Aprill and November
in The early Spenser, 1554–80
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Chapter 7 contextualizes the relationship between events occurring in 1579–780, such as the publication of John Stubbs’s Gaping Gulf and the Shepheardes Calender. This political discussion serves as the background for close readings of the Aprill and November eclogues. Spenser’s Aprill has been described as an early offering in the cult of Elizabeth, but he undercuts his eulogy to Elizabeth in Aprill by ironic mythological references to Niobe. Rather than making use of the story of Astraea, the just maid, who ushers in a golden age, Spenser turns his back on the symbolism that would identify Elizabeth with Augustus and a golden age. In a close reading of the November eclogue, using Vergil’s Eclogues, Brink shows that this eclogue, like Virgil’s elegy on Julius Caesar, points to the possibility that Elizabeth’s death will lead to civil war. The November eclogue, instead of triumphantly commemorating Elizabeth’s accession to the throne on 17 November, becomes a dirge.

The early Spenser, 1554–80

‘Minde on honour fixed’

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