20 March 2006
Around six months ago, the phrase "go little book" came into my head in connection with something that I've completely forgotten now. And I said to myself, "Where did that phrase come from?" So I did what any person of education and sense would do: I Googled it. And came up with nothing conclusive. I suspected that there might be a spelling variation involved, but wasn't ambitious enough to try possible variations until I found one that clicked. Fast forward to this evening, when I'm reading Frank McGuinness's play Mutabilitie. Since Edmund Spenser is one of the main characters, I bust out my old Norton Anthology to read Spenser's bio. (OK, I actually went to wikipedia first, but their entry was a little thin. In fact, I ended up adding something to it.) I also suspect that some of McGuinness's script might be taken from Spenser's writing, and have made a mental note to look up The Shepheardes Calender. As I finish reading the Norton bio, I notice that The Shepheardes Calender is on the facing page, so I start reading. The opening line? "Goe little booke: thy selfe present." Not only that, it's got a footnote indicating that this is an homage to Chaucer's line from Troilus and Criseyde, "Go, litel bok, go litel myn tragedye." I was in the right ballpark, timewise, as I had connected it vaguely in my mind with Sidney. But Edmund Spenser, of all things. I would never have remembered that on my own.