‘Spring, the sweet spring’ by Thomas Nashe

At the very beginning of spring, in this post I’d like to share with you a poem by Thomas Nashe, a prominent English poet and playwright of the Elizabethan era. Titled ‘Spring, the sweet spring’ after its first and final lines, the poem celebrates the loveliness and joyful nature of the season. It actually comes from one of his plays, the comedy Summer’s Last Will and Testament.

Thomas Nashe (1567–1601)

Nashe exposes us to a series of pastoral images featuring dancing young women, shepherds playing music, plants and animals thriving… And, of course, birds singing everywhere you go.

I hope you like this one! If you want to practise some vocabulary or learn more about Nashe, scroll down below the poem for more resources. And do leave a comment, if you feel like it.

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!
Spring, the sweet spring!


  1. Match the following definitions with the nouns found in the poem:
  • a person who takes care of sheep
  • a young sheep
  • a flower, mainly with white petals and yellow centre (see the cover image above)
  • a young woman
  • an old woman (archaic)
  1. Find the verbs in the poem with the following meaning:
  • to dance, leap and skip; frolic
  • to welcome someone
  • to play music on a small tubular instrument
  • to prick, to pierce the skin with a sharp, pointed part
  • to produce flowers

To check your answers, please click here.


Characteristics of the Elizabethan Literature – an 1867 Atlantic article by E. P. Whipple

Spring, the sweet spring – detailed poem analysis

Thomas Nashe – an Encyclopaedia Britannica entry

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