this figure in both cantos is of
course a flagrant indulgence in "homotextuality," for Colin Clout
was a name certainly known to most of the implied audience of the
second instalment of
The Faerie Queene.
Likewise, the figure of the gemlike damsel may have seemed somehow
familiar to Spenser's reader, especially once
the narrator had situated her in his address to Colin: "Thy loue is
present there with thee in place, / Thy loue is there aduaunst to be
another Grace" (st. 16). As Colin's love she might bring to mind the
equally mysterious "Rosalind" from the earlier
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe,
while as "another Grace" she could suggest to the more erudite reader
the variable fourth Grace which perhaps figured the encyclopedic
infolding of the other three in a Neoplatonic tradition.
Even less recondite readers might recall the episode in "April" of the
where Queen Elizabeth is promoted to "fyll the fourth place" (l. 16)
that seems to be wanted to make the dance of the Graces there "euen."
Previous commentators have argued that the enigmatic dancer here in
Book Six is Venus, the "fourth Grace," the Poetic Muse, the Queen,
"Rosalind," Spenser's wife--and she has even been taken as an analogy
for the poem itself.
But undecidability is affirmed in the text; Colin himself is unable to
provide a positive identification of his love, but can only muse in a
neat parallel of his own rhetorically questionable narrative situation:
[...] that fourth Mayd, which there amidst them traced,
cannot "aread" the identity of his mistress we would seem to be
justified in our own attempts at reading to demand: who
Critics who attempt to identify her positively with some figure from
the poet's biography ignore the conventional nature of her emblematic
function as a fourth Grace and her possible "implication" as nodal
infolding of the "graces" fragmented throughout the book. But critics
who opt for explanations based entirely on
Neoplatonic doctrines and Renaissance iconography have not been
entirely successful in explaining her problematical relationship to
Colin or her positive identification by him as "a countrey lasse"
When confronted with these figures, more naive modern readers may
quite impertinently want, like Calidore, to
them. But when the figures are approached, one will recall, the dancers
vanish, leaving only Colin to be interrogated.
It thus makes more sense to approach the mysterious dancer through him
than vice-versa, for
there is a considerable body of evidence surrounding the
former figure, and at least Colin Clout
does not seem to vanish into thin air
when we attempt to take a closer look at that body. We have here
at any rate a
to go on, and Roland Barthes was right, I think, in suggesting that the
proper name seems inevitably to be "filled with a person."
With that name comes a personality and a history.
Who can aread, what creature mote she bee,
Whether a creature, or a goddesse graced
With heauvenly gifts from heuen first enraced? (6.10.25)
What I want to do is bring together a body of evidence which
would be relevant to the critically heterodox question:
(as opposed to
is Colin Clout? Such a question may ultimately be as hopeless or
impertinent, but is also, I believe, as important and as difficult to
resist or repress, as that Calidorean desire that breaks up the dance
on Mount Acidale. Personality, I want to suggest, remains one of the
nominal connotations of the figure of Colin Clout, and the question of
knowing him cannot be decided solely by recourse to emblematic
traditions or abstract poetical theories or any of the other accepted
by which "[e]nthusiastic brushwork transforms human beings into
But I must admit that in broaching the subject of Colin Clout's
identity from this perspective, I have not been attempting to answer
questions so much as to question the answers with which one is
habitually supplied--answers, as I see them, in their own way
often as ambivalent and aporiac as the most problematical of what
A Name Not Greatly Used
The cultural connotations on which Spenser must have been depending
when he introduced his quasi-authorial figure into
The Shepheardes Calender
(published semi-anonymously, with a dedicatory verse signed
"Immeritô") are succinctly alluded to in the dual derivation provided
enigmatic glossator E.K.
in the note to "January":
COLIN Cloute) is a name not greatly vsed, and yet haue I sene a Poesie
of M. Skeltons vnder that title. But indeede the word Colin is Frenche,
and vsed of the French Poete Marot (if he be worthy the name of a
Poete) in a certeine |glogue. Vnder which name this Poete secretly
shadoweth himself, as sometime did Virgil vnder the name Tityrus,
thinking it much fitter, then such Latine names, for the great
vnlikelyhoode of the language. (Jan.Glos.)
The two lineages, represented by Skelton and Marot, and
conveniently labelled the English and French lines, represent
radically different cultural values, class affiliations and moral
freight. Skelton's Clout is the eponymous satirical persona of a
string of anticlerical harangues directed especially against the
powerful Wolsey. The attacks are framed and vitiated in a number of
ways; mainly, they are represented as hearsay--Colyn Cloute merely
repeats what he has heard,
"Semper protestando / De non impugnando."
Robert Kinsman once
suggested that Colyn functions as a medium
but he later argued that the poem as whole represents a subtle
orchestration of dissonant voices: poet, layman, heretic, priest,
Wolsey, and the refractory Colyn himself, self-avowed champion of the
clergy, but open channel for the
broadcast of a
proofing of clerical errors.
If such orchestration does exist in the
poem, however, it amounts to little more than a bit of ripieno
bridgework for the swollen cadenza of the anti-prelatic voice
dominating three-fourths of the poem's text, and often difficult to
distinguish from Colyn's own discourse.
The likelihood of Skelton's Clout being associated with
a dangerously demotic
satirical figure is reinforced by the general connotations the
name is already likely to have had before Skelton. "Colin" or "Coll"
seem to have been names carrying low, countrified overtones,
and Kinsman believes that
[t]he coupling of "Colyn" (rustic) with "clout" (rag) may have
been a colloquial one, as is generally believed. At any rate, Skelton
had already used "Clout" in the name Christian Clowte to designate a
rustic in the earlier poem
Manerly Margery Mylke and Ale.
Even in the poem
he applies the name Christian Clowte to a yokel.
Skelton's editor, John Scattergood, has additionally suggested that
the name Colin may derive from Latin
(farmer), although it is more usually supposed to have crystallized
in Britain in independent but geminate forms from Scots and French
If the native tradition suggested a figure frank,
base, coarse, and possibly
satirical, the name in French may have been common enough among the
upper classes. Colin Maillard, for example, who gives his name to the
game of blindman's buff in French, was a legendary knight.
Certainly the "shepherd" in Clément Marot's "eglogue"
on the death of Louise de Savoie, mother of François I, is in no way
intended to be mean or plainspoken.
The earliest surviving printing of this poem was published in
(Paris: P. Roffet, 1532) with a heading which described the "eglogue"
as one in which
"sont introduictz deux Pasteurs. Cest asavoir Colin Daniou & Thenot
de Poictou. Poetes contemporains de Lautheur
Marot's "pasteurs" Colin and Thenot have been variously identified.
Colin is usually supposed to be Germain Colin, a contemporary of
Marot's condemned for heresy about whom little else is known.
In subsequent printings, the indication that the shepherds were meant
to represent contemporary poets was dropped from the heading, and a
number of Spenser scholars have consequently assumed that "Colin" is
a front for the poet Marot himself.
Spenser may also have believed this, and it is difficult to determine
the referent of the equivocal demonstrative in the last line of E. K.'s
gloss: "[...] the word Colin is Frenche, and vsed of the French Poete
Marot. [...] Vnder which name
secretly shadoweth himself" (Jan.Glos.; my emphasis). It is not
entirely clear whether "this Poete" means Spenser or Marot, and some
critics still seem to assume the latter.
The status of Marot's Colin can be approached through the relationship
the poetic factotum enters into with "Pan," a name which here figures
the Theocritean divinity of nature and song (ll. 5, 11), but
elsewhere (and even here, according to some readings
.ct ), shadows the patron and real-life "King of poets" of Marot's own
experience, François I.
According to Thenot, Colin is essentially the equal of Pan; indeed, the
latter might even learn a thing or two by associating with the former:
"Il t'apprendroit & tu l'enseigneroys
" (l. 8).
The king may in fact be glanced at in Pan here, hinting at the
commensal rapport of poet and prince, but when he is unequivocally
referred to it is as the "grand Berger d'ici" (l. 58) and the "grand
Pasteur" (ll. 61, 105), epithets which rather earthily harp upon the
sublunary and societal limits of the monarch's dominion. However
conventional the association of poet and god, resonating as it does
with the agrestic portrayal of the king, the identification gives some
sense of the poet going over the head of the prince, and this
has in fact been identified as the characteristic gesture of the
Marotian "poetics of the eclogue."
If the very title of the later
Eclogue de Marot au Roy, soubz les noms de Robin & Pan
tends to suggest "an equality in fiction of sender and receiver,"
in the earlier eclogue the pastoral poet is not merely on a par with
"Pan," but would seem through the power of the poetic to transcend the
earthly authority figured in the "grand Berger" whose textual fate is
in his hands. Poetry, as Boudou argues, seems to be the central concern
of Marotian pastoral; a "conventional genre" is to some extent
proto-romantically transformed into a "personal" poem,
and Marot's Colin is an incarnation of the poetic personality just as
he is the central figure in the dramatic empowering of poetic
Colin Clout is Not Everybody
The initial inheritance of Spenser's crossbred figure thus involves
a basic tension between sociopolitical lowness and aesthetic highness
which Spenser was immediately to relegate into the uncertain middle
ground of the private and
the craftsmanlike. In
The Shepheardes Calender,
the true clout of the native low is diffused and defused in the veiled
highness of the conventional pastoral disclaimer of humility, while the
French high courtly ambitions are continually denied by the persona.
Yet Spenser must have known and meant people to recognize the
resonances of the name.
Critics have made little
of either tradition, but this is perhaps not surprising
since, as I will be arguing, Spenser operates a wholesale expurgation of
most of the relevant connotations in the gradual elaboration of his new
persona. Though almost
no attention has been drawn to the truly disruptive
low elements of the Skeltonic aspect, the possibly subversive Marotian
implications have even been more extensively played down. Critics have
perhaps rightly recognized that the situation by E. K.
of Colin Clout
in this dually audacious tradition is essentially belied by the
apolitical pose in the poems themselves.
This may at first seem a remarkable characterization to be making,
is remembered for incorporating at least
a certain amount of anti-clerical critique and at the same time
setting Spenser up as premier courtly poet of the age.
been made to link Spenser's persona to the
native pastoral tradition, notably by Paul McLane
who concludes that from Skelton's earlier
Colin are emitted "both the voice
of the poet and the voice of the common man" and that he is "the symbol
of the people of England."
As McLane sees it, "in both
Colin the main character represents the common man, and the poet."
The view of Colin as a type of the commoner squares with McLane's
that Rosalind, the figure beloved of Colin in the
stands for Queen Elizabeth
) and that Colin is thus
the spokesman for the devoted Elizabethan
In his booklength study McLane concluded that Colin figures at least
the English people, Spenser, and Everyman.
