MINOR POEMS OF MICHAEL DRAYTON
CHOSEN AND EDITED BY CYRIL BRETT
OXFORD AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 1907
Henry Frowde, M.A. Publisher to the University of Oxford London, Edinburgh, New York and Toronto
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE iv
SONNETS (1594) 1
SONNETS (1599) 28
SONNETS (1602) 42
SONNETS (1605) 47
SONNETS (1619) 51
ODES (1619) 56
ODES (1606) 85
ELEGIES (1627) 88
NIMPHIDIA (1627) 124
THE QUEST OF CYNTHIA 144
THE SHEPARDS SIRENA 151
THE MUSES ELIZIUM (1630) 161
SONGS FROM THE SHEPHERD'S GARLAND (1593) 231
SONGS FROM THE SHEPHERD'S GARLAND (1605) 240
SONGS FROM THE SHEPHERD'S GARLAND (1606) 242
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF DRAYTON'S LIFE AND WORKS
1563 Drayton born at Hartshill, Warwickshire.
1572? Drayton a page in the house of Sir Henry Goodere, at Polesworth.
c. 1574 Anne Goodere born?
Feb. 1591 Drayton in London. Harmony of Church.
1593 Idea, the Shepherd's Garland. Legend of Peirs Gaveston.
1594 Ideas Mirrour. Matilda. Lucy Harrington becomes Countess of Bedford.
1595 Sir Henry Goodere the elder dies. Endimion and Phoebe, dedicated to Lucy Bedford.
1595-6 Anne Goodere married to Sir Henry Rainsford.
1596 Mortimeriados. Legends of Robert, Matilda, and Gaveston.
1597 England's Heroical Epistles.
1598 Drayton already at work on the Polyolbion.
1599 Epistles and Idea sonnets, new edition. (Date of Portrait of Drayton in National Portrait Gallery.)
1600 Sir John Oldcastle.
1602 New edition of Epistles and Idea.
1603 Drayton made an Esquire of the Bath, to Sir Walter Aston. To the Maiestie of King James. Barons' Wars.
1604 The Owle. A Pean Triumphall. Moyses in a Map of his Miracles.
1605 First collected edition of Poems. Another edition of Idea and Epistles.
1606 Poemes Lyrick and Pastorall. Odes. Eglogs. The Man in the Moone.
1607 Legend of Great Cromwell.
1608 Reprint of Collected Poems.
1609 Another edition of Cromwell.
1610 Reprint of Collected Poems.
1613 Reprint of Collected Poems. First Part of Polyolbion.
1618 Two Elegies in FitzGeoffrey's Satyrs and Epigrames.
1619 Collected Folio edition of Poems.
1620 Second edition of Elegies, and reprint of 1619 Poems.
1622 Polyolbion complete.
1627 Battle of Agincourt, Nymphidia, &c.
1630 Muses Elizium. Noah's Floud. Moses his Birth and Miracles. David and Goliah.
1631 Second edition of 1627 folio. Drayton dies towards the end of the year.
1636 Posthumous poem appeared in Annalia Dubrensia.
Michael Drayton was born in 1563, at Hartshill, near Atherstone, in Warwickshire, where a cottage, said to have been his, is still shown. He early became a page to Sir Henry Goodere, at Polesworth Hall: his own words give the best picture of his early years here. His education would seem to have been good, but ordinary; and it is very doubtful if he ever went to a university. Besides the authors mentioned in the Epistle to Henry Reynolds, he was certainly familiar with Ovid and Horace, and possibly with Catullus: while there seems no reason to doubt that he read Greek, though it is quite true that his references to Greek authors do not prove any first-hand acquaintance. He understood French, and read Rabelais and the French sonneteers, and he seems to have been acquainted with Italian. His knowledge of English literature was wide, and his judgement good: but his chief bent lay towards the history, legendary and otherwise, of his native country, and his vast stores of learning on this subject bore fruit in the Polyolbion.
While still at Polesworth, Drayton fell in love with his patron's younger daughter, Anne; and, though she married, in 1596, Sir Henry Rainsford of Clifford, Drayton continued his devotion to her for many years, and also became an intimate friend of her husband's, writing a sincere elegy on his death. About February, 1591, Drayton paid a visit to London, and published his first work, the Harmony of the Church, a series of paraphrases from the Old Testament, in fourteen-syllabled verse of no particular vigour or grace. This book was immediately suppressed by order of Archbishop Whitgift, possibly because it was supposed to savour of Puritanism. The author, however, published another edition in 1610; indeed, he seems to have had a fondness for this style of work; for in 1604 he published a dull poem, Moyses in a Map of his Miracles, re-issued in 1630 as Moses his Birth and Miracles. Accompanying this piece, in 1630, were two other 'Divine poems': Noah's Floud, and David and Goliath. Noah's Floud is, in part, one of Drayton's happiest attempts at the catalogue style of bestiary; and Mr. Elton finds in it some foreshadowing of the manner of Paradise Lost. But, as a whole, Drayton's attempts in this direction deserve the oblivion into which they, in common with the similar productions of other authors, have fallen. In the dedication and preface to the Harmony of the Church are some of the few traces of Euphuism shown in Drayton's work; passages in the Heroical Epistles also occur to the mind. He was always averse to affectation, literary or otherwise, and in Elegy viij deliberately condemns Lyly's fantastic style.
Probably before Drayton went up to London, Sir Henry Goodere saw that he would stand in need of a patron more powerful than the master of Polesworth, and introduced him to the Earl and Countess of Bedford. Those who believe Drayton to have been a Pope in petty spite, identify the 'Idea' of his earlier poems with Lucy, Countess of Bedford; though they are forced to acknowledge as self-evident that the 'Idea' of his later work is Anne, Lady Rainsford. They then proceed to say that Drayton, after consistently honouring the Countess in his verse for twelve years, abruptly transferred his allegiance, not forgetting to heap foul abuse on his former patroness, out of pique at some temporary withdrawal of favour. Not only is this directly contrary to all we know and can infer of Drayton's character, but Mr. Elton has decisively disproved it by a summary of bibliographical and other evidence. Into the question it is here unnecessary to enter, and it has been mentioned only because it alone, of the many Drayton-controversies, has cast any slur on the poet's reputation.
In 1593, Drayton published Idea, the Shepherds Garland, in nine Eclogues; in 1606 he added a tenth, the best of all, to the new edition, and rearranged the order, so that the new eclogue became the ninth. In these Pastorals, while following the Shepherds Calendar in many ways, he already displays something of the sturdy independence which characterized him through life. He abandons Spenser's quasi-rustic dialect, and, while keeping to most of the pastoral conventions, such as the singing-match and threnody, he contrives to introduce something of a more natural and homely strain. He keeps the political allusions, notably in the Eclogue containing the song in praise of Beta, who is, of course, Queen Elizabeth. But an over-bold remark in the last line of that song was struck out in 1606; and the new eclogue has no political reference. He is not ashamed to allude directly to Spenser; and indeed his direct debts are limited to a few scattered phrases, as in the Ballad of Dowsabel. Almost to the end of his literary career, Drayton mentions Spenser with reverence and praise.
