London: printed by Thomas Creede for VVilliam Ponsonbie, 1595.
Quarto: 18 x 13 cm.  p. Signatures: A-K4
FIRST EDITION. The colophon reads: “London Printed by T.C. for William Ponsonbie. 1595.”
A wonderful copy bound in fine early 20th c. burgundy morocco by Riviere & Sons. Very nice internally, the last leaf carefully washed. With a woodcut printer’s device (McKerrow 299) and decorative border to the title page, and numerous head- and tailpieces throughout. A lovely copy of the first edition. This copy has the second state of sheet C, with the reading "worthily" on C1r, line 24.
With a dedicatory epistle to “The Right worthy and noble Knight Sir Walter Raleigh” dated “from my house of Kilcolman, the 27. Of December. 1591.” In addition to “Colin Clout”, this volume also includes Spenser’s “Astrophel: A pastorall Elegie upon the death of the most Noble and valorous Knight, Sir Phillip Sidney” (dedicated to Sidney’s widow, who had by then become the Countess of Essex); An untitled poem beginning “Ay me, to whom shall I complaine…” often referred to as “The dolefull lay of Corinda”; “The mourning Muse of Thestylis” (by Ludowick Bryskett); “A pastorall Aeglogue upon the death of Sir Phillip Sidney Knight” signed L.B. (Ludowick Bryskett); “An Elegie, or friends passion for his Astrophill” (by Matthew Roydon); “An Epitaph upon the right honourable sir Phillip Sidney Knight: Lord governor of Flushing” (by Walter Raleigh); “Another of the Same” (almost certainly by Sir Edward Dyer).
Spenser wrote “Colin Clout’s Come Home Again” at Kilcolman castle, the home he built in Munster, after his return to Ireland following a visit to England. It is a pastoral poem depicting the landscape, people and natural resources of Ireland, albeit from a colonizer’s perspective.
Spenser began living in Ireland in 1580 after receiving an appointment to serve Arthur Grey, the Lord Deputy. In 1582 Grey was recalled to England and, rather than follow his mentor, Spenser secured an appointment in Ireland in the office of controller of customs on wines, where he remained for several years.
Ireland was appealing to Spenser because of the economic opportunities and intellectual freedom at a post so far from court. “While it is conceivable that the patronage system might have afforded Spenser opportunities in England, it could not assure him financial security. His decision to stay in Ireland, rather than to return to England in 1582, suggests that he thought Ireland offered him a better prospect of providing for his family and of finding time and means to write the Faerie Queene” (Brink 446).
“When Spenser signed his dedication ‘from my house of Kilcolman,’ it was not an indication that he was ‘merely housed’ in Ireland. Establishing a ‘house’ of his own was in his mind when he wrote ‘Colin Clouts Come Home Againe’ . . . and only in Ireland was it possible for Spenser to establish a “house” that could be passed on to his sons, Sylvanus and Peregrine. Ireland had become Edmund Spenser’s home” (456).
“Colin Clouts’, a pastoral poem in the tradition of Petrarch, was inspired by the poet’s visit to England from 1590 to 1591, a journey undertaken at the urging of Walter Raleigh. Spenser wrote the poem, dedicated to Raleigh, upon his return to Kilcolman castle in Ireland.
“Colin Clouts’ (is) gaining increased attention for its colonial Irish characteristics as well as for its role in idolizing the Tudor state and its poet-servants who write and fight for it. Colin is driven by an erotic idea of Queen Elizabeth enlarging the domain of his ‘shepheards nation’, as he calls it. This national-authorial expansion occurs at the expense of both the native Irish and Old (Catholic) English inhabitants” (Herron 89-90). “This desire for a unified, re-conquered Ireland imagined these pacified and anglicized mongrel “nations” subsumed into a “realm” governed by an English monarch. Such desire arguably undergirds the politics of Spenser’s later poetry, including “Colin Clouts” (Herron 96).
“Colin’s hacked and hackneyed praise of the Queen blurs into a legal declaration of claim to the land on the Queen’s behalf, not just the land, but the trees in particular. These were a major commodity in Ireland and especially Munster. Timber was hotly contested by both settlers and natives, no more so than by Spenser and his aristocratic neighbor Lord Roche. In February 1594, a year before the publication of ‘Colin Clouts’, Roche accused Spenser of “disseising” (or appropriating) his lands, timber and corn. Colin’s proprietary naming of the trees in Munster on behalf of the Queen takes on a secondary significance in light of Spenser’s own territorial encroachments on Roche’s stock of woods (102).
“Colin carves the Queen’s name in large letters in the landscape, with the added significance of laying legal claim to that land, before he fills that proprietary trench with “stones” that spell out her name. Since a “stone” is also a pit, or seed, of a fleshy fruit [such as cherries and plums, which grow on trees, or grapes (cf. 600-604)], the image of planted and renewed fertility is subtly reinforced: Colin states, “as the trees do grow, her name may grow,” and, thus, the Queen’s name and authority is “renewed” through his words carved and planted in Munster” (104).
Ashley V, 194; Pforzheimer 967; STC 23077