The first obejction that one can make to this vision of
Rosalind-Elizabeth's lover as a Clouted concretion of delegated
populism is that the more "Skeltonic" passages in the
(the anti-clerical satire of what E. K. calls the "moral" eclogues)
are in fact never voiced by Colin Clout; he is not even present in them.
do I think, are we encouraged to take Colin's calendrical experience to
be as universal as all that.
I think careful reading of the
leads to a sense of the development of a non-populist
"personality," owing at least
something to the Marotian Colin, but eventually
nothing to the Skeltonic Clout,
and indeed that along with that development there is in fact
covering up of the figure's commoner roots.
Against a view such as McLane's, I would argue that the figure is devoid
of Cloutish character practically from the start. I take my cue in this
rarification from an equivocal passage where Gabriel Harvey, in one of
the "proper and wittie" letters from the exchange published shortly
follows up an allusion to "Cuddie's" complaint ("October") over the
bootlessness of his metrical feats with the following discrimination:
is not euery body, and albeit his olde Companions,
be as little beholding to their
as euer you wist; yet he peraduenture, by the meanes of hir speciall
fauour, and some personall priueledge, may happely liue by
and purchase great landes, and Lordshippes,
with the money, which his
haue, and will afforde him.
It is the Colin of "personall priueledge" whose evolution will
henceforth be traced, and the survey of the whole of his holdings, held
out so tantalizingly in Harvey's hand. This is to insist that Colin
becomes "a figure, even a name to be reckoned with, in Elizabethan
only insofar as he has, or is, a
and one whose development is somehow "collinear" with that of his
creator. It is now generally recognized, of course, that any account of
the relationship between Colin Clout and the poet charts the alignment
and discrepancy of a "biographical fiction"
and a figure
that is central to that fiction's "imaginative life."
One could perhaps open such an account with the by no means anodyne
observation that the poet, in "making a name for himself," created an
alter ego who became, rather more than Spenser himself, a major
Elizabethan literary personality.
Colin would seem from E.K.'s comments to have been devised as a
quasi-corporate entity "vnder whose person," as E.K. puts it, "the
Authour selfe is shadowed" (Ded. Ep.). As a front, whether for poetical
ambitions or for religious and political commentary, "Colin Clout"
would have seemed to offer Spenser a uniquely multifaceted human
buckler, apt to shield ("shadow") him from "univocation" (a single
poetical as well as political career): overtly humble, covertly
courtly, it is a cryptonym which confronts the reader with the double
authority of native common sense and continental precedence
and Virgil via Marot).
But, as I have suggested, the Petrarchan desperado to whom we are
introduced in the "January" eclogue of the
does not initially seem to partake of the character of either his
Skeltonic or his Marotian namesake, nor to reproduce,
"mis en abyme,"
the poet responsible for the
Instead, we encounter a
pining over his unrequited love for
"a countrie lasse called
Rosalinde" (Jan.Arg.), whom he has seen on a trip to a nearby town,
but who "laughes the songes, that
doth make" (Jan.66). He concludes by spitefully rejecting "both pype
and Muse," the former because it cannot win him the object of his
desire, the latter because she cannot ease his suffering. Conventional
act of aggravated despond, he breaks his instrument, and a not
entirely un-Freudian ex-bagpipe lolls glumly at the shepherd's feet in
the woodcut before the eclogue.
It is from this private manifold of art and desire that the new
character can most easily be traced, even as his personality-status is
established through the "public" discourse of other figures,
frequently in eclogues from which he is himself absent. We do not hear
of him again after "January" until "April," where Hobbinol complains
of his friend's dejection. Colin now refuses to sing his habitual
songs "wherein he all outwent" (Apr.16). Here begins the
intra-calendrical development of the poetical personality and the
establishment of the poet's reputation, not yet alluded to in
"January," as premier piper among the shepherds of the eclogues.
Colin's "personal development" meanwhile flits mothlike around his
unfulfilled desire, an intrigue which in its flat, deadend
conventionality, biographical incommutability, and bald misogyny
has tended to prove increasingly unpalatable to modern
Punctuating and interfering with this romantic
degeneration whenever Colin is out of the picture is the mounting
recurrence to his poetic authority in the second half of the book and
the expansion of his fame, which, as Isabel G. MacCaffrey has noted,
"is signified [...] by the presence of three of his songs, performed
by his friends and betokening the true power of art."
In the first half of the year he is a shepherd boy, whose
lovelorn state is repined
by his admiring friend Hobbinol. In the second half, with the
continued atrophy of his erotic self, Colin's poetic personality takes
on an ever more pronounced, if equally undynamic, prominence. Mediating
between these two Colins is the poet's own pastoral practice, perhaps
not so very far removed from the opportunistic Valérian poetics
paraphrased by Gérard Genette as "I have nothing further to do with
literature: here's one more proof of the fact."
Colin Clout thus tends to become the "curiously static and
of an imaginative biography
of poet and lover. The passing of the seasons does indeed correspond
to the stages of a life, but it is not the life of Everyman, rather a
poet's life. Already in "June" the "shepheardes boy" of "January" is a
fond former self reproved by a "ryper age" (June.36) which can no
longer produce the ingenuous songs of youth, now passed into an almost
heroico-mythic memory in Hobbinol's recollection:
wyth Muses moe,
Soone as thy oaten pype began to sound,
Theyr yuory Luyts and Tamburins forgoe:
And from the fountaine, where they sat around,
Renne after hastely thy siluer sound.
But when they came, where thou thy skill didst showe,
They drewe abacke, as halfe with shame confound,
Shepheard to see, them in theyr art outgoe. (June.57-64)
To outdo the Muses seems to have been an early promise on which,
nel mezzo del cammin,
Colin defaults, as he explains,
because of the example of Pan's ill-fated contention with Apollo,
"Which him to much rebuke and Daunger droue" (69). Since hearing of
this, Colin avers: "I neuer lyst presume to
hyll" (68-70). Hindsight has allowed critics to draw the obvious
contrast between Colin's refusal here and the poet's eventual (and
perhaps already settled) acceptance:
The poet like Spenser who writes of pastoral does so through the
inspiration of the Muses, and he may eventually "presume to
hyll" regardless of "rebuke and Daunger." But when he does so he will
be leaving the pastoral itself behind, something the shepherd-poet
in pastoral obviously can never do.
With the tonalities of a kind of jaded
the shepherd-poet Colin insists that the internecine company of the
mighty is not for him; he will be content "pyping lowe in shade of
lowly groue" and playing "to please my selfe, all be it ill" (71-72).
He seems to protest in "June" a midlife privatization of his poetry,
no longer singing to win either his love or renown: "Enough is me to
paint out my vnrest" (79). That unrest includes the passing of his one
time tutor "Tityrus" (identified as Chaucer by E.K.), who formerly
brought such joy with his songs, but now lies "wrapt in lead,"
And all hys passing skil with him is fledde,
The influence of Tityrus is appropriately figured in liquefaction:
tears from the wellspring of the Muses with which the precursor could
"lightly slake / The flames, which loue within his heart had bredd"
(85-86), and which, if they rained over Colin Clout could be recycled
through him back into nature and grant Colin's
private plaints their dew.
At the same time, if Colin had Tityrian firepower at his disposal, his
sorrows would fly to the object of his desire and "pierce her heart"
with recognition and love even as they slew her in requittal for her
insensitivity. But Cupid's arrow seems to point irreversibly for the
shepherd's boy from love to poetry. His continued failure in romance
is the condition of his continued production of poetry in the
Colin's inability to match the seductive powers of Tityrus has been
seen as the first clear sign of his poetic impotence and an element in
his fall away from the personal myth of the poet's generic rise; but
the morbid allusion seems at the same time to be an imaginative
prolepsis in which the poet experiments with an extra-calendrical
after-fame; and indeed the late Tityrus in a certain sense figures
Colin's quasi-posthumous existence even in the subsequent eclogues
where, dead to the world, his fame condignly increases. He makes
no apprearance from "July" to "October," but we hear about him in the
latter three of the intervening months. In August he has become the
insuperable singer, foregone standard of poetic comparison, who had
bested Perigot and cost him a lamb (Aug.40-42): "Sike a song neuer
heardest thou, but
sing" (49-50). And in Cuddie's presentation, he is now the well-known
lover of an equally famous beloved, whose celebrity is abruptly
established in a strikingly reminiscent rhetorical gesture:
The fame whereof doth dayly greater growe.
But if on me some little drops would flowe,
Of that the spring was in his lerned hedde,
I soone would learne these woods, to wayle my woe,
And teache the trees, their trickling teares to shedde. (91-96)
But tell me shepherds, should it not yshend
The third shepherd present, Willy, makes it unanimous, talking of
Colin as though he were an established laureate, whose bays Cuddie may
inherit by reciting one of his masterpieces. The song proves an
undertaking that is lachrymose with a Tityrian vengeance, designed to
drown the addressse in murky nightmares. Eager for an end to his own
as sepulchral but not as silent as the tomb, Colin's persona vows to
take part "with the Nightingale" and to call to his love from a Keatsian
death-wood ("gastfull groue") until, as he darkly puts it, she "home
returne" (181): "let streames of teares supply the place of sleep"
(163). (Music is that Tityrian flood: -- but do I slake or merely
weep?) As the cimmerian sestina closes, Perigot pipes in with parallel
praise for songwriter Colin and singer Cuddie. "Again," as David Shore
points out, "despair in love is linked with excellence in
The highness of the praise corresponds to the lowness of the
despond, and as we know, the true Tityrian heights will be reached
only when the poet is six feet under.
Your roundels fresh, to heare a doolefull verse
Of Rosalend (who knowes not Rosalend?)
That Colin made, ylke can I you rehearse. (139-42)
the shepheards ioye,
Howe I admire ech turning of thy verse:
the liefest boye,
Howe dolefully his doole thou dost rehearse. (190-93)
But Colin's dying for love is the constant price of the
reburgeoning of his song in the fresh cut leaves of a new regeneration.