It is in the songs interspersed in the Eclogues that Drayton's best work at this time is to be found: already his metrical versatility is discernible; for though he doubtless remembered the many varieties of metre employed by Spenser in the Calendar, his verses already bear a stamp of their own. The long but impetuous lines, such as 'Trim up her golden tresses with Apollo's sacred tree', afford a striking contrast to the archaic romance-metre, derived from Sir Thopas and its fellows, which appears in Dowsabel, and it again to the melancholy, murmuring cadences of the lament for Elphin. It must, however, be confessed that certain of the songs in the 1593 edition were full of recondite conceits and laboured antitheses, and were rightly struck out, to be replaced by lovelier poems, in the edition of 1606. The song to Beta was printed in Englands Helicon, 1600; here, for the first time, appeared the song of Dead Love, and for the only time, Rowlands Madrigal. In these songs, Drayton offends least in grammar, always a weak point with him; in the body of the Eclogues, in the earlier Sonnets, in the Odes, occur the most extraordinary and perplexing inversions. Quite the most striking feature of the Eclogues, especially in their later form, is their bold attempt at greater realism, at a breaking-away from the conventional images and scenery.
Having paid his tribute to one poetic fashion, Drayton in 1594 fell in with the prevailing craze for sonneteering, and published Ideas Mirrour, a series of fifty-one 'amours' or sonnets, with two prefatory poems, one by Drayton and one by an unknown, signing himself Gorbo il fidele. The title of these poems Drayton possibly borrowed from the French sonneteer, de Pontoux: in their style much recollection of Sidney, Constable, and Daniel is traceable. They are ostensibly addressed to his mistress, and some of them are genuine in feeling; but many are merely imitative exercises in conceit; some, apparently, trials in metre. These amours were again printed, with the title of 'sonnets', in 1599, 1600, 1602, 1603, 1605, 1608, 1610, 1613, 1619, and 1631, during the poet's lifetime. It is needless here to discuss whether Drayton were the 'rival poet' to Shakespeare, whether these sonnets were really addressed to a man, or merely to the ideal Platonic beauty; for those who are interested in these points, I subjoin references to the sonnets which touch upon them. From the prentice-work evident in many of the Amours, it would seem that certain of them are among Drayton's earliest poems; but others show a craftsman not meanly advanced in his art. Nevertheless, with few exceptions, this first 'bundle of sonnets' consists rather of trials of skill, bubbles of the mind; most of his sonnets which strike the reader as touched or penetrated with genuine passion belong to the editions from 1599 onwards; implying that his love for Anne Goodere, if at all represented in these poems, grew with his years, for the 'love-parting' is first found in the edition of 1619. But for us the question should not be, are these sonnets genuine representations of the personal feeling of the poet? but rather, how far do they arouse or echo in us as individuals the universal passion? There are at least some of Drayton's sonnets which possess a direct, instant, and universal appeal, by reason of their simple force and straightforward ring; and not in virtue of any subtle charm of sound and rhythm, or overmastering splendour of diction or thought. Ornament vanishes, and soberness and simplicity increase, as we proceed in the editions of the sonnets. Drayton's chief attempt in the jewelled or ornamental style appeared in 1595, with the title of Endimion and Phoebe, and was, in a sense, an imitation of Marlowe's Hero and Leander. Hero and Leander is, as Swinburne says, a shrine of Parian marble, illumined from within by a clear flame of passion; while Endimion and Phoebe is rather a curiously wrought tapestry, such as that in Mortimer's Tower, woven in splendid and harmonious colours, wherein, however, the figures attain no clearness or subtlety of outline, and move in semi-conventional scenery. It is, none the less, graceful and impressive, and of a like musical fluency with other poems of its class, such as Venus and Adonis, or Salmacis and Hermaphrodius. Parts of it were re-set and spoilt in a 1606 publication of Drayton's, called The Man in the Moone.
In 1593 and 1594 Drayton also published his earliest pieces on the mediaeval theme of the 'Falls of the Illustrious'; they were Peirs Gavesson and Matilda the faire and chaste daughter of the Lord Robert Fitzwater. Here Drayton followed in the track of Boccaccio, Lydgate, and the Mirrour for Magistrates, walking in the way which Chaucer had derided in his Monkes Tale: and with only too great fidelity does Drayton adapt himself to the dullnesses of his model: fine rhetoric is not altogether wanting, and there is, of course, the consciousness that these subjects deal with the history of his beloved country, but neither these, nor Robert, Duke of Normandy (1596), nor Great Cromwell, Earl of Essex (1607 and 1609), nor the Miseries of Margaret (1627) can escape the charge of tediousness. England's Heroical Epistles were first published in 1597, and other editions, of 1598, 1599, and 1602, contain new epistles. These are Drayton's first attempt to strike out a new and original vein of English poetry: they are a series of letters, modelled on Ovid's Heroides, addressed by various pairs of lovers, famous in English history, to each other, and arranged in chronological order, from Henry II and Rosamond to Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guilford Dudley. They are, in a sense, the most important of Drayton's writings, and they have certainly been the most popular, up to the early nineteenth century. In these poems Drayton foreshadowed, and probably inspired, the smooth style of Fairfax, Waller, and Dryden. The metre, the grammar, and the thought, are all perfectly easy to follow, even though he employs many of the Ovidian 'turns' and 'clenches'. A certain attempt at realization of the different characters is observable, but the poems are fine rhetorical exercises rather than realizations of the dramatic and passionate possibilities of their themes. In 1596, Drayton, as we have seen, published the Mortimeriados, a kind of epic, with Mortimer as its hero, of the wars between King Edward II and the Barons. It was written in the seven-line stanza of Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida and Spenser's Hymns. On its republication in 1603, with the title of the Barons' Wars, the metre was changed to ottava rima, and Drayton showed, in an excellent preface, that he fully appreciated the principles and the subtleties of the metrical art. While possessing many fine passages, the Barons' Wars is somewhat dull, lacking much of the poetry of the older version; and does not escape from Drayton's own criticism of Daniel's Chronicle Poems: 'too much historian in verse, ... His rhymes were smooth, his metres well did close, But yet his manner better fitted prose'. The description of Mortimer's Tower in the sixth book recalls the ornate style of Endimion and Phoebe, while the fifth book, describing the miseries of King Edward, is the most moving and dramatic. But there is a general lifelessness and lack of movement for which these purple passages barely atone. The cause of the production of so many chronicle poems about this time has been supposed to be the desire of showing the horrors of civil war, at a time when the queen was growing old, and no successor had, as it seemed, been accepted. Also they were a kind of parallel to the Chronicle Play; and Drayton, in any case even if we grant him to have been influenced by the example of Daniel, never needed much incentive to treat a national theme.
About this time, we find Drayton writing for the stage. It seems unnecessary here to discuss whether the writing of plays is evidence of Drayton's poverty, or his versatility; but the fact remains that he had a hand in the production of about twenty. Of these, the only one which certainly survives is The first part of the true and honorable historie, of the life of Sir John Oldcastle, the good Lord Cobham, &c. It is practically impossible to distinguish Drayton's share in this curious play, and it does not, therefore, materially assist the elucidation of the question whether he had any dramatic feeling or skill. It can be safely affirmed that the dramatic instinct was nor uppermost in his mind; he was a Seneca rather than a Euripides: but to deny him all dramatic idea, as does Dr. Whitaker, is too severe. There is decided, if slender, dramatic skill and feeling in certain of the Nymphals. Drayton's persons are usually, it must be said, rather figures in a tableau, or series of tableaux; but in the second and seventh Nymphals, and occasionally in the tenth, there is real dramatic movement. Closely connected with this question is the consideration of humour, which is wrongly denied to Drayton. Humour is observable first, perhaps, in the Owle (1604); then in the Ode to his Rival (1619); and later in the Nymphidia, Shepheards Sirena, and Muses Elyzium. The second Nymphal shows us the quiet laughter, the humorous twinkle, with which Drayton writes at times. The subject is an [Greek: agon] or contest between two shepherds for the affections of a nymph called Lirope: Lalus is a vale-bred swain, of refined and elegant manners, skilled, nevertheless, in all manly sports and exercises; Cleon, no less a master in physical prowess, was nurtured by a hind in the mountains; the contrast between their manners is admirably sustained: Cleon is rough, inclined to be rude and scoffing, totally without tact, even where his mistress is concerned. Lalus remembers her upbringing and her tastes; he makes no unnecessary or ostentatious display of wealth; his gifts are simple and charming, while Cleon's are so grotesquely unsuited to a swain, that it is tempting to suppose that Drayton was quietly satirizing Marlowe's Passionate Shepherd. Lirope listens gravely to the swains in turn, and makes demure but provoking answers, raising each to the height of hope, and then casting them both down into the depths of despair; finally she refuses both, yet without altogether killing hope. Her first answer is a good specimen of her banter and of Drayton's humour.
