The Shepheardes Calender

by Edmund Spenser

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Shepheardes Calender is Edmund Spenser's first major work of poetry. It mirrors the style of the Classical epic poet Virgil, broken down into a series of twelve eclogues for each month of the calendar year. Each month has a different speaker, and each speaker is generally a shepherd or other commoner figure who ruminates on pastoral life. The poem begins with the complaint of a shepherd boy named Colin Clout, who is the poetic embodiment of Spenser's predecessor Chaucer. Each following section places a satirical lens on the conventions of Medieval Europe, shifting through formal and informal poetic structures including a singing contest, a panegyric, an apostrophic hymn to the god of the wild (Pan), and a dirge (funeral song). The poem ends with the return of Clout, completing the Chaucerian frame and ending Spenser's poetical survey of rustic European history.

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