Fresh Cuddie is hinted at for Colin's potential young successor who,
in the harped upon characterization, can only "re-hearse" in funereal
procession the "doole" of the forlorn Colin Clout. Not himself apt for
such spriritual solace, in "October" fresh Cuddie complains that he
cannot soar into the loftiest realms of poesy, as Colin could "were
he not with loue so ill bedight" (Oct.89). Piers corrects him,
introducing into Colin's woebegone romanticism the Platonic doctrine
of Love which will become one of his trademarks:
Ah fon, for loue does teach him climbe so hie,
Cuddie cavils, but the situation dramatized in the latter months of
half bears Piers out, and Colin up. When we find him once more among
the living in "November," naturally, he is still "down," but the
lament of Dido, taking its cues from Marot, allows him once more to
rise to the occasion without transgressing the lowly lyrical bounds of
homage and eulogistic nature-manipulation. The eclogue opens with
Thenot and Colin bidding one another to sing. Thenot wants a merry
song, but Colin objects that such ill accords with the season; if
Thenot wants light fare, he will have to sing it himself. The latter
homilizes to the effect that the chirpy titmouse keeps quiet when the
sovereign nightingale sings, and goes on to place himself in relation
to Colin in precisely the wished-for position of Colin with regard to
the aspergent Tityrus of "June":
And lyftes him vp out of the loathsome myre:
Such immortall mirrhor, as he doth admire,
Would rayse ones mynd aboue the starry skie. (91-94)
Nay, better learne of hem, that learned bee,
The inverse or chiasmal ratio in the fiscal economy of the
year between what Walter Benjamin once called
is here made perfectly plain: the low-spirited Nightingale has higher
currency than the high-spirited Titmouse. Never one to underestimate
the value of that almighty dolor, Colin responds with the
quasi-Marotian tour de force which in E.K.'s opinion outreaches "all
other the Eglogues of this booke" (Nov.Arg.). This, like the "laye" of
in "April," represents the second poetic by-product of unrequited
desire (the first of course being melancholia)--that sublimation apt
to "rayse one's mynd aboue the starry skie."
Melancholia and sublimation are the cause and effect of the poetic
collaboration of form and discontent, and serve to balance
the central poetic bonus (fame) of the frustration of a "motive that
can be identified variously as desire, ambition, or aspiration."
From unsatisfaction comes melancholy, from which comes poetry, from
which comes sublimation. From poetic endeavor may also come fame, but
the price of that fame is the continued bafflement of living
gratification. Cupid's dart thus points for the poet back to poetry
and for the lover straight up into the air. Such would seem to be the
outline of the romantic biography of Colin Clout, a lowly poet-lover
with no place to go but up.
And han be watered at the Muses well:
The kindlye dewe drops from the higher tree,
And wets the little plants that lowly dwell. (29-32)
The final eclogue presents us with the poet's retrospective of that
biography from the vantage point of a moribund dotage. His song is
addressed to "Pan," now identified, in the Christological reading that
has been hinted at all along, as good shepherd and savior. Modelling
his complaint on Marot's
Eclogue au roy,
where Pan is François I and the poet speaks authentically from at
least the "autumn" of his life, Colin reviews and revamps the seasons
of his brief book-bounded biography, beginning with a Spring that was
happy and carefree, when all nature seemed to be there for Colin and,
with trivial tutoring, he sang so well that if
right iudgement bare,
The upset of this gay youth is adumbrated in the dissociation of that
other Pan in the final couplet. Spring gave way to hot summer and Love
entered the poetic economy. The early polymorphous perversity was
channeled into a straightforward path toward the unattainable object
his owne selfe pype I need not yield.
For if the flocking Nymphes did folow
The wiser Muses after
Forth was I ledde, not as I wont afore,
Age brought a further modification of the poetical drive, when the
original brisk and amorous materials were converted into defensive
structures and moralizing alibis, as Colin "learned of lighter timber
my cotes to frame" to "saue my sheepe and me fro shame" (77-78).
But if Colin can see his poetry as having found some slight personal
and social usefulness as defense and doctrine, it has had none of the
erotic efficacity once hoped for, and, as he insists, all his "hoped
gaine is turnd to scathe" (100). This bitter harvest has left him
senescent and near death, having lost his youthful delight without
gaining in exchange the woman who, more "literally" than Ronsard's
"l'a fait vieillir."
In this retrospective autobiography Colin shuffles through
the not always consistent myths of the poet-lover he has been or might
have been, ultimately delineating a "tragic" figure whose demise seems
to seal the continued vitality of the poet as such.
When choise I had to choose my wandering waye. (61-62)
The mythic character of this final figure is most easily located by
triangulating with two other figures. The first is Pan, who, apart
from Christ, represents, as in Marot, both the secular authority (in
"April," Henry VIII) and the Parnassian poetic contender (with Apollo
in "June" ) and thus perhaps their intersection in courtly heroic
The other figure is Tityrus, who figures the height of the low, the
poetic power of pastoral elegy, satire, song-contest, summery love and
lover's persuasive lament. At the same time, these two figures seem to
emblematize opposed myths of the relationship between poetry and
desire: Pan in the Ovidian account alluded to in "April" is left, when
he attempts to embrace Syrinx, the object of his desire, with a
gowpenful of hollow reeds, on which his palpitant lips will make
art, not love. In Spenser's account, of course, Pan is "K. Henry the
eyght" (Apr.Glos.), making Elizabeth
daughter without spotte" (Apr.50), a figure of "the immaculate
conception of poetry."
Against this myth of sterilizing sublimation, the Tityrian figure
describes a "downward" movement from reed back to woman, from poetic
power to gratified desire. Colin grounds his praxis in the Tityrian
myth only to float up with the passing months to become the frustrated
pastoral-master of syrinxian song.
Colin Clout has now come to be seen as a figure of failure, a demonic
double whose compulsive course into poetry for the sake of love
provides "a negative
from which Spenser dissociates himself emphatically."
David Miller argues that Colin, like Palinode in "May," is ultimately
an image of the "worldes childe," whose failure "is precisely a
failure to reenact Pan's sublimation of natural desire in the making
Similarly, Louis Adrian Montrose speaks of
Colin's failure to accomplish a critical transition from the pastoral
already mastered and outgrown to the higher poetic calling
which remains above his reach. Colin's Apollonian aspirations are
frustrated, and this frustration is beyond the powers of Pan to
sublimate into recreative pastoral art.
The "Apollonian aspiration" of which Montrose speaks refers to the
poet's supposed Virgilian objective of leaving the low leas to mount
hyll" (June.70), symbol, according to H. G. Lotspeich, of heroic as
opposed to pastoral poetry.
Colin's necessary distance from the poet is thus summed up even as it
is blurred in Montrose's conception of the
as "the vehicle of a young man's poetic and social ambitions that
incorporates within itself a projection of the possibility of its own
Such views, focussed as they are on the poet's will to Parnassian
power, may err in reading back into the
the dynamics of a poetic history which is perhaps not even hinted at
in the imaginary career of Colin Clout. But I am more concerned with
how they risk a falsification of the complicated relationship in which
Spenser remains with his pastoral self even as the poet's progress
does depart radically from the
Calender's projected agenda. Nor am I so sure that the
ends up showing a glaring
deficit in the account of Colin Clout.
Perhaps, instead, it explores the morbid side of "success," a vision
in which profit is always posthumous, the beloved's attitude is
commodified without being modified, pleasure is the poetic dividend of
those other people
who invest in the poet, and frustrated worldly desire is just
one more "pretext," one more means by which the text accrues
interest. Harry Berger, Jr. has glanced
at this darker aspect of the text, in a discussion which
interrogates the love/poetry dyad: "Spenser depicts the two terms of
this relationship as bound together in a conjuction that could ideally
be symbiotic but that under the influence of the paradise
principle is parasitic, with love suffering the role or function of
The "paradise principle" involves the collusion of impulses which E.K.
called "recreative" and "plaintive," and which Berger had previously
associated with wish-fulfillment and a rejection of reality
Colin's demise at the end of "December" does not perhaps so much
fabulate the failure of the aspiring poet
as the miscarriage of the Tityrian myth of the ultimate fulfillment of
non-poetic desire through poetry: the
of an unsatisfactory
Berger's "paradise principle" embroils the poetic principle and the
pleasure principle into an unregenerate or inertial death drive that
recalls Ernst Bloch's panic exegesis of
Et in Arcadia ego:
"in fact, the ego of the prophetic device signifies
so that even in Arcadia death can be seen to be inscribed."
In this case, Colin Clout would certainly not be everybody, no
at all, but a very specific poetic
operating according to a Bergeresque "paradise principle" in flight
from living reality and ultimately finding its satisfaction in poetic
death. And the poet may well have shared, if not this id-psychology
suspicion of sublimation, at least the moralizing consternation with
which an earlier Berger responded to the "pastoral retreat from life":
"Morality needs more articulate advocates, and this means that
rhetorical skill such as Colin Clout commands must be brought to bear
on social problems. Colin must therefore be drawn out of himself, made
to face life and place his art in the service of the public good."
The Shepheardes Calender
is a "negative
it would seem to be a nightmare vision less of desire surrendered to,
than of the dead-end of desire for poetry's sake, or of poetry
for poetry's sake. Perhaps the poet realized that pastoral poetic
self-consciousness was bound to lead to a degenerative repetition
compulsion rehearsing the action of, to play on words, Empson's
famous formulation of pastoral as "putting the complex into the
complicating the univocal poet away from both personal and public
engagement and spiritual health.
But the "Colin Clout Complex" was not so easily to be
buried by a Spenserian superego.
After the first three books of
The Faerie Queene
had come out and established Spenser as the epic poet of Elizabeth's
England, the character abruptly resurfaced in
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe,
a text whose title is infinitely equivocal in its reference to the
restorational or recidivist movements of both Colin and the poet, each
of whom is back: back to England, back to Ireland, back to poetry,
back to pastoral, and most importantly back among the living who have
been as dead in his absence. In the opening lines of the poem,
Hobbinol welcomes him as one much missed:
my liefe, my life, how great a losse
This Orphic comeback seems to bespeak the reanimation of the dormant
pastoral landscape, but if this
in some sense a return of the repressed it is not without that
repetitive difference which Kierkegaard fingered and Freud toyed with,
but which only took on the full gleam of second coming's sheepish grin
when clothed in Thomas Wolfe's infamous demur.
The author self
Had all the shepheards nation by thy lack?