On the accession of James I, Drayton hastened to greet the King with a somewhat laboured song To the Maiestie of King James; but this poem was apparently considered to be premature: he cried Vivat Rex, without having said, Mortua est eheu Regina, and accordingly he suffered the penalty of his 'forward pen', and was severely neglected by King and Court. Throughout James's reign a darker and more satirical mood possesses Drayton, intruding at times even into his strenuous recreation-ground, the Polyolbion, and manifesting itself more directly in his satires, the Owle (1604), the Moon-Calfe (1627), the Man in the Moone (1606), and his verse-letters and elegies; while his disappointment with the times, the country, and the King, flashes out occasionally even in the Odes, and is heard in his last publication, the Muses Elizium (1630). To counterbalance the disappointment in his hopes from the King, Drayton found a new and life-long friend in Walter Aston, of Tixall, in Staffordshire; this gentleman was created Knight of the Bath by James, and made Drayton one of his esquires. By Aston's 'continual bounty' the poet was able to devote himself almost entirely to more congenial literary work; for, while Meres speaks of the Polyolbion in 1598, and we may easily see that Drayton had the idea of that work at least as early as 1594, yet he cannot have been able to give much time to it till now. Nevertheless, the 'declining and corrupt times' worked on Drayton's mind and grieved and darkened his soul, for we must remember that he was perfectly prosperous then and was not therefore incited to satire by bodily want or distress.
In 1604 he published the Owle, a mild satire, under the form of a moral fable of government, reminding the reader a little of the Parlement of Foules. The Man in the Moone (1606) is partly a recension of Endimion and Phoebe, but is a heterogeneous mass of weakly satire, of no particular merit. The Moon-Calfe (1627) is Drayton's most savage and misanthropic excursion into the region of Satire; in which, though occasionally nobly ironic, he is more usually coarse and blustering, in the style of Marston. In 1605 Drayton brought out his first 'collected poems', from which the Eclogues and the Owle are omitted; and in 1606 he published his Poemes Lyrick and Pastorall, Odes, Eglogs, The Man in the Moone. Of these the Eglogs are a recension of the Shepherd's Garland of 1593: we have already spoken of The Man in the Moone. The Odes are by far the most important and striking feature of the book. In the preface, Drayton professes to be following Pindar, Anacreon, and Horace, though, as he modestly implies, at a great distance. Under the title of Odes he includes a variety of subjects, and a variety of metres; ranging from an Ode to his Harp or to his Criticks, to a Ballad of Agincourt, or a poem on the Rose compared with his Mistress. In the edition of 1619 appeared several more Odes, including some of the best; while many of the others underwent careful revision, notably the Ballad. 'Sing wee the Rose,' perhaps because of its unintelligibility, and the Ode to his friend John Savage, perhaps because too closely imitated from Horace, were omitted. Drayton was not the first to use the term Ode for a lyrical poem, in English: Soothern in 1584, and Daniel in 1592 had preceded him; but he was the first to give the name popularity in England, and to lift the kind as Ronsard had lifted it in France; and till the time of Cowper no other English poet showed mastery of the short, staccato measure of the Anacreontic as distinct from the Pindaric Ode. In the Odes Drayton shows to the fullest extent his metrical versatility: he touches the Skeltonic metre, the long ten-syllabled line of the Sacrifice to Apollo; and ascends from the smooth and melodious rhythms of the New Year through the inspiring harp-tones of the Virginian Voyage to the clangour and swing of the Ballad of Agincourt. His grammar is possibly more distorted here than anywhere, but, as Mr. Elton says, 'these are the obstacles of any poet who uses measures of four or six syllables.' His tone throughout is rather that of the harp, as played, perhaps, in Polesworth Hall, than that of any other instrument; but in 1619 Drayton has taken to him the lute of Carew and his compeers. In 1619 the style is lighter, the fancy gayer, more exquisite, more recondite. Most of his few metaphysical conceits are to be found in these later Odes, as in the Heart, the Valentine, and the Crier. In the comparison of the two editions the nobler, if more strained, tone of the earlier is obvious; it is still Elizabethan, in its nobility of ideal and purpose, in its enthusiasm, in its belief and confidence in England and her men; and this even though we catch a glimpse of the Jacobean woe in the Ode to John Savage: the 1619 Odes are of a different world; their spirit is lighter, more insouciant in appearance, though perhaps studiedly so; the rhythms are more fantastic, with less of strength and firmness, though with more of grace and superficial beauty; even the very textual alterations, while usually increasing the grace and the music of the lines, remind the reader that something of the old spontaneity and freshness is gone.
In 1607 and 1609, Drayton published two editions of the last and weakest of his mediaeval poems—the Legend of Great Cromwell; and for the next few years he produced nothing new, only attending to the publication of certain reprints and new editions. During this time, however, he was working steadily at the Polyolbion, helped by the patronage of Aston and of Prince Henry. In 1612-13, Drayton burst upon an indifferent world with the first part of the great poem, containing eighteen songs; the title-page will give the best idea of the contents and plan of the book: 'Poly-Olbion or a Chorographicall Description of the Tracts, Riuers, Mountaines, Forests, and other Parts of this renowned Isle of Great Britaine, With intermixture of the most Remarquable Stories, Antiquities, Wonders, Rarityes, Pleasures, and Commodities of the same: Digested in a Poem by Michael Drayton, Esq. With a Table added, for direction to those occurrences of Story and Antiquities, whereunto the Course of the Volume easily leades not.' &c. On this work Drayton had been engaged for nearly the whole of his poetical career. The learning and research displayed in the poem are extraordinary, almost equalling the erudition of Selden in his Annotations to each Song. The first part was, for various reasons, a drug in the market, and Drayton found great difficulty in securing a publisher for the second part. But during the years from 1613 to 1622, he became acquainted with Drummond of Hawthornden through a common friend, Sir William Alexander of Menstry, afterwards Earl of Stirling. In 1618, Drayton starts a correspondence; and towards the end of the year mentions that he is corresponding also with Andro Hart, bookseller, of Edinburgh. The subject of his letter was probably the publication of the Second Part; which Drayton alludes to in a letter of 1619 thus: 'I have done twelve books more, that is from the eighteenth book, which was Kent, if you note it; all the East part and North to the river Tweed; but it lies by me; for the booksellers and I are in terms; they are a company of base knaves, whom I both scorn and kick at.' Finally, in 1622, Drayton got Marriott, Grismand, and Dewe, of London, to take the work, and it was published with a dedication to Prince Charles, who, after his brother's death, had given Drayton patronage. Drayton's preface to the Second Part is well worth quoting:
'To any that will read it. When I first undertook this Poem, or, as some very skilful in this kind have pleased to term it, this Herculean labour, I was by some virtuous friends persuaded, that I should receive much comfort and encouragement therein; and for these reasons; First, that it was a new, clear, way, never before gone by any; then, that it contained all the Delicacies, Delights, and Rarities of this renowned Isle, interwoven with the Histories of the Britons, Saxons, Normans, and the later English: And further that there is scarcely any of the Nobility or Gentry of this land, but that he is in some way or other by his Blood interested therein. But it hath fallen out otherwise; for instead of that comfort, which my noble friends (from the freedom of their spirits) proposed as my due, I have met with barbarous ignorance, and base detraction; such a cloud hath the Devil drawn over the world's judgment, whose opinion is in few years fallen so far below all ballatry, that the lethargy is incurable: nay, some of the Stationers, that had the selling of the First Part of this Poem, because it went not so fast away in the sale, as some of their beastly and abominable trash, (a shame both to our language and nation) have either despitefully left out, or at least carelessly neglected the Epistles to the Readers, and so have cozened the buyers with unperfected books; which these that have undertaken the Second Part, have been forced to amend in the First, for the small number that are yet remaining in their hands. And some of our outlandish, unnatural, English, (I know not how otherwise to express them) stick not to say that there is nothing in this Island worth studying for, and take a great pride to be ignorant in any thing thereof; for these, since they delight in their folly, I wish it may be hereditary from them to their posterity, that their children may be begg'd for fools to the fifth generation, until it may be beyond the memory of man to know that there was ever other of their families: neither can this deter me from going on with Scotland, if means and time do not hinder me, to perform as much as I have promised in my First Song:
Till through the sleepy main, to Thuly I have gone, And seen the Frozen Isles, the cold Deucalidon, Amongst whose iron Rocks, grim Saturn yet remains Bound in those gloomy caves with adamantine chains.
