Thou ’ginst as erst
forget thy former state,
And range amid the busks thyself to feed:
Fair fall thee, little flock! both rathe and late;
Was never lover’s sheep that well did speed.
Thou free, I bound; thou glad, I pine in pain;
I strive to die, and thou to live full fain.
The first of these poems is a monologue ‘entitled Cuddy,’ modelled on the January eclogue. The second is a lament ’made long since upon the death of Sir Philip Sidney,’ in which the writer wonders at Colin’s silence, and which consequently must, at least, date from before the appearance of Astrophel in 1595, and is probably some years earlier. It is in the form of a dialogue between two shepherds, one of whom sings Cuddy’s lament in lyrical stanzas, thus recalling Spenser’s ‘November.’ These stanzas do not reveal any great metrical gift. The last poem is a fragment ’concerning old age,’ which connects itself by its theme with the February eclogue, though the form is stanzaic. Again we find mention of Cuddy, a name evidently assumed by the author, though whether he can be identified with the Cuddie of the Calender it is impossible to say. Whoever he was, he shows more disposition than most of his fellow imitators to preserve Spenser’s archaisms.
But undoubtedly the greatest poet who was content to follow immediately in Spenser’s footsteps was Michael Drayton, who in 1593 published a volume entitled ’Idea The Shepheards Garland, Fashioned in nine Eglogs. Rowlands Sacrifice to the nine Muses.’ This connexion between the number of the eclogues and the muses is purely fanciful; Rowland is Drayton’s pastoral name, and Idea, which re-appeared as the title of the 1594 volume of sonnets, is that of his poetic mistress. It can hardly be said that the verse of these poems attains any very high order of merit, but the imitation of Spenser is evident throughout. In the first eclogue Rowland bewails, in the midst of spring, ‘the winter of his grief.’ In this and the corresponding monologue at the end he clearly follows Spenser’s arrangement and likewise adopts his minor key—