Whilest thou was hence, all dead in dole did lie:
The woods were heard to waile full many a sythe,
And all their birds with silence to complaine:
The fields with faded flowers did seem to mourne,
And all their flocks from feeding to refraine:
The running waters wept for thy returne,
And all their fish with langour did lament:
But now both woods and fields, and floods reviue,
Sith thou are come, their cause of meriment,
That vs late dead, hast made againe aliue: (16-17; 22-31)
The "vulgar psychologizing" of the previous section may seem
needlessly to personalize and biographize a figure who is easily enough
understood as the evolutionary outcome of "purely textual" pressures
selecting for this peculiar amalgamation of traditional pastoral and
lyric roles, and whose sentimentalized death could as well be put down
to one more premeditated textual gesture among the many by which "the
attempts "to create the space it seeks to occupy,"
by introducing itself as an "instant classic,"
a finished product sealed within an elaborate apparatus of introduction
and gloss which, along with the archaisms of diction, give it some of
the feel of the mature and closed production of a re-edited ancient. I
do not, however, think that even the most fiercely textualist critics
will deny that, if Colin does indeed become more of an Elizabethan
personality than Spenser himself, neither his character nor his
function can be accurately described without some reference to the
Even those who wish to disentangle his identity maximally from the
author's self may resort to modernist arguments of narratorial irony
and impersonalism, reading into Elizabethan textual production an
existentialist element that has every likelihood of being as
essentially post-romantic as the naturalistic biographizing they repugn.
A Kierkegaardian pseudonym may indeed, as Louis Mackey insists, be "a
an imaginary person created by the author for artistic purposes," not a
nom de plume,
a fictitious name used to protect his personal identity from the
threats and embarrassments of publicity."
Or such pseudonyms may, as Theodor Adorno has it, not even be "personas
in whose matchless
is tightly wound up
but rather "abstractly representative figures from top to toe."
Such cavils are probably pertinent enough to the pseudonymous production
of a nineteenth-century master-ironist (although even here one might
not so glibly accept the ironist on his own (?) terms), but to adopt
attitudes of this sort toward the Elizabethan quasi-authorial persona
must entail a certain disregard for the essentially social modes
whereby the person of the author became implicated in the presentation
of the poetic alter ego. This is not to say that the persona might not
be both patch and immortal diamond. The persona in question is
undoubtedly a "man of clouts" fadged up, on the one hand, out of the
unwhole cloth of tradition, and at the same time the "clout" to be hit
or misssed, an
essence in the poet's self-crystallization (whether as positive
ego-ideal of true perfect pattern of a poet, contrasted with the
ironically proposed venality of a Cuddie, or as negative ideal embodying
all that must be avoided).
But this should not lead one to ignore an association between author
and persona which was socio-textually conditioned and which could work
to the author's advantage, shadowing that author from the "threats and
embarrassments of publicity" and mediating between author and public
through its quasi-magical status of name to be conjured with.
For the persona is not merely a device for dramatizing and distancing,
but also one for "approximating" and appropriating one's textual
activity. In any case, it is obviously not in "distancing" one's
discourse that one guarentees one's "authenticity." So-called
"ironical" distancing of discourse through quasi-authorial personas
doubtless developed originally not so much as a defense against
individual spiritual determination or existential univocality as against
authority, and medieval allegorical practices must be supposed to have
survived into the Renaissance as much for political as for
epistemological reasons. Those authors who used dramatized mouthpieces
for their discourse were perhaps the "genuine hypocrites" for whom
Nietzsche sought in vain in his own day, figures less interested in the
cognitive or creative bonuses of self-subversion than in saving
themselves through duplicity
from the "threats and embarrassments of publicity."
As David Miller points out,
[d]uring the 1580s,
while Spenser preserved a strategic anonymity, the identity of
"Colin"--or simply "that Gentleman who wrate the late Shepheardes
Calender"--was thus created
by the text
as a public entity distinct from Spenser himself. Instead of deriving
its authority from him, in other words, the
created an authority which he could later assume with ease, almost with
nonchalance: "who knowes not
"Distancing" the persona created a second and "seconding" authority
that could then be reappropriated. But I think it was an authority
might then be expected to
Whatever potentials there may have been or may now be for a complex
response to cryptonymic representation, it is fairly clear that the
of the day did not have the sensitivity to a discrimination of textual
levels and "agencies" which modern narratological hygiene demands, and
had no qualms about using the names of personas to refer to "real
authors," or at least to those "implied authors" who, as Gérard
Genette has demonstrated, are as about as "real" as authors can get.
In fact, far from always respecting the de-centering, parodic or ironic
potential of allegorical overdetermination and onomastic polysemy, the
literati were given to making pointed references to individuals under
the aspects of their authored personas. Thus, "Astrophel" was another
name for Sidney, Lodge came forth as "Golde," and Nashe barely kept
himself from being
by the constant characterization of his person as such. (He does of
course frequently turn Pierce Penniless into himself.) In the opening
volley of the Nashe-Harvey quarrel alone, what most of us now--even
if we are not "naive"--would
consider to be one and the same author, at least for juridical
purposes, and to whom we would apply the single "true" name, Edmund
Spenser, is referred to not only as "Colin Clout" and "Immerito," but
even under the sufficiently incongruous cognomen of the framework
Making a name for oneself meant creating textual personas which,
nominally separate from one's public and private selves, frequently
became one's most compelling and hence most demanded roles, for which
one could indeed be held at least textually responsible. However
metaphysically complicated the questions of reference here, one can be
sure that any
consequences, pleasant or otherwise, of the activities or reception of
Colin Clout would fall upon the author. For Colin
that author to many of his contemporaries. This can be illustrated by a
brief survey of his textual appearances after the
had come out.
Indeed, the two seem to have been so closely associated in the minds of
the author's contemporaries that neither one seems to have had much of
an identity without the other; it might be said that together they make
up a personality.
The first person to make the identification of Colin and the author
was, of course, "E.K.," in the enigmatic formulation already quoted:
"Colin, vnder whose person the Authour selfe is shadowed" (Ded. Ep.).
This statement is not without certain tensions, since even as they are
equated the agencies are dissociated through Colin's having or being a
"person" and through the doubling of the figure in an author and his
shadow. E.K. repeats the identification of Colin and author, though
again in peculiarly equivocal terms, in the gloss to "January"
previously discussed, and in a note to "September" where he finesses:
"Nowe I thinke no man doubteth but by Colin is euer meante the Authour
The identification is next made by Spenser's colleague Gabriel
a person who in contrast to the author of the
is openly named both there and in the letters between them published
in 1580. In his letter to "Immerito" of 23 April occurs the passage
about Colin Clout not being everybody which has already been cited.
This passage too is not unequivocal, typically talking to "Immerito"
about "Colin Clout" in the third person, but also alluding to "his
and so strictly identifying Colin and the author. At the end of the
letter, Harvey also addresses "Immerito" in a Latin passage where he
promises to reply to a letter from the addressee's sweetheart, whom he
"mea Domina Immerito, mea bellissima Collina Clouta."
Thus Harvey would seem indescriminately to refer to the author of
sometimes as "Immerito," sometimes as "Colin Clout."
In the decade that followed the
there are three other known allusions to Colin.
Abraham Fraunce quotes extensively from the
with frequent mention of the speaker Colin Clout, in a work entitled
The Shepheardes Logike,
apparently written in the early or mid-1580s,
but published only in 1588 in an expanded and revised form as
The Lawiers Logike.
William Webbe, in his
Discourse of Englishe Poetrie
(1586), also mentions the character ("the rufull song of
sung by Cuddie").
And there is the well-known scene in George Peele's
Araygnement of Paris,
published in 1584, but acted earlier, where
"Colin the enamoured sheepeherd singeth his passion of love."
At the end of said song Colin seems bent on suicide; in the following
scene three acquaintances--"Hobinol, Digon, Thenot"--discuss Colin's
plight, and Digon testifies that the obect of desire, here called
"Thestilis," will have "her disdainefull fault" avenged upon her.
Peele's adoption of the Spenserian character anticipates the pastoral
boom of the 1590s, opening a period that will be heavily punctuated
with Colins and semi-Colins. These isolated allusions to Colin in the
1580s already exemplify the triplex person of the Cloutish trinity to
come: author, character, and wholly ghost. But it is in an uneasy
mix of the first and last that he tends to make his reappearances, a
kind of extant patron saint of upwardly mobile pastoralists subject to
endless revision as the attributes of the historical Spenser that are
inconsistent with the closed myth of the calendrical Colin get
anachronistically attached to him. It is once more Harvey who sets the
tenor for the expansion of Colin's image in the 1590s, inaugurating
the vocative address of the author under Colin's name in "Hobynoll's"
commendatory verse "To the learned Shepheard" published at the end of
the first three books of
The Faerie Queene
Collyn I see by thy new taken taske,
some sacred fury hath enricht thy braynes,
That leades thy muse in haughtie verse to maske,
and loath the layes that longs to lowly swaynes.
That lifts thy notes from Shepheardes vnto kings,
So like the liuely Larke that mounting sings.
Thy louely Rosolinde seems now forlorne,
and all thy gentle flockes forgotten quight,
Thy chaunged hart now holdes thy pipes in scorne,
those prety pipes that did thy mates delight.
Those trustie mates, that loued thee so well,
Whom thou gau'st mirth: as they gaue thee the bell.
The oxymoronic "learned Shepheard" neatly signifies the impossible
figure of Colin's extra-calendrical afterlife. He is the same person
whose erotic frustration conditioned the sublimation in art which was
the delight of the male-bonded pastoral society of versifying and
otium, but as Harvey somewhat grudgingly admits--Rosalind "now
forlorne"--a feminine more eterne in her mutabilitie has drawn the
author upward: "that
of thine" has edified and raised up "our Collyns flowing quill."
Harvey, who is generally supposed to have been insufficiently
enthusiastic about Spenser's epic, does not celebrate the new Colin
without a tinge of nostalgia for the former boyish days marked in the
pages of the
and while Colin will tend to take on the published aspects of the
author as they develop he remains a somewhat plangent focus of
pastoral desire for those who emulate and enlarge him, a figure of the
rather collegiate lost world of camaraderie, ease, and by-productive
or by-play poetizing as an end in itself.
Thus, in the third eclogue of Michael Drayton's
a work heavily influenced by the
Perkin prods Rowland-Drayton in his pastoral undertaking:
laies his pipes to gage,
"Learned Colin," as he is also called by Thomas Lodge,
is both the example of poets who would become as "great"
as his new "heroike stile"
has made him, and also the sorely missed "great chiefe of sheepheards
who, in the overworked and underpaid etymology, has been e-ducated,
led away from the sweet especial rural scene of the
Epic clout has left Colin the immaterial patron of poets like Drayton
and Barnfield, and the sponsor, to brush lips with a pun, of William
Smith, who dedicated his sonnet sequence
(1596) "to the most excellent and learned Shepheard
with the request that he shelter the author's poems "vnderneath the
shadow of thy wings," and grateful acknowledgment "that it pleased thy
graue shepherdhood / The patron of my maiden verse to bee."
John Marston may have had Smith in mind, or any number of others, when
he wrote of the mid-decade escalation in the production of coy
And is to fayrie gone a Pilgrimage:
the more our mone.