And as for those cattle whereof I spake before, Odi profanum vulgus, et arceo, of which I account them, be they never so great, and so I leave them. To my friends, and the lovers of my labours, I wish all happiness. Michael Drayton.'
The Polyolbion as a whole is easy and pleasant to read; and though in some parts it savours too much of a mere catalogue, yet it has many things truly poetical. The best books are perhaps the xiij, xiv, and xv, where he is on his own ground, and therefore naturally at his best. It is interesting to notice how much attention and space he devotes to Wales. He describes not only the 'wonders' but also the fauna and flora of each district; and of the two it would seem that the flowers interested him more. Though he was a keen observer of country sights and sounds (a fact sufficiently attested by the Nymphidia and the Nymphals), it is evident that his interest in most things except flowers was rather momentary or conventional than continuous and heart-felt; but of the flowers he loves to talk, whether he weaves us a garland for the Thame's wedding, or gives us the contents of a maund of simples; and his love, if somewhat homely and unimaginative, is apparent enough. But the main inspiration, as it is the main theme, of the Polyolbion is the glory and might and wealth, past, present, and future, of England, her possessions and her folk. Through all this glory, however, we catch the tone of Elizabethan sorrow over the 'Ruines of Time'; grief that all these mighty men and their works will perish and be forgotten, unless the poet makes them live for ever on the lips of men. Drayton's own voluminousness has defeated his purpose, and sunk his poem by its own bulk. Though it is difficult to go so far as Mr. Bullen, and say that the only thing better than a stroll in the Polyolbion is one in a Sussex lane, it is still harder to agree with Canon Beeching, that 'there are few beauties on the road', the beauties are many, though of a quietly rural type, and the road, if long and winding, is of good surface, while its cranks constitute much of its charm. It is doubtless, from the outside, an appalling poem in these days of epitomes and monographs, but it certainly deserves to be rescued from oblivion and read.
In 1618 Drayton contributed two Elegies to Henry FitzGeoffrey's Satyrs and Epigrames. These were on the Lady Penelope Clifton, and on 'the death of the three sonnes of the Lord Sheffield, drowned neere where Trent falleth into Humber'. Neither is remarkable save for far-fetched conceits; they were reprinted in 1610, and again, with many others, in the volume of 1627. In 1619 Drayton issued a folio collected edition of his works, and reprinted it in 1620. In 1627 followed a folio of wholly fresh matter, including the Battaile of Agincourt; the Miseries of Queene Margarite, Nimphidia, Quest of Cinthia, Shepheards Sirena, Moone-Calfe, and Elegies upon sundry occasions. The Battaile of Agincourt is a somewhat otiose expansion, with purple patches, of the Ballad; it is, nevertheless, Drayton's best lengthy piece on a historical theme. Of the Miseries of Queene Margarite and of the Moone-Calfe we have already spoken. The most notable piece in the book is the Nimphidia. This poem of the Court of Fairy has 'invention, grace, and humour', as Canon Beeching has said. It would be interesting to know exactly when it was composed and committed to paper, for it is thought that the three fairy poems in Herrick's Hesperides were written about 1626. In any case, Drayton's poem touches very little, and chiefly in the beginning, on the subject of any one of Herrick's three pieces. The style, execution, and impression left on the reader are quite different; even as they are totally unlike those of the Midsummer Night's Dream. Herrick's pieces are extraordinary combinations of the idea of 'King of Shadows', with a reality fantastically sober: the poems are steeped in moonlight. In Drayton all is clear day, or the most unromantic of nights; though everything is charming, there is no attempt at idealization, little of the higher faculty of imagination; but great realism, and much play of fancy. Herrick's verses were written by Cobweb and Moth together, Drayton's by Puck. Granting, however, the initial deficiency in subtlety of charm, the whole poem is inimitably graceful and piquant. The gay humour, the demure horror of the witchcraft, the terrible seriousness of the battle, wonderfully realize the mock-heroic gigantesque; and while there is not the minute accuracy of Gulliver in Lilliput, Drayton did not write for a sceptical or too-prying audience; quite half his readers believed more or less in fairies. In the metre of the poem Drayton again echoes that of the older romances, as he did in Dowsabel. In the Quest of Cinthia, while ostensibly we come to the real world of mortals, we are really in a non-existent land of pastoral convention, in the most pseudo-Arcadian atmosphere in which Drayton ever worked. The metre and the language are, however, charmingly managed. The Shepheards Sirena is a poem, apparently, 'where more is meant than meets the ear,' as so often in pastoral poetry; it is difficult to see exactly what is meant; but the Jacobean strain of doubt and fear is there, and the poem would seem to have been written some time earlier than 1627. The Elegies comprise a great variety of styles and themes; some are really threnodies, some verse-letters, some laments over the evil times, and one a summary of Drayton's literary opinions. He employs the couplet in his Elegies with a masterly hand, often with a deliberately rugged effect, as in his broader Marstonic satire addressed to William Browne; while the line of greater smoothness but equal strength is to be seen in the letters to Sandys and Jeffreys. He is fantastic and conceited in most of the threnodies; but, as is natural, that on his old friend, Sir Henry Rainsford, is least artificial and fullest of true feeling. The epistle to Henery Reynolds. Of Poets and Poesie shows Drayton as a sane and sagacious critic, ready to see the good, but keen to discern the weakness also; perhaps the clearest evidence of his critical skill is the way in which nearly all of his judgements on his contemporaries coincide with the received modern opinions.
