“becomes almost an allegorical figure for ‘lifes wretchednesse,’ a
projection of our own—and the narrator’s—fear” (“Idolatrous idylls,” 140).
light of this ambiguity, a reader might employ reading strategies developed through encountering the personifications in The Faerie Queene.
Such a reader would look for iconographic details that might help
identify the figure and would also notice descriptive words that convey
evaluative information. The figure wears black and carries a “Jaakob
remained in prison from March 20 through July 26, 1614
(O’Callaghan, Shepheards Nation, 173). Two important events occurred
during Wither’s imprisonment: the publication of Shepherds Pipe and the
death of Northampton on June 15. Wither’s contributions to Shepherds
Pipe represent a conciliatory gesture, an attempt to soften Wither’s authorial persona and to downplay the offense of Abuses, presumably in order
to secure his release from prison. The death of Northampton, however,
leads to an about-face in Wither’s strategies of authorial self-fashioning,