Another yet dares tremblingly come out,
But first he must invoke good
In the course of the 1590s Colin thus became an image of poetic
power and ascendancy, but there is generally a certain nostalgia for the
former pastoralist attached to the fetishized figure. In Spenser's own
works the invocations of Colin do not designate the present author
without projecting him into a kind of nagging simulacrum of Colin past.
Indeed, the name seems to be produced
by the author's guilty conscience in his initial direct reference to
himself as Colin, found in the morosely symptomatic first of his rather
The Ruines of Time,
which decathects the realm of evanescent worldly fame and admiration
even as it sets up a "moniment" (monument cum admonition) that lays
the material base of any posthumous Elysian perpetuation of "Poets and
Heroes strong" (l. 341).
The narrator tells how sitting on the banks of the Thames one day he
beheld the spirit of Verulam, ruined Rome of England, bewailing the
decay of worldly glory and admiration from the other side. This goes on
for some time, interspersed with excerpts from "Colinshed's Chronicle,"
to recall Harvey's pun,
until the spirit comes to the fall of Leicester, Spenser's ill-fated
employer at the time of the
Calender's appearance. Once admired and beloved of all, the
died ignobly and now "all his greatnes vapoured to nought," his name is
"worne alreadie out of thought." No poet any longer
celebrates him, though
"manie Poets honourd him aliue":
Ne doth his
Care now his idle bagpipe vp to raise,
Ne tell his sorrow to the listning rout
Of shepherd groomes, which wont his songs to praise:
Praise who so list, yet I will him dispraise,
Vntill he quite him of this guiltie blame:
Wake shepheards boy, at length awake for shame.
(ll. 219, 222, 225-31)
Colin again comes up in a text written about the same time but only
published for general circulation in 1596,
a pastoral elegy on Lady Douglas Howard. Here the narrator wanders
dreamily out of town, and before he can even decently drop into the
sweven of his Chaucerian precursor, he has encountered the disconsolate
(Lady Howard's bereaved widower, Arthur Gorges) mourning the loss of
his regally leonine "Daphne." When his praises of the departed have
reached a particularly hyperbolic pitch, he breaks off to cast a
sidelong textual glance at the queen in a solicitous subjunctive:
Again Spenser uses a dramatized speaker to allude to himself under his
pastoral persona. If the reference in
The Ruines of Time
recalls a Colin who was
shepherd, the reference in
recalls Colin's role as Elizabeth's
poet (i.e., in "April's" lay of "fayre
Interestingly, shepherd Colin is presented as occupying the laudatory
position with regard to the queen which Gorges holds in relation to his
own ex-wife, and Colin drenches Elisa with his liquid praises
as Alcyon does Daphne with his tears.
The Ruines of Time
are the only poems by Spenser in which Colin is mentioned without
appearing as a character, and in both cases it is clear that the author
self is implicated and that some impetus is generated toward a
reconciliation of that self with its phantomatic double.
The praises of my parted loue enuy,
For she hath praises in all plenteousnesse,
Powr'd vpon her, like showers of
By her owne Shepheard,
her own Shepherd,
That her with heauenly hymnes doth deifie,
Of rustike muse full hardly to be betterd. (ll. 225-31)
The most comprehensive picture of the author called Colin Clout
as we find him around the middle of the decade, disclosing as it does
the figure's precarious multiple personality, is perhaps provided by
G. W. Junior's commendatory verse to the
Amoretti and Epithalamion,
published in 1595:
Ah Colin, whether on the lowly plaine,
But the mounting of that hill seems always to have held out a certain
sisyphean potential for the author called Colin Clout, and when he
suddenly reappears in the Spenserian text
we are not surprised to find him back where he
started, though perhaps it can be said that he knows the place for the
Best known of that name
pyping to shepherds thy sweete roundelaies:
or whether singing in some lofty vaine,
heroick deedes, of past, or present daies:
Or whether in thy louely mistris praise,
thou list to exercise thy learned quill,
thy muse hath got such grace, and power to please,
with rare inuention bewtified by skill,
As who therein can euer ioy their fill.
O therefore let that happy muse proceede
to clime the height of vertues sacred hill,
where endles honor shall be made thy meede.
Because no malice of succeeding daies,
can rase these records of they lasting praise.
The shepheards boy (best knowen of that name)
first sung his lay,
Laies of sweet loue, without rebuke or blame,
Sate (as his custome was) vpon a day,
Charming his oaten pipe vnto his peres,
The shepherd swaines that did about him play:
Who all the while with greedie listfull eares,
Did stand astonisht at his curious skill,
Like hartlesse deare, dismayd with thunders sound.
The opening nine lines of
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe
enact in an abrupt tableau the author's shifty relationship to the
introjected audience or implied readership which was provided for him
by the more "poetic" faction of the intelligentsia. The scene of
crouched low and piping "without rebuke or blame" to peers who sport
about him (note how potentially paternal coevals ["peres"] are portrayed
frolicking offspring) recomposes in the flash of an inverted
epic metaphor (cf.
into an admiring and desirous entourage hushed and tense to hear what
the thunder will say.
The word which perhaps most neatly collects the sense of transfixed awe
and auricular appetite is
adoration ("et ad orationis et ad vitae,"
to stitch in a tag no doubt illegally removed in good Elizabethan
fashion from its Ciceronian context). Discussing the informing simile
of the shifted scene, Sam Meyer has pointed out that "[t]he comparison
is also intended to convey empathically to the
reader the attitude that he himself should adopt towards Colin's words,
in somewhat the same way that the chorus in a Greek play conveys the
response appropriate to the audience."
I assume that according to this reading, the "dear reader" will
hopefully identify with the "hartlesse deare"--unmated, doe-eyed
darlings--into which the "shepheard swaines" are metamorphosed as they
become frozen in the dreadful rapt desire of an
Such trancelike states are induced, in Meyer's view, through the covert
discourse of a narrator similar to the "Chaucerian" one in the
later unmasked by Alice E. Lasater, whereby "the poet calls attention
to himself through conscious humility and by praising himself through
The mimetic desire which
Come Home Againe
would engender in the dear reader relies on a delitescent
which is presumably styled after the
crafty utilization of a "hidden narrator":
The contribution of the narrator to the orectic climate of the poem
is most influential in the opening and closing passages [...] because
these set the mood of the whole by establishing a control to moderate
the writer-reader relationship. [...] In the introductory passage,
words strongly suggestive of pleasantness aid in setting up a
euphoristic relationship between the writer and the reader or
listener. [...] The voice of the narrator is thus seen to be important
in creating the overall "atnosphere" that is to obtain between writer
and reader and in assisting the reader to respond appropriately to
Colin's speeches by reference to their effect upon the immediate
audience of shepherds.
These critics have recognized
the would-be hypnotism of the disembodied voice of the authorial
narration and how it helps bring off a Spenserian illusion that is wish
fulfillment in the fullest sense. The split of "agencies" allows the
author to praise the persona or have him praised, a form of
"self"-congratulation impossible in the overt self-characterizations of
both author (cf. the unflagging apologistics of humility and
The Faerie Queene)
and--with few exceptions--persona. But in the
Colin's narrative situation had played out poetic
of authorial ascendancy and personal petrification whose
self-aggrandizement could be retold in
Come home Againe
with the magical dividend of a
For a good passed newly to discus,
The author obligingly disposed what the narrator proposed, but perhaps
too much emphasis can be put on the role of this excluded narratorial
middleman in Colin's characterization.
[PASSAGE DELETED FROM FINAL DRAFT: Most of Colin's reputational
inflation in the text actually comes from the words crammed into those
engorged balloons protuding from the orificies of the intradiagetic
entourage, effectively blocking out the better part of their own faces
and flattening them against the edges of the frame. Even so, some of
the figures are identificable as the author's poetic cohort, suggesting
the now rather unpalatable ventriloquism whereby he put words of
self-praise into the mouths of his caricatured friends and colleagues.]
Like so many Elizabethan writers, Spenser was addicted to an
exploitation of the readerly potential to blur the intradiegetic
audience into the agency of the extradiegetic narratee, an agency, in
turn, as Genette sees it, equivalent to that of the "implied reader,"
which inheres in the text not as a voice or a mouthpiece but more as
"an ear, one drawn at times quite precisely and obligingly."
The "hungrie eares" (l. 53) thus lent to, or perhaps "borrowed" by the
poet serve to transmit what Meyer calls the "orectic climate" or "the
'atmosphere' that is to obtain between writer and reader" even as they
provide empty media waiting to be glutted with what Derrida would call
Spenser, to paraphrase W. L. Renwick's remark, was never one to rate
Colin's performances too cheaply,
but Colin did not require large figures to underwrite his own
occasional self-advertisements, and he could usually make ends meet
with the mere loan of an ear, whether it be that of Ralegh, the
"shepheard of the Ocean," who found the poet in his Irish hideaway,
perhaps "allured with my pipes delight, / Whose pleasing sound
yshrilled far about" (61-62), or that of Queen Elizabeth, to whom the
"Shepheard of the Ocean" introduced him,
By dubble vsurie doth twise renew it. (38-39)
And to mine oaten pipe enclin'd her eare,
The last instance is introduced by "Alexis," who points out the
mechanism apparently by way of exemplar response rather than exposure,
and then immediately reverts to the mass aural fixation:
That she thenceforth therein gan take delight,
And it desir'd at timely houres to heare. (360-62)
By wondring at thy
thy selfe thou mak'st vs more to wonder,
And her vpraising, doest thy selfe vpraise.
But let vs heare what grace she shewed thee. (353-56)
The prick-eared emptiness of the entourage, referred to at one
point in flat synecdoche as "eares [...] / Who all that
do couet faine" (98-99), can be filled only by the voice of authority
or by the plenitude of the shepherd's pipe, the syrinxian hollow
phallus of consolation, relying for its substantiality on the airborne
aural gratification of the acoustic.
[PASSAGE DELETED FROM FINAL DRAFT:
And magically, as if endorsing the derridean otomania, the accolades
eventually begin to drop of their own accord from the gaping mouths of
the real-life fellows and followers of a new generation.