In his later years Drayton enjoyed the patronage of the third Earl and Countess of Dorset; and in 1630 he published his last volume, the Muses Elizium, of which he dedicated the pastoral part to the Earl, and the three divine poems at the end to the Countess. The Muses Elizium proper consists of Ten Pastorals or Nymphals, prefaced by a Description of Elizium. The three divine poems have been mentioned before, and were Noah's Floud, Moses his Birth and Miracles, and David and Goliah. The Nymphals are the crown and summary of much of the best in Drayton's work. Here he departed from the conventional type of pastoral, even more than in the Shepherd's Garland; but to say that he sang of English rustic life would hardly be true: the sixth Nymphal, allowing for a few pardonable exaggerations by the competitors, is almost all English, if we except the names; so is the tenth with the same exception; the first and fourth might take place anywhere, but are not likely in any country; the second is more conventional; the fifth is almost, but not quite, English; the third, seventh, and ninth are avowedly classical in theme; while the eighth is a more delicate and subtle fairy poem than the Nymphidia. The fourth and tenth Nymphals are also touched with the sadder, almost satiric vein; the former inveighing against the English imitation of foreigners and love of extravagance in dress; while the tenth complains of the improvident and wasteful felling of trees in the English forests. This last Nymphal, though designedly an epilogue, is probably rather a warning than a despairing lament, even though we conceive the old satyr to be Drayton himself. As a whole the Nymphals show Drayton at his happiest and lightest in style and metre; at his moments of greatest serenity and even gaiety; an atmosphere of sunshine seems to envelope them all, though the sun sink behind a cloud in the last. His music now is that of a rippling stream, whereas in his earlier days he spoke weightier and more sonorous words, with a mouth of gold.
To estimate the poetical faculty of Drayton is a somewhat perplexing task; for, while rarely subtle, or rising to empyrean heights, he wrote in such varied styles, on such various themes, that the task, at first, seems that of criticizing many poets, not one. But through all his work runs the same eminently English spirit, the same honesty and clearness of idea, the same stolidity of purpose, and not infrequently of execution also; the same enthusiasm characterizes all his earlier, and much of his later work; the enthusiasm especially characteristic of Elizabethan England, and shown by Drayton in his passion for England and the English, in his triumphant joy in their splendid past, and his certainty of their future glory. As a poet, he lacked imagination and fine fury; he supplied their place by the airiest and clearest of fancies, by the strenuous labour of a great brain illumined by the steady flame of love for his country and for his lady. Mr. Courthope has said that he lacked loftiness and resolution of artistic purpose; without these, we ask, how could a man, not lavishly dowered with poetry in his soul, have achieved so much of it? It was his very fixity and loftiness of purpose, his English stubbornness and doggedness of resolution that enabled him to surmount so many obstacles of style and metre, of subject and thought. His two purposes, of glorifying his mistress and his friends, and of sounding England's glories past and future, while insisting on the dangers of a present decadence, never flagged or failed. All his poetry up to 1627 has this object directly or secondarily; and much after this date. Of the more abstract and universal aspects of his art he had not much conception; but he caught eagerly at the fashionable belief in the eternizing power of poetry; and had it not been that, where his patriotism was uppermost, he was deficient in humour and sense of proportion, he would have succeeded better: as it is, his more directly patriotic pieces are usually the dullest or longest of his works. He requires, like all other poets, the impulse of an absolutely personal and individual feeling, a moment of more intimate sympathy, to rouse him to his heights of song. Thus the Ballad of Agincourt is on the very theme of all patriotic themes that most attracted him; Virginian and other Voyages lay very close to his heart; and in certain sonnets to his lady lies his only imperishable work. Of sheer melody and power of song he had little, apart from his themes: he could not have sat down and written a few lark's or nightingale's notes about nothing as some of his contemporaries were able to do: he required the stimulus of a subject, and if he were really moved thereby he beat the music out. Only in one or two of the later Odes, and in the volumes of 1627 and 1630, does his music ever seem to flow from him naturally. Akin to this quality of broad and extensive workmanship, to this faculty of taking a subject and when writing, with all thought concentrated on it, rather than on the method of writing about it, is his strange lack of what are usually called 'quotations'. For this is not only due to the fact that he is little known; there are, besides, so few detached remarks or aphorisms that are separately quotable; so few examples of that curiosa felicitas of diction: lines like these,
Thy Bowe, halfe broke, is peec'd with old desire; Her Bowe is beauty with ten thousand strings....
are rare enough. Drayton, in fact, comes as near controverting the statement Poeta nascitur, non fit, as any one in English literature: by diligent toil and earnest desire he won a place for himself in the second rank of English poets: through love he once set foot in the circle of the mightiest. Sincere he was always, simple often, sensuous rarely. His great industry, his careful study, and his great receptivity are shown in the unusual spectacle of a man who has sung well in the language of his youth, suddenly learning, in his age, the tongue spoken by the younger generation, and reproducing it with individuality and sureness of touch. It is in rhetoric, splendid or rugged, in argument, in plain statement or description, in the outline sketch of a picture, that Drayton excels; magic of atmosphere and colouring are rarely present. Stolidity is, perhaps, his besetting sin; yet it is the sign of a slow, not a dull, intellect; an intellect, like his heart, which never let slip what it had once taken to itself.
As a man Drayton would seem to have been an excellent type of the sturdy, clear-headed, but yet romantic and enthusiastic Englishman; gifted with much natural ability, sedulously increased by study; quietly humorous, self-restrained; and if temporarily soured by disappointment and the disjointed times, yet emerging at last into a greater serenity, a more unadulterated gaiety than had ever before characterized him. It is possible, but from his clear and sane balance of mind improbable, that many of his light later poems are due to deliberate self-blinding and self-deception, a walking in enchanted lands of the mind.
Of Drayton's three known portraits the earliest shows him at the age of thirty-six, and is now in the National Portrait Gallery. A look of quiet, speculative melancholy seems to pervade it; there is, as yet, no moroseness, no evidence of severe conflict with the world, no shadow of stress or of doubt. The second and best-known portrait shows us Drayton at the age of fifty, and was engraved by Hole, as a frontispiece to the poems of 1619. Here a notable change has come over the face; the mouth is hardened, and depressed at the corners through disappointment and disillusionment; the eyes are full of a pathos increased by the puzzled and perturbed uplift of the brows. Yet a stubbornness and tenacity of purpose invests the features and reminds us that Drayton is of the old and sound Elizabethan stock, 'on evil days though fallen.' Let it be remembered, that he was in 1613, when the portrait was taken, in more or less prosperous circumstances; it was the sad degeneracy, the meanness and feebleness of the generation around him, that chiefly depressed and embittered him. The final portrait, now in the Dulwich Gallery, represents the poet as a man of sixty-five; and is quite in keeping with the sunnier and calmer tone of his later poetry. It is the face of one who has not emerged unscathed from the world's conflict, but has attained to a certain calm, a measure of tranquillity, a portion of content, who has learnt the lesson that there is a soul of goodness in things evil. The Hole portrait shows him with long hair, small 'goatee' beard, and aquiline nose drawn up at the nostrils: while the National portrait shows a type of nose and beard intermediate between the Hole and the Dulwich pictures: the general contour of the face, though the forehead is broad enough, is long and oval. Drayton seems to have been tall and thin, and to have been very susceptible of cold, and therefore to have hated Winter and the North. He is said to have shared in the supper which caused Shakespeare's death; but his own verses breathe the spirit of Milton's sonnet to Cyriack Skinner, rather than that of a devotee of Bacchus.
