"Every Shepherd Tells His Tale Under The Hawthorne In The Dale"

Context: John Milton tells how he walks through the countryside in the early morning when the sun, dressed in flames and amber light, colors the clouds with a thousand hues. The plowman whistles as he strides over the furrows, the milkmaid sings as she goes about her work, and the mower whets his scythe in preparation for a day's work. As everyone begins the new day, every shepherd tells his tale under the hawthorne tree in the valley, but whether Milton means that every shepherd sits under a tree and tells stories early in the morning or that every shepherd counts his sheep, is a matter of some disagreement; the latter interpretation seems the sounder. The full passage is as follows:

Sometime walking not unseen
By hedgerow elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great sun begins his state,
Robed in flames and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the plowman near at hand,
Whistle o'er the furrowed land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorne in the dale.