At one time there had been only Harvey to enact publicly a version
of his adulatory role as Hobbinol. Indeed, the entire manifold of
self-presentational gimmicks may have been suggested to the poet by his
"sinister" advisor. A figure of incalculable premeditation, and in
more than one way the would-be Gertrude Stein of his day, Harvey in his
notebooks presents us with countless reworkings of pseudo-allographical
congratualtory and affectionate self-characterizations made up to be
the discourse of others. (See
The Letter-Book of Gabriel Harvey,
ed. Edward John Long Scott
[London: Camden Society, 1884], 101-36, etc.)]
dramatization, both here and in the
of shepherds responding with aching admiration and audience to the
sublimity of Colin and his pipe was ostensibly designed to provide an
intradiegetic point of view, or
whereby readers could orient themselves with regard to the discursive
position of the poet, "but I am not sure," as Genette once more wearily
intones, "that such effects do not at times backfire: the reader is not
so dense as to 'adopt' unconditionally 'points of view' that are so
obvious in their partiality, and indeed openly presented as such."
And even if the self-prophecy of pastoral pre-eminence in the
had indeed been fulfilled by the time the
later poem came out, the dramatization of the figure of Colin
Clout did not fail to go on diverging in doubling fantasy from
the living author's actuality. Though the admiring awe of the
intradiegetic audience winds up mirrored in the textual attitudes of the
author's real-life literary audience, the Lazarian miracle of
revivication which Hobbinol reads over Colin's return to the pastoral
setting was not actually
reflected in the publicational milieu at the time the
poem was finally brought out, at the height of a mid-decade renascence
of pastoral for which it was too late for the author to be taking
credit or exacting
"dubble vsurie" in 1595. The past-oral elements in fact ring
somewhat false with the fulminous authority attributed to the poet as
epic voice of England, and with the awe-struck silence and the
breakdown of the dialogical manifold of truly pastoral voices into the
monologue of epic narrativity in
Come Home Againe.
Yet I can ratify Meyer's view only if
emphasis is put on the final line:
In view of the fact, then, that the poem exists mainly to embody a
sequence of reflections and attitudes uttered by Colin, it is feasible
to consider these utterances in the same way that one might examine the
statements in a poem containing only one speaker--the poet himself,
speaking either in his own person, or under a mask,
or in a combination of the two.
The dominant voice does not enter into dialogic conversation with
the other pastoral figures, but this is not, as it sometimes was in the
because he is by himself, or present in society only as an
He has now assumed his authority publicly, and accordingly
all discourse in the text
essentially either originates with him or is directed back to that
source of experience. But the origin and destination of this authority
is still being dissimulated and distorted in the doubling
of authorial and persona-generated narration.
The dissonance unheard in the "harmonic" channeled through those
"hungrie eares" can perhaps be discerned if one amplifies the "orectic"
ambience of Colin's "coming home." To begin with, Spenser has projected
onto the figures of Irish yokels some of the cyptonyms and arguably
even some of the personalities of his former fellow English literati.
This allows him to play up the oracular extraterritoriality of Colin on
two fronts. The pastoral entourage hangs upon his words because he has
seen "the other side," but the location of this other side is relative
to a shifting sense of "home" which creates an uncertainty that could
legitimately be called
The coming home again has been the author's visit to England and
courtly highness, but also the poet's return to the serene lowness of
Ireland and of pastoral. The modality of the audible
so harped upon renders
uncertain the sense of direction and the location of origins, setting
up a disorientation whose
atmosphere could nicely be played up in the otosis of "eariness."
The auditive ardor of the shepherds figures both the curiosity of the
provincial toward the court and the fascination of the English poetic
hayseeds who would sprout syrinxian pipes like those which the author
had successfully traded for "trumpets sterne"
1.Pr.1) for his foray into the Elysian field of heroic verse. The
disorientation cannot be resolved by analyzing allegiances into an
opposition between England-court-epic-Heaven and
Ireland-country-pastoral-Earth because while Colin's home may, at least
in this poem, appear in all cases to be the latter, the author's were
in some sense always more the former. Part of the reason he has become
to trace, of course, is that the letter of the text provides no space
for any "return address." The poet is the source as well as the
destination of a chain letter in which he plays both ends against the
In spite of this discursive disorientation--which is more simply put
down to a chicane (as insipid to a modern taste as that practised upon
Francis the tapster's boy by Poins and the Prince)--and the antiphonal
interplay of author and Colin Clout calling out in insistent
counterpoint, it is in the Irish pastoral setting that our hero is last
seen in the poem, and that his character somehow seems most
in a contention-free environment of pre-eminence and pure poetry. Here
Pan does not contend with Apollo, and there is instead a comfy sense
of humanist comity and community. No envy arises between the powerful
"shepheard of the Ocean" and the masterful Colin in that bucolic
He pip'd, I sung; and when he sung, I piped,
The Elysian court which Colin describes to his captivated audience is,
too dangerous a place,
"Where each one seeks with malice and with strife, /
To thrust down other into foule disgrace, /
Himselfe to raise" (690-92),
and Colin protests that the pastoral landscape is once more to be his
final resting place, come home from England and the court. Come home
too--"Rosalind" having suddenly re-entered the picture--from an
extrojected desire that could not be satisfied "over there," having
failed perhaps in an Orphic mission to lead her back with him to
pastoral Earth from the Elysian overworld. And so, verging on the
precariously extenuated deathbed discourses of a Robert Greene, we find
Colin at the end of
Come Home Againe
come home yet again to snug poetry, renown and an imminent demise,
pouring into the eager ears which the text will always lend the hollow
notes of his resignation:
By chaunge of turnes, each making other mery,
Neither enuying other, nor enuied,
So piped we, vntill we both were weary. (76-79)
And ye my fellow shepheards which do see
No one, however, who has become acquainted with Colin and with the poet
best known of that name will be surprised by the lines which with
inevitable conventionality follow up this envoy:
And heare the langours of my too long dying,
Vnto the world for euer witnesse bee,
That hers I die, nought to the world denying,
The simple trophe of her great conquest. (947-51)
Loth to depart, he nevertheless rises, having once again left himself
with nowhere to go but up. If Colin Clout would not go to the
mountain, the mountain must come to Colin Clout; and the heavens once
more threaten the heartless dears "with thunders sound."
So hauing ended, he from the ground did rise,
And after him vprose eke all the rest:
All loth to part, but that the glooming skies
Warnd them to draw their bleating flocks to rest. (952-55)
The end of
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe
seems to hold out faint hope that Colin will rise anew in the
Spenserian text. If this ascension were to take place one would expect
it to be via the ethereal Platonic doctrine of Love which Piers had
originally assigned to Colin in the
(Oct.91-96) and which was the subject of an extended
disquisition at the end of the later poem, whereby the exalted Priest
of Love (cf.
Come Home Againe,
832) seemed once more ready to renounce his desire for Rosalind and to
console himself with the uplifting reflection that "such immortall
mirrhor, as he doth admire, / Would rayse ones mynd aboue the starry
skie" (Oct. 93).
[DELETED: even in a watered-down version not so terribly far
from Oscar Wilde's minimalist cold comfort: "we are all in the
gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."]
But the pastoral self could no longer be kept entirely
remote from the epic personality that the author called Colin Clout
had now become, and ultimately, on the heights of Mount Acidale, Colin
had to be as good, at last, as his name. Kenneth Borris has
suggested that Spenser's Colin "alludes to Latin
'pertaining to a hill'; the poet's vatic role is thus implied, because
an elevated place was a visionary symbol."
Indeed, as Borris points out, our first encounter
with the shepherd's boy found him bringing out his "long ypent" herd:
Tho to a hill his faynting flocke he ledde,
And thus him playnd, the while his shepe there fedde. (Jan.11-12)
It may be significant that he is not said to climb the hill, a
pastoral commonplace whereby the piper-shepherd may "overlook" his
flock while engaging in song (cf.
The Faerie Queene
1.1.23). The ambivalence of this topos became prominent during
"June," in which Hobbinol begins by imploring Colin to leave "those
hilles, where harbrough nis to see" (19) and join him and the others in
the pleasant communal dales. The "wastfull hylls" (50) are the
conventional haunts of poetic solitude and inspiration, whence once,
according to Hobbinol, echoed the Colin-songs that first enticed and
then took aback the Muses (57-64). It is in panic response
to the suggestion of envy that Colin hastily insists upon the scorn in
which his "homely shepheards quill" is held by the Muses (67), denying
any intention of mounting
hyll," and apparently forswearing all heights:
Nought weigh I, who my song doth prayse or blame,
Ne striue to winne renowne, or passe the rest:
With shepheard sittes not, follow flying fame:
But feede his flocke in fields, where falls hem best. (73-76)
The question of climbing was debated in the Mantuan-modelled moral
eclogue of "July," where the goatherd Morrell is discovered on a rise,
and invites the shepherd Thomalin to come up and join him. The latter
declines with the reflection "that oftentime / great clymbers fall
vnsoft" (July.11-12). Morrell counters with numerous examples of the
spiritual salubrity of the heights, concluding that hilltops are
generally "nigher heuen," but Thomalin derides that pathway to
preferment and cites the example of proud "Algrin," who, sitting one
day atop a hill, was mistaken for a rock, and became the target of an
eagle eager to smash open a shellfish on his "bared scalpe."
In Spenserian pastoral the hill can figure possibilities of poetic
solitude and vision, pre-eminence, even virtue and divinity, as well as
the heroico-courtly milieu of Parnassus. But at the same time, and more
certainly, I think, it betokens hubris, the dangers of earthly
aspiration and of the poetic pretension which leads to Pan's contention
with Apollo. Colin's being averse to heights would seem to be entailed
by his perennial protestations of lowness. At the end of the
although he is conventionally pictured on the most modest of monticles
in the woodcut before "December," he is said to be "in secreate shade
alone" (Dec.5). And indeed, when the courtly "shepheard of the Ocean"
discovers him in
Come Home Againe
he is "Vnder the foote of
that mountaine hore" (l. 57).
"Mole" is part of a shifting imaginative topography, corresponding
perhaps to a cognitive map of the author's purview of the then-present
state of Ireland--a map that warps and weaves rather like the skewed
geography of Nabokov's "Terra" in
The distorted perspective becomes finally like some "Texan's View of
America" in the first of the
Two Cantos of Mutabilitie,
when the poet wields that parenthetical query for the final and most
improbable time as the gods convene to decide the validity of
vpon the highest hights
(who knowes not
That is the highest head (in all mens sights)
Of my old father
whom Shepheards quill
Renowmed hath with hymnes fit for a rurall skill. (7.6.36)
In contrast to the situations in the previous occurrences of this
rhetorical turn, there has been no foregoing intratextual allusion to
"Arlo-hill"--indeed, it is not even mentioned in the passage
Come Home Againe
to which the rest of the stanza alludes.
The name seems only to make much sense--like some idiosyncratic
allusion of Ezra Pound's--if we know
about the vale of Aherlow, in Tipperary, overlooked by Mount Galtymore,
"highest head" in the mountain range (originating around the poet's
habitation of Kilcolman) which he is supposed to have allegorized as "my
old father Mole," since he describes "himself"
(i.e. Colin) as living at its foot in
Come Home Againe.