He died in 1631, possibly on December 23, and was buried under the North wall of Westminster Abbey. Meres's opinion of his character during his early life is as follows: 'As Aulus Persius Flaccus is reported among al writers to be of an honest life and vpright conuersation: so Michael Drayton, quem totics honoris et amoris causa nomino, among schollers, souldiours, Poets, and all sorts of people is helde for a man of uertuous disposition, honest conversation, and well gouerned cariage; which is almost miraculous among good wits in these declining and corrupt times, when there is nothing but rogery in villanous man, and when cheating and craftines is counted the cleanest wit, and soundest wisedome.' Fuller also, in a similar strain, says, 'He was a pious poet, his conscience having the command of his fancy, very temperate in his life, slow of speech, and inoffensive in company.'
In conclusion I have to thank Mr. H.M. Sanders, of Pembroke College, Oxford, for help and advice, and Professor Raleigh and Mr. R.W. Chapman for help and criticism while the volume was in the press. Above all, I am at every turn indebted to Professor Elton's invaluable Michael Drayton, without which the work of any student of Drayton would be rendered, if not impossible, at least infinitely harder.
CYRIL BRETT. ALTON, STAFFORDSHIRE.
[Footnote 1: Cf. Elegy viij, To Henery Reynolds, Esquire, p. 108.]
[Footnote 2: Sir Aston Cokayne, in 1658, says that he went to Oxford, while Fleay asserts, without authority, that his university was probably Cambridge.]
[Footnote 3: Cf. the motto of Ideas Mirrour, the allusions to Ariosto in the Nymphidia, p. 129; and above all, the Heroical Epistles; Dedic. of Ep. of D. of Suffolk to Q. Margaret: 'Sweet is the French Tongue, more sweet the Italian, but most sweet are they both, if spoken by your admired self.' Cf. Surrey to Geraldine, ll. 5 sqq., with Drayton's note.]
[Footnote 4: Cf. Sonnet xij (ed. 1602), p. 42, ''Tis nine years now since first I lost my wit.' (This sonnet may, of course, occur in the supposed 1600 ed., which would fix an earlier date for Drayton's beginning of love.)]
[Footnote 5: Elegy ix, p. 113.]
[Footnote 6: Cf. Morley's ed. of Barons' Wars, &c. (1887), p. 6.]
[Footnote 7: Cf. E.H. Ep. 'Mat. to K.J.,' 100 sqq., &c.]
[Footnote 8: Professor Courthope and others. There was some excuse for blunders before the publication of Professor Elton's book; and they have been made easier by an unfortunate misprint. Professor Courthope twice misprints the first line of the Love-Parting Sonnet, as 'Since there's no help, come let us rise and part', and, so printed, the line supports better the theory that the poem refers to a patroness and not to a mistress. Cf. Courthope, Hist. Eng. Poetry, iii. pp. 40 and 43.]
[Footnote 9: Cf. E. and Phoebe, sub fin.; Shep. Sir. 145-8; Ep. Hy. Reyn. 79 sqq.]
[Footnote 10: Those reprints which were really new editions are in italics.]
[Footnote 11: 1594 ed., Pref. Son. and nos. 12, 18, 28; 1599 ed., nos. 3, 31, 46; 1602 ed., 12, 27, 31; and 1603 ed., 47.]
[Footnote 12: Meres thought otherwise. Cf. Palladis Tamia (1598), 'As Accius, M. Atilius, and Milithus were called Tragediographi, because they writ tragedies: so may wee truly terme Michael Drayton Tragaediographus for his passionate penning the downfals of valiant Robert of Normandy, chast Matilda, and great Gaueston.' Cf. Barnefield, Poems: in diuers humors (ed. Arber, p. 119), 'And Drayton, whose wel-written Tragedies, And Sweete Epistles, soare thy fame to skies. Thy learned name is equall with the rest; Whose stately Numbers are so well addrest.']
[Footnote 13: Cf. Meres, Palladis Tamia (1598), 'Michael Drayton doth imitate Ouid in his England's Heroical Epistles.']
[Footnote 14: Cf. id., ibid., 'As Lucan hath mournefully depainted the ciuil wars of Pompey and Caesar: so hath Daniel the ciuill wars of Yorke and Lancaster, and Drayton the civill wars of Edward the second and the Barons.']
[Footnote 15: Cf. Elegy viij. 126-8.]
[Footnote 16: Cf. Morley's ed., Barons' Wars, &c., 1887, pp. 6-7.]
[Footnote 17: Cf. Elron, pp. 83-93, and Whitaker, M. Drayton as a Dramatist (Public. Mod. Lang. Assoc. of America, vol. xviij. 3).]
[Footnote 18: Cf. Nl. ij. 127 sqq., p. 172.]
[Footnote 19: Cf. Elegy ij. 20.]
[Footnote 20: Cf. Palladis Tamia: 'Michael Drayton is now in penning, in English verse, a Poem called Poly-olbion, Geographicall & Hydrographicall of all the forests, woods, mountaines, fountaines, riuers, lakes, flouds, bathes, & springs that be in England.']
[Footnote 21: Cf. Amours (1594), xx and xxiv.]
[Footnote 22: Cf. Sonnet vj (1619 edition); which is a dignified summary of much that he says more coarsely in the Moone-Calfe.]
[Footnote 23: Cf. Morley's ed. Barons' Wars, &c., p. 8.]
[Footnote 24: Charles FitzGeoffrey, Drake (1596), 'golden-mouthed Drayton musical.' Guilpin, Skialetheia (1598), 'Drayton's condemned of some for imitation, But others say, 'tis the best poet's fashion ... Drayton's justly surnam'd golden-mouth'd.' Meres, Palladis Tamia (1598),' In Charles Fitz-Jefferies Drake Drayton is termed "golden-mouth'd" for the purity and pretiousnesse of his stile and phrase.']
[Footnote 25: Cf. E. H. E., pp. 90, 99 (ed. 1737); Elegy i; and Ode written in the Peak.]
[Footnote 26: Elegy viij, ad init.]
[Footnote 27: Palladis Tamia (1598).]
[Footnote 28: Cf. Returne from Parnassus, i. 2 (1600) ed. Arb. p. 11.]
[Footnote 29: Michael Drayton. A Critical Study. Oliver Elton, M.A. London: A. Constable & Co., 1905.]
[from the Edition of 1594]
To the deere Chyld of the Muses, and his euer kind Mecaenas, Ma. Anthony Cooke, Esquire
Vovchsafe to grace these rude vnpolish'd rymes, Which long (dear friend) haue slept in sable night, And, come abroad now in these glorious tymes, Can hardly brook the purenes of the light. But still you see their desteny is such, That in the world theyr fortune they must try, Perhaps they better shall abide the tuch, Wearing your name, theyr gracious liuery. Yet these mine owne: I wrong not other men, Nor trafique further then thys happy Clyme, Nor filch from Portes, nor from Petrarchs pen, A fault too common in this latter time. Diuine Syr Phillip, I auouch thy writ, I am no Pickpurse of anothers wit. Yours deuoted, M. DRAYTON.
Reade heere (sweet Mayd) the story of my wo, The drery abstracts of my endles cares, With my liues sorow enterlyned so; Smok'd with my sighes, and blotted with my teares: The sad memorials of my miseries, Pend in the griefe of myne afflicted ghost; My liues complaint in doleful Elegies, With so pure loue as tyme could neuer boast. Receaue the incense which I offer heere, By my strong fayth ascending to thy fame, My zeale, my hope, my vowes, my praise, my prayer, My soules oblation to thy sacred name: Which name my Muse to highest heauen shal raise By chast desire, true loue, and vertues praise.
