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Book VI, Canto IX

July 22, 2011

Spenser returns to Calidore, whom we left in Canto III. He has been hunting the Blatant Beast this whole time, “through hils, through dales, throgh forests, & throgh plaines”. One day, in sheep country, he comes to a group of shepherds playing their pipes. Calidore asks them if they have seen the Beast. They say no, but offer him food and drink. He sits down with them and notices a beautiful girl named Pastorella. He falls for her, but she cares for no one, not even the shepherd Coridon who loves her most of all.

Later that evening Pastorella’s father, Meliboe, shows up to let her know it’s time to take the sheep home. Spenser informs us that Meliboe is not really her father – he found Pastorella abandoned as a baby and took her in. Coridon and Calidore go with her, Coridon helping her drive the flock. When Meliboe sees that Calidore is alone he invites him in. As they eat dinner they discourse about the happy, easy lives that these peasant shepherds lead. Meliboe affirms that while he has few earthly goods, he has lots of leisure time. Over the course of the evening Calidore becomes obsessed with the simple life and obsessed with Pastorella. He offers Meliboe gold in exchange for living with him, which Meliboe refuses, but he is welcomed to stay.

As Calidore tries to woo Pastorella in the knightly way, he discovers that she knows nothing of court and prefers music and the way of her people. He switches out his armor for shepherd weeds and learns to tend the sheep. Coridon notices his efforts and grows jealous, but Calidore is so kind and courteous to him that “euen they, the which his riuals were, / Could not maligne him, but commend him needs: / For courtesie amongst the rudest breeds / Good will and fauour.”

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