The landscape around Spenser's estate is there transformed into an
Ovidian myth of adultery "That Shepheard
dearely did condole"
(7.6.40). C. G. Osgood has suggested
that "Arlo-hill" appears "a third time" (?; perhaps he is including the
brief mention of the
l. 96) "as the original of Mount Acidale."
This can be argued because of the topological similarities between the
real Galtymore and the profile of Acidale in Book Six, and becomes more
plausible if one accepts Osgood's "shocking" alternative etymology of
"Acidale" as deriving from Latin
["keen" (vision), "penetrating" (glance)]
and "dale," so that "Acidale"
= "Valley View."
The making of an Acidalian mountain out of an Aherlowian Mole-hill
could be seen as part of the
continental shift whereby epic English Faery
and the pastoral Irish landscape become continuous in the cartography
of a United Kingdom of poetry
symbolized in the Legend of Sir Calidore.
Pastoral is of course put on the Spenserian epic map when Calidore,
in Canto 9, drives the Blatant Beast "into the open fields" (6.9.4).
This may be heard as heralding the collapse of a long-preserved
Spenserian disjunction--the breakdown of the boundaries between epic
action and pastoral contemplation, and perhaps even between life and
art, in an acknowledgment of the discursive continuity of the two
worlds. Colin had been loth to raise his voice in the pastoral world
for fear of incurring envy and violence, but their incursion into
pastoral was foredoomed once even the possibility of permeability was
recognized. The pastoral might claim to be sealed off within a closed
"ego-system" where discursive influence could be figured
intrapoetically as cyclical rains, but the falling tears and the
longing ears were bound at last to be disrupted by the timpanic
thunderclaps which friction, even in the airiest spheres, will
naturally bring about. Since pastoral was always in fact part of the
landscape of discursive action it could not be kept proof from the
verbal influx of Envy, that "eke the verse of famous Poets witt"
backbites, "and spightfull poison spues / From leprous mouth on all,
that euer writt" (1.4.32).
Once it was acknowledged that the Blatant Beast "Ne spareth [...] the
gentle Poets rime" (6.12.40), Colin's low profile was no longer an
effective defense. With the Beast loose in the pastoral landscape, there
was indeed no place for Colin to go but up that hill. Calidore, who may
partially figure Sir Philip Sidney in his semi-successful maneuvering
between the courtly and the poetic world, seems to be responsible for
the risk of contamination of the pastoral landscape into which he
chases the Beast. His foray into the pastoral domain implies the
annexation of that domain by the imperial world of courtliness, but
this does not, of course, eventually take place in the Spenserian text
without a "counter-Colinization" of Faery by the subjected realm of the
When the two spheres are levelled out onto a shared plain, the
prominence of the poet's vocation is thus
expressly realized for the first
time. There may be something of a scene of recognition on Mount Acidale
as the poet at last acknowledges the "trinal triplicities"
(Hymne of Heauenly Loue,
64) of his high Colin. The materialistic notion of the hill being
"nigher heuen" and the dubious confusion of the Mount of Olives and
Parnassus in the hircine Morrell's sophistries of "July" had meanwhile
been purified in the attempt to approximate the Mount of Contemplation
in Book One. It is like Mount Sinai, Mosaic resort of lawful thunder,
Or like that sacred hill, whose head full hie,
Adornd with fruitfull Oliues all arownd,
Is, as it were for endlesse memory
Of that deare Lord, who oft thereon was fownd,
For euer with a flowring girlond crownd:
Or like that pleasaunt Mount, that is for ay
Through famous Poets verse each where renownd,
On which the thrise three learned Ladies play
Their heauenly notes, and make full many a louely lay. (1.10.54)
That hill is a site of vision for Redcrosse in Book One, but in Book
Six Calidore on Acidale is not content with seeing; scopophilia turns
compulsively to epistemophilia, and he futilely tries to
a group of figures that can only be seen, never known. In the center of
them is Colin, piping to his colleen--for he has her there at last,
even if she still cannot be "known," even by him--and to those three
graces who "to men all gifts of grace do graunt" (6.10.15) into whom
"the thrise three learned Ladies" of Book One seem to have collapsed.
But this is not the Mount of Contemplation, and the Parnassian Olivet
of Acidale is also a place of "delight" (184.108.40.206; 11.9; 15.1), a
albeit not one where "franckly each paramour his leman knowes"
(3.6.41). The misknowable knoll seems to take its name from one of the
surnames of Venus, or from a fountain devoted to her and to the graces,
and the name additionally suggests not only Greek
"free from care"
but also Latin
the sin of sloth.
James Nohrnberg has paralleled the three Graces on Acidale with the
three goddesses among whom Paris must choose on Mount Ida:
In Calidore's sojourn among the shepherds, the necessity is felt of the
hero's choosing between the active and the contemplative life [...].
The courting of Pastorella argues for the presence of a third
alternative, a life of pleasure. According to a tradition deriving from
Fulgentius, Paris, in choosing between the beauties of the three
goddesses, passed judgment on the same three lives.
The goddesses' favors show this: Venus offered Helen, or any woman,
i.e., sensual gratification; Juno offered power, or wealth in the
medieval tradition; Minerva offered prowess, or, in the medieval
tradition, wisdom. In the seventy-fourth
sonnet Spenser ascribes his life to three women: his mother, his
sovereign, and his wife. They have given him "guifts of body, fortune
and of mind." These ought to be the gifts of the three goddesses, but
in fact Spenser calls his benefactors the three graces. Conversely,
Colin called the Graces "goddesses all three" [6.10.22] [...].
Calidore makes his choice, but for Colin no choice is required, just as
he need not choose between the rival mistresses of poetry, Venus and
living woman, or between the homonymous Elizabeth-an trinity of mother,
queen, and wife.
His position on top of Mount Acidale and his poetic vocation entail
not only action and contemplation, but also pleasure. It may be that in
climbing "vertues sacred hill" he wishes at last to identify himself
with that Pan the god of shepherds all who strove with Apollo in the
confrontation between Christian and Classical values in Elizabethan
England, but there is still another "god of shepherds" with whom Colin
Clout was associated by E.K. the very first time he was mentioned in
the Spenserian text:
VNCOUTHE, VNKISTE, Sayde the olde famous Poete Chaucer [...] whom our
Colin clout in his |glogue calleth Tityrus the God of shepheards,
to the worthines of the Roman Tityrus Virgile. Which prouerbe, myne owne
good friend Ma. Haruey, as in that good old Poete it serued well
Pandares purpose, for the bolstering of his baudy brocage, so very well
taketh place in this our new Poete, who for that he is vncouthe (as
said Chaucer) is vnkist, and vnknowen to most men, is regarded but of
few. But I dout not, so soone as his name shall come into the knowledg
of men, and his worthines be sounded in the tromp of fame, but that he
shall be not onely kiste, but also beloued of all, embraced of the
most, and wondred at of the best. (Ded. Ep.)
The two "gods" might well come together on Mount Acidale, Colin
recognizing himself at last, perhaps, as the successful embodiment of
the myth that comes of the conflation of the Panic and Tityrian
responses to "poetic desire," the myth eventually euhemerized in the
daydream of the Freudian creative writer: "he has thus achieved
his phantasy what originally he had achieved only
his phantasy--honour, power and the love of women."
But perhaps, after all, these is no such moment of self-recognition
on Acidale. The poetic refusal to know and tell all which is figured in
Colin's declining to let Calidore have knowledge of his mistress may
help certify the self's inability to situate itself, and to close
itself down or finally cohere in univocation, so that there is at least
sure answer to that nagging dilemma, "who knowes not
Colin may after all or in the end have been an attempt by the poet to
name himself and in naming himself to know himself and re-appropriate
that self in the text. Unknown, unkissed, as the Pandare of Chaucer had
pointed out; but the project of knowing
may be as problematic precisely as that of kissing oneself.
Mikhail Bakhtin has written of the cognitive necessity of a position
of "outsideness." To know someone one must be located outside of that
person. No attempt to split oneself into a subject and object or an
author and a character can grant one the relationship of genuine
alterity with regard to oneself that belongs to another. Bakhtin talks
of "rhythm," that heartbeat of life that makes the contours of each of
our selves unique but whose cadence we cannot ourselves hear. Only an
other can embrace us and make us whole and
by enveloping us in his or her own rhythm. "Personality" is perhaps the
resulting syncopation: "Rhythm is an embrace and kiss of value given to
the condensed temporality of the mortal life of another."
Only another can know who I am, as only another can kiss me. But as
Bakhtin himself failed to recognize, this gesture can be the tender
embrace which leads to having knowledge of the other or the kiss which
betrays who we take that other to be.
So if I leave "Poore
as I found him, still "uncouth" and "unkissed" midst those dancers on
Mount Acidale, I do not necessarily betray him. He does not necessarily
wish to be
but perhaps only to be seen, suddenly jutting up, as
in the most likely etymology of "Acidale."
For knowledge here is an impertinence, the more so because there
of course, no shepherd-piper, no gracious fourth dancer, and thus no
place even for the posing of that other twice-strained rhetorical
question: how can we know the dancer from the dance?
All references to Spenser's works will follow the readings and
lineation adopted in
Works: A Variorum Edition,
ed. E. A. Greenlaw
11 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1932-1957).
Poetical works will be cited parenthetically within the text.
Cf. Gerald Snare, "Spenser's Fourth Grace,"
Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
34 (1971), 350-55; "The Poetics of Vision: Patterns of Grace and
The Faerie Queene,
See James Nohrnberg,
The Analogy of
The Faerie Queene (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), xi.
(Paris: Seuil, 1970), 102.
Alfred Harbage, "Shakespeare's Audience: Modern Appraisals,"
Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism,
ed. L. F. Dean (New York: Oxford, 1967), 3.
The Complete English Poems,
ed. John Scattergood (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 267.
Robert Kinsman, "Skelton's
the Mask of Vox Populi,"
University of California Publications, English Studies
I (1950), 17-26.
"The Voices of Dissonance: Pattern in Skelton's
Colyn Cloute," Huntington Library Quarterly
26 (1963), 291-313.
Kinsman, "Voices of Dissonance," 21; cf. Skelton,
Poems, 35-36; 268.
Kinsman might have noted a further occurrence of the name Colin Clout,
coming between Skelton and Spenser, and apparently not previously
noticed or considered of interest
by the students of either poet, in an opuscule
The treatyse answerynge the boke of the berdes, compyled by Collyn
Clowte, dedicated to Barnard barber dwellynge in Banbery.