My fayre, if thou wilt register my loue, More then worlds volumes shall thereof arise; Preserue my teares, and thou thy selfe shall proue A second flood downe rayning from mine eyes. Note but my sighes, and thine eyes shal behold The Sun-beames smothered with immortall smoke; And if by thee, my prayers may be enrold, They heauen and earth to pitty shall prouoke. Looke thou into my breast, and thou shall see Chaste holy vowes for my soules sacrifice: That soule (sweet Maide) which so hath honoured thee, Erecting Trophies to thy sacred eyes; Those eyes to my heart shining euer bright, When darknes hath obscur'd each other light.
My thoughts bred vp with Eagle-birds of loue, And, for their vertues I desiered to know, Vpon the nest I set them forth, to proue If they were of the Eagles kinde or no: But they no sooner saw my Sunne appeare, But on her rayes with gazing eyes they stood; Which proou'd my birds delighted in the ayre, And that they came of this rare kinglie brood. But now their plumes, full sumd with sweet desire, To shew their kinde began to clime the skies: Doe what I could my Eaglets would aspire, Straight mounting vp to thy celestiall eyes. And thus (my faire) my thoughts away be flowne, And from my breast into thine eyes be gone.
My faire, had I not erst adorned my Lute With those sweet strings stolne from thy golden hayre, Vnto the world had all my ioyes been mute, Nor had I learn'd to descant on my faire. Had not mine eye seene thy Celestiall eye, Nor my hart knowne the power of thy name, My soule had ne'er felt thy Diuinitie, Nor my Muse been the trumpet of thy fame. But thy diuine perfections, by their skill, This miracle on my poore Muse haue tried, And, by inspiring, glorifide my quill, And in my verse thy selfe art deified: Thus from thy selfe the cause is thus deriued, That by thy fame all fame shall be suruiued.
Since holy Vestall lawes haue been neglected, The Gods pure fire hath been extinguisht quite; No Virgin once attending on that light, Nor yet those heauenly secrets once respected; Till thou alone, to pay the heauens their dutie Within the Temple of thy sacred name, With thine eyes kindling that Celestiall flame, By those reflecting Sun-beames of thy beautie. Here Chastity that Vestall most diuine, Attends that Lampe with eye which neuer sleepeth; The volumes of Religions lawes shee keepeth, Making thy breast that sacred reliques shryne, Where blessed Angels, singing day and night, Praise him which made that fire, which lends that light.
In one whole world is but one Phoenix found, A Phoenix thou, this Phoenix then alone: By thy rare plume thy kind is easly knowne, With heauenly colours dide, with natures wonder cround. Heape thine own vertues, seasoned by their sunne, On heauenly top of thy diuine desire; Then with thy beautie set the same on fire, So by thy death thy life shall be begunne. Thy selfe, thus burned in this sacred flame, With thine owne sweetnes al the heauens perfuming, And stil increasing as thou art consuming, Shalt spring againe from th' ashes of thy fame; And mounting vp shall to the heauens ascend: So maist thou liue, past world, past fame, past end.
Stay, stay, sweet Time; behold, or ere thou passe From world to world, thou long hast sought to see, That wonder now wherein all wonders be, Where heauen beholds her in a mortall glasse. Nay, looke thee, Time, in this Celesteall glasse, And thy youth past in this faire mirror see: Behold worlds Beautie in her infancie, What shee was then, and thou, or ere shee was. Now passe on, Time: to after-worlds tell this, Tell truelie, Time, what in thy time hath beene, That they may tel more worlds what Time hath seene, And heauen may ioy to think on past worlds blisse. Heere make a Period, Time, and saie for mee, She was the like that neuer was, nor neuer more shalbe.
Vnto the World, to Learning, and to Heauen, Three nines there are, to euerie one a nine; One number of the earth, the other both diuine, One wonder woman now makes three od numbers euen. Nine orders, first, of Angels be in heauen; Nine Muses doe with learning still frequent: These with the Gods are euer resident. Nine worthy men vnto the world were giuen. My Worthie one to these nine Worthies addeth, And my faire Muse one Muse vnto the nine; And my good Angell, in my soule diuine, With one more order these nine orders gladdeth. My Muse, my Worthy, and my Angell, then, Makes euery one of these three nines a ten.
Beauty sometime, in all her glory crowned, Passing by that cleere fountain of thine eye, Her sun-shine face there chaunsing to espy, Forgot herselfe, and thought she had been drowned. And thus, whilst Beautie on her beauty gazed, Who then, yet liuing, deemd she had been dying, And yet in death some hope of life espying, At her owne rare perfections so amazed; Twixt ioy and griefe, yet with a smyling frowning, The glorious sun-beames of her eyes bright shining, And shee, in her owne destiny diuining, Threw in herselfe, to saue herselfe by drowning; The Well of Nectar, pau'd with pearle and gold, Where shee remaines for all eyes to behold.
Oft taking pen in hand, with words to cast my woes, Beginning to account the sum of all my cares, I well perceiue my griefe innumerable growes, And still in reckonings rise more millions of dispayres. And thus, deuiding of my fatall howres, The payments of my loue I read, and reading crosse, And in substracting set my sweets vnto my sowres; Th' average of my ioyes directs me to my losse. And thus mine eyes, a debtor to thine eye, Who by extortion gaineth all theyr lookes, My hart hath payd such grieuous vsury, That all her wealth lyes in thy Beauties bookes; And all is thine which hath been due to mee, And I a Banckrupt, quite vndone by thee.
Thine eyes taught mee the Alphabet of loue, To con my Cros-rowe ere I learn'd to spell; For I was apt, a scholler like to proue, Gaue mee sweet lookes when as I learned well. Vowes were my vowels, when I then begun At my first Lesson in thy sacred name: My consonants the next when I had done, Words consonant, and sounding to thy fame. My liquids then were liquid christall teares, My cares my mutes, so mute to craue reliefe; My dolefull Dypthongs were my liues dispaires, Redoubling sighes the accents of my griefe: My loues Schoole-mistris now hath taught me so, That I can read a story of my woe.
Some Atheist or vile Infidell in loue, When I doe speake of thy diuinitie, May blaspheme thus, and say I flatter thee, And onely write my skill in verse to proue. See myracles, ye vnbeleeuing! see A dumbe-born Muse made to expresse the mind, A cripple hand to write, yet lame by kind, One by thy name, the other touching thee. Blind were mine eyes, till they were seene of thine, And mine eares deafe by thy fame healed be; My vices cur'd by vertues sprung from thee, My hopes reuiu'd, which long in graue had lyne: All vncleane thoughts, foule spirits, cast out in mee By thy great power, and by strong fayth in thee.
Cleere Ankor, on whose siluer-sanded shore My soule-shrinde Saint, my faire Idea, lyes; O blessed Brooke! whose milk-white Swans adore The christall streame refined by her eyes: Where sweet Myrh-breathing Zephyre in the spring Gently distils his Nectar-dropping showers; Where Nightingales in Arden sit and sing Amongst those dainty dew-empearled flowers. Say thus, fayre Brooke, when thou shall see thy Queene: Loe! heere thy Shepheard spent his wandring yeeres, And in these shades (deer Nimphe) he oft hath been, And heere to thee he sacrifiz'd his teares. Fayre Arden, thou my Tempe art alone, And thou, sweet Ankor, art my Helicon.
Looking into the glasse of my youths miseries, I see the ugly face of my deformed cares, With withered browes, all wrinckled with dispaires, That for my mis-spent youth the tears fel from my eyes. Then, in these teares, the mirror of these eyes, Thy fayrest youth and Beautie doe I see Imprinted in my teares by looking still on thee: Thus midst a thousand woes ten thousand joyes arise. Yet in those joyes, the shadowes of my good, In this fayre limned ground as white as snow, Paynted the blackest Image of my woe, With murthering hands imbru'd in mine own blood: And in this Image his darke clowdy eyes, My life, my youth, my loue, I heere Anotamize.
Now, Loue, if thou wilt proue a Conqueror, Subdue thys Tyrant euer martyring mee; And but appoint me for her Tormentor, Then for a Monarch will I honour thee. My hart shall be the prison for my fayre; Ile fetter her in chaines of purest loue, My sighs shall stop the passage of the ayre: This punishment the pittilesse may moue. With teares out of the Channels of mine eyes She'st quench her thirst as duly as they fall: Kinde words vnkindest meate I can deuise, My sweet, my faire, my good, my best of all. Ile binde her then with my torne-tressed haire, And racke her with a thousand holy wishes; Then, on a place prepared for her there, Ile execute her with a thousand kisses. Thus will I crucifie, my cruell shee; Thus Ile plague her which hath so plagued mee.
Vertues Idea in virginitie, By inspiration, came conceau'd with thought: The time is come deliuered she must be, Where first my loue into the world was brought. Vnhappy borne, of all vnhappy day! So luckles was my Babes nativity, Saturne chiefe Lord of the Ascendant lay, The wandring Moone in earths triplicitie. Now, or by chaunce or heauens hie prouidence, His Mother died, and by her Legacie (Fearing the stars presaging influence) Bequeath'd his wardship to my soueraignes eye; Where hunger-staruen, wanting lookes to liue, Still empty gorg'd, with cares consumption pynde, Salt luke-warm teares shee for his drink did giue, And euer-more with sighes he supt and dynde: And thus (poore Orphan) lying in distresse Cryes in his pangs, God helpe the motherlesse.
If euer wonder could report a wonder, Or tongue of wonder worth could tell a wonder thought, Or euer ioy expresse what perfect ioy hath taught, Then wonder, tongue, then ioy, might wel report a wonder. Could all conceite conclude, which past conceit admireth, Or could mine eye but ayme her obiects past perfection, My words might imitate my deerest thoughts direction, And my soule then obtaine which so my soule desireth. Were not Inuention stauld, treading Inuentions maze, Or my swift-winged Muse tyred by too hie flying; Did not perfection still on her perfection gaze, Whilst Loue (my Phoenix bird) in her owne flame is dying, Inuention and my Muse, perfection and her loue, Should teach the world to know the wonder that I proue.
Some, when in ryme they of their Loues doe tell, With flames and lightning their exordiums paynt: Some inuocate the Gods, some spirits of Hell, And heauen, and earth doe with their woes acquaint. Elizia is too hie a seate for mee: I wyll not come in Stixe or Phlegiton; The Muses nice, the Furies cruell be, I lyke not Limbo, nor blacke Acheron, Spightful Erinnis frights mee with her lookes, My manhood dares not with foule Ate mell: I quake to looke on Hecats charming bookes, I styll feare bugbeares in Apollos cell. I passe not for Minerua nor Astraea. But euer call vpon diuine Idea.
If those ten Regions, registred by Fame, By theyr ten Sibils haue the world controld, Who prophecied of Christ or ere he came, And of his blessed birth before fore-told; That man-god now, of whom they did diuine, This earth of those sweet Prophets hath bereft, And since the world to iudgement doth declyne, Instead of ten, one Sibil to vs left. Thys pure Idea, vertues right Idea, Shee of whom Merlin long tyme did fore-tell, Excelling her of Delphos or Cumaea, Whose lyfe doth saue a thousand soules from hell: That life (I meane) which doth Religion teach, And by example true repentance preach.
Reading sometyme, my sorrowes to beguile, I find old Poets hylls and floods admire: One, he doth wonder monster-breeding Nyle, Another meruailes Sulphure Aetnas fire. Now broad-brymd Indus, then of Pindus height, Pelion and Ossa, frosty Caucase old, The Delian Cynthus, then Olympus weight, Slow Arrer, franticke Gallus, Cydnus cold. Some Ganges, Ister, and of Tagus tell, Some whir-poole Po, and slyding Hypasis; Some old Pernassus where the Muses dwell, Some Helycon, and some faire Simois: A, fooles! thinke I, had you Idea seene, Poore Brookes and Banks had no such wonders beene.
Letters and lynes, we see, are soone defaced, Mettles doe waste and fret with cankers rust; The Diamond shall once consume to dust, And freshest colours with foule staines disgraced. Paper and yncke can paynt but naked words, To write with blood of force offends the sight, And if with teares, I find them all too light; And sighes and signes a silly hope affoords. O, sweetest shadow! how thou seru'st my turne, Which still shalt be as long as there is Sunne, Nor whilst the world is neuer shall be done, Whilst Moone shall shyne by night, or any fire shall burne: That euery thing whence shadow doth proceede, May in his shadow my Loues story reade.
My hart, imprisoned in a hopeless Ile, Peopled with Armies of pale iealous eyes, The shores beset with thousand secret spyes, Must passe by ayre, or else dye in exile. He framd him wings with feathers of his thought, Which by theyr nature learn'd to mount the skye; And with the same he practised to flye, Till he himself thys Eagles art had taught. Thus soring still, not looking once below, So neere thyne eyes celesteall sunne aspyred, That with the rayes his wafting pyneons fired: Thus was the wanton cause of his owne woe. Downe fell he, in thy Beauties Ocean drenched, Yet there he burnes in fire thats neuer quenched.
Wonder of Heauen, glasse of diuinitie, Rare beautie, Natures joy, perfections Mother, The worke of that vnited Trinitie, Wherein each fayrest part excelleth other! Loues Mithridate, the purest of perfection, Celestiall Image, Load-stone of desire, The soules delight, the sences true direction, Sunne of the world, thou hart reuyuing fire! Why should'st thou place thy Trophies in those eyes, Which scorne the honor that is done to thee, Or make my pen her name immortalize, Who in her pride sdaynes once to look on me? It is thy heauen within her face to dwell, And in thy heauen, there onely, is my hell.
Our floods-Queene, Thames, for shyps and Swans is crowned, And stately Seuerne for her shores is praised, The christall Trent for Foords and fishe renowned, And Auons fame to Albyons Cliues is raysed. Carlegion Chester vaunts her holy Dee, Yorke many wonders of her Ouse can tell, The Peake her Doue, whose bancks so fertill bee, And Kent will say her Medway doth excell. Cotswoold commends her Isis and her Tame, Our Northern borders boast of Tweeds faire flood; Our Westerne parts extoll theyr Wilys fame, And old Legea brags of Danish blood: Ardens sweet Ankor, let thy glory be That fayre Idea shee doth liue by thee.
The glorious sunne went blushing to his bed, When my soules sunne, from her fayre Cabynet, Her golden beames had now discouered, Lightning the world, eclipsed by his set. Some muz'd to see the earth enuy the ayre, Which from her lyps exhald refined sweet, A world to see, yet how he ioyd to heare The dainty grasse make musicke with her feete. But my most meruaile was when from the skyes, So Comet-like, each starre aduanc'd her lyght, As though the heauen had now awak'd her eyes, And summond Angels to this blessed sight. No clowde was seene, but christalline the ayre, Laughing for ioy upon my louely fayre.
Cupid, dumbe-Idoll, peeuish Saint of loue, No more shalt thou nor Saint nor Idoll be; No God art thou, a Goddesse shee doth proue, Of all thine honour shee hath robbed thee. Thy Bowe, halfe broke, is peec'd with old desire; Her Bowe is beauty with ten thousand strings Of purest gold, tempred with vertues fire, The least able to kyll an hoste of Kings. Thy shafts be spