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The Key to Enjoying a Healthy Summer: Some Advice from 1579

Daniel Esparza - published on 06/14/16

One helpful tip from Edmund Spenser: "In this time is nothing grievouser than chafing."

The Shepheardes Calender is divided in twelve eclogues — one corresponding to each month of the year, as anyone might expect from a calendar — and it was Edmund Spenser’s first major poetic work. The opening lines of each chapter describe the corresponding month and the changing of seasons. Published in 1579, it is an emulation of Virgil’s Eclogues: not only the title, but the entire work, was deliberately written with an abundance of archaic spellings, seeking to suggest a connection to medieval literature, and to Chaucer in particular.

So, now that summer seems to be finally here, we want to share with you Spenser’s advice for the season, so you know what to do (the spelling is Spenser’s own):

“The regiment for the time of Summer, June, July, and August. The shepheards in summer been clothed with light gowns and single, their shirts and sheets that they ly in be linnen, for of all cloath it is the coldest… and they eat light meats, as Chickens with veriuyce, young Hares, Rabbets, Lettise, Purselain, Melons, Gowrds, Cucumbers, Peares, Plumbs… They drink oft fresh water when they be thirsty, save only at dinner and supper time, and then they do drink feebl green Wine, single Beer, or small Ale. Also they keep them from over great travell, or over forcing themselves, for in this time is nothing grievouser than chafing. In this season they eschue the company of women, and they bathe them oft in cold water to asswage the heat of their bodies enforced by labours. Alway they have with them sugarcandy or other Sugar whereof they take little and often.”

If you’re wondering, veriuyce — the recommended sauce for chicken served in summer — is a sour concoction made from unripe grapes or crabapple juice.

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