This is a short pamphlet, mostly in verse, that was printed by Robert
Wyer sometime in the 1540s, and purports to be a rejoinder or
supplement to a (now lost) "treatyse of doctor Borde vpon Berdes."
Andrew Boorde was a noted "Doctor of Physic" and the cosmopolitan
author or "compiler" of numerous works combining practical advice on
medecine and hygiene,
and a fair helping of jollity.
The nature of his book on beards can only be conjectured from the
answers which have survived: that of "Collyn Clowte" (which from
the back page seems actually to have been by someone called Barnes)
John Byrch Clerke, to the ryght excellent Doctor in Phisike
(J. Redman for R. Bankes, ca. 1540), a fragment of which survives as
a pastedown in a volume held by All Soul's College, Oxford.
Both answers are rather raucous, but Collyn Clowte's is particularly
nasty, accusing Boorde of having written against beards because he had
vomitted into his own when drunk, and generally chiding with crudity
and jocularity and none of the moral stridency of Skelton's figure.
Spenser obviously knew Skelton's work, and seems to have been more
conversant with lively lowbrow literature than a reading of his
published works (or those of his critics) might suggest. One may recall
the note made in a copy of
his sometime friend and correspondent, Gabriel Harvey
records having received that book along "with Skoggin, Skelton, &
Lazarillo" from "Mr Spensar xx. Decembris, 1578" (see Virginia F. Stern,
Gabriel Harvey: His Life, Library and Marginalia
, 49; 228).
466; E. G. Withycombe, ed.
The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names,
3rd. ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 71; Helen Cooper,
Pastoral: Mediaeval into Renaissance
(Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977),
230, n. 27.
See Clément Marot,
ed. C. A. Mayer (London: Athlone Press, 1964), 322 n.
See Alice Hulubei,
L'Eglogue en France au XVIe siècle
(Paris: Droz, 1938), 211; C. A. Mayer,
(Paris: A.-G. Nizet, 1972), 200.
E.g. C. H. Herford, ed.,
The Shepheardes Calender
(London: MacMillan & Co., 1907), 92; W. L.
The Shepherd's Calendar,
(London: Scholartis Press, 1930), 221.
E.g. Annabel Patterson, "Re-opening the Green Cabinet: Clément Marot
and Edmund Spenser,"
English Literary Renaissance
16 (1986), 50.
The unequivocal locus is the
Eclogue de Marot au Roy, soubz les noms de Pan & Robin
(1539), the model for Spenser's "December." But as Mayer
343 n. 1), François I had already been figured as Pan before Marot
wrote this first eclogue, not only by Guillaume Crétin in a verse
epistle from 1515, but even by the poet's own father, Jean Marot, as is
suggested in Robin-Marot's reminiscences in the
Eclogue de Marot au Roy.
"Poétique de l'églogue chez Marot,"
Nouvelle revue de XVIe siècle,
5 (1987), 79-93.
Paul McLane, "Skelton's
Shepheardes Calender," Studies in Philology
70 (1973), 143.
A Study in Elizabethan Allegory
(Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1961),
McLane's anagram will be seen actually to resolve back into "Resalinge,"
though by taking the "land" rather than the "Eng" out of England
one might at least arrive at "Resallinda." Could one get better results
from Puttenham's much-fiddled
"Elissabet Anglorum Regina"
(The Arte of English Poesie,
ed. Gladys Dodge Willock and Alice Walker [Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1936], 110)?
The partial anagram was, of course, (unless our delusion is complete)
the darling of Elizabethan veiled reference, but one cannot help
feeling that the young Leopold Bloom could have provided other, more
elegant, solutions to the puzzle--a roster topped by "Nora! 'Slid!"
and perhaps bottomed by "Dr. Alon(zo), S. J."
vol. 10, 471.
Paul Alpers, "Pastoral and the Domain of Lyric in Spenser's
12 (1985), 97.
Donald Cheney, "Spenser's Fortieth Birthday and Related Fictions,"
An Interpretation of Spenser's "Colin Clout"
(Cork: Cork University Press, 1969), 6.
Harry Berger, Jr., "Orpheus, Pan, and the Poetics of Misogyny:
Spenser's Critique of Pastoral Love and Art,"
Cf. David Shore,
"Colin and Rosalind: Love and Poetry in the
Shepheardes Calender," Studies in Philology
73 (1976), 176; this is the only serious recent account apart from
Steven F. Walker, "'Poetry is/in not a cure for love': The Conflict of
Theocritean and Petrarchan
The Shepheardes Calender," Studies in Philology
Isabel G. MacCaffrey,
"Allegory and Pastoral in
The Shepheardes Calender," ELH
36 (1969), 103.
(Paris: Seuil, 1966), 254.
Walker, "'Poetry is/is not a cure for love,'" 353.
Shore, "Colin and Rosalind," 184.
"Colin and Rosalind,"
Walter Benjamin, "Der Erzähler,"
ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Scweppenhäuser
(Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1977), 458.
Louis Adrian Montrose,
"'The perfecte paterne of a Poete': The Poetics of Courtship in
The Shepheardes Calender," Texas Studies in Literature and
21 (1979), 55.
Cf. Montrose, "'The perfecte paterne of a Poete,'"
David L. Miller, "Authorship, Anonymity and
The Shepheardes Calender," Studies in Philology
70 (1979), 230; cf. Patrick Cullen,
Spenser, Marvell, and Renaissance Pastoral
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970),
Miller, "Authorship," 233.
Montrose, "'The perfecte paterne of a Poete,'" 39.
Classical Mythology in the Poetry of Edmund Spenser
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1932), 97.
Montrose, "'The perfecte paterne of a Poete,'" 62.
Berger, "Orpheus," 27.
Berger, "Mode and Diction in
The Shepheardes Calender," Modern Philology
Das Prinzip Hoffnung
(Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985), 1382.
Berger, "Mode and Diction," 140; 142.
Some Versions of Pastoral
(London: Chatto & Windus, 1935), 23.
Miller, "Authorship," 221.
Thomas H. Cain, "Spenser and the Renaissance Orpheus,"
University of Toronto Quarterly
41 (1971), 30.
Louis A. Mackey,
Kierkegaard: A Kind of Poet
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), 247.
Kierkegaard: Konstruktion des Aesthetischen
(Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1962), 23.
Miller, "Authorship," 220.
Nouveau discours du récit
(Paris: Seuil, 1983), 93ff.
Foure Letters, Works,
ed. Alexander B. Grosart (London: Huth Library, 1884), 1:180;
Strange Newes, Works,
ed. R. B. McKerrow, rev. ed. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958), 1:295;
Nashe, Ibid., 1:283; Mother Hubbard: Harvey,
1:164, 205?; Nashe,
It would take a prohibitive amount of space to document the assertion,
but perhaps I can simply be permitted to make a deposition to the
of the 28 mentions of Colin (of which I am aware)
by writers other than Spenser
between the publication of the
and the poet's death
I consider only five to refer to the character or persona
without also referring to the author, and 19, in my view, refer
to the author.
vol. 7, 10; 93.
vol. 10, 471; the latter of the works mentioned is a lost text also
mentioned in E.K.'s dedicatory epistle and in the gloss to "November."
Cf. C. R. Baskervill,
"The Early Fame of
The Shepheardes Calender," PMLA
28 (1913), 309.
Elizabethan Critical Essays,
ed. G. Gregory Smith
(Oxford: Clarendon Pres, 1904), 1:276; 286.
The Araygnement of Paris,
ed. R. Mark Benbow,
The Dramatic Works of George Peele,
(New Haven: Yale, 1970), 85; 86.
vol. 3, 186.
The Works of Michael Drayton,
ed. J. W. Hebel
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1961), 1:55.
The Complete Works of Thomas Lodge,
ed. Edmund Gosse
(Glasgow: Huntlerian Club, 1883), vol. 2, no. 5, p. 6.
The Affectionate Shepherd
Some Longer Elizabethan Poems,
ed. A. H. Bullen
(Westminster: Archibald Constable, 1903), 177.
Cephalus and Procris
(London: J. Wolfe, 1595), D2v.; H3v..
Sir John Davies,
Orchestra, or a Poem of Dauncing
The Poems of Sir John Davies,
ed. Robert Krueger (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 124.
Some Longer Elizabethan Poems,
The Poems of William Smith,
ed. Lawrence A. Sasek (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1970), 35; 87.
The Scourge of Villainy
The Poems of John Marston,
ed. A. Davenport
(Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 1961), 106.
vol. 10, 470.
A name possibly picked up from the Ovidian story of Ceyx and Alcyone
retold in the early part of Spenser's Chaucerian model,
The Boke of the Duchess.
But it might be noted how close "Alcyon" is to an anagram of "Colyn."
Cf. "Alcon" in
Colin Clouts Come Home Againe
(l. 394), and the dialgoue by Bryskett published with the latter poem
in which "Astrophel's" death is lamented by "Colin" and "Lycon."
But then such quasi-anagrams are no doubt merely fortuitous. Indeed,
it would not take much to turn "Alcon" into "McLane."
Curiously, both poems are in the same metre, the relevant passages open
with parallel constructions, and--most fantastically--each mention
of Colin comes in the thirty-third stanza
of the poem in
(ll. 225-31 in both cases),
a correlation with which an Alastair Fowler might possibly be
able to do something.
vol. 8, 194.
An Interpretation of Spenser's "Colin Clout,"
"The Chaucerian Narrator in Spenser's
Shepheardes Calender," Southern Quarterly
12 (1974), 192.
An Interpretation of Spenser's "Colin Clout,"
Nouveau discours du récit,
Otobiographies: L'enseignement de Nietzsche et la politique
du nom propre
(Paris: Galilée, 1984), 56-57; 107-08; etc.
Daphnaïda and Other Poems,
ed. W. L. Renwick (London: Scholartis Press, 1929), 177.
Nouveau discours du récit,
An Interpretation of Spenser's "Colin Clout,"
127; my emphasis.
A Commentary on Book Six of Spenser's
The Faerie Queene,
Ph.D. dissertation, Edinburgh, 1986, 270.
P. W. Joyce, cited in the
vol. 6, 284.
vol. 6, 285.
The Faerie Queene,
ed. A. C. Hamilton (London: Longman, 1977), 689.
ed. W. L. Renwick (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), 202.
The Poetry of Edmund Spenser: A Study
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1962), 293.
The Analogy of
The Faerie Queene,
Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis,
The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund
tr. and ed. by James Strachey
(London: Hogarth Press, 1963), 16:367-68.
Estetika slovesnogo tvorchestva
(Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1979), 106.