October 1 Edmund Spenser

Then came October full of merry glee;
For yet his noul was totty of the must,
Which he was treading in the wine-fats‘sea,
And of the joyous oil, whose gentle gust
Made him so frolick and so full of lust:
Upon a dreadful Scorpion he did ride,
The same which by Diana’s doom unjust
Slew great Orion; and eek by his side
He had his ploughing-share and coulter ready tied.

Orion was a great hunter, and his death was sometimes attributed to Diana, the huntress goddess, and sometimes to the Earth, who, resenting his boasting that he would kill all living creatures in Crete, produced a scorpion whose sting caused his death; Spenser, using Scorpio as the constellation appropriate to this month, seems here to have combined the two stories. ‘For yet his noul was totty of the must’, a truly memorable line, meaning that his head was still somewhat tipsy with the new wine which his feet had been treading in the wine-vats.

Next: From Antony and Cleopatra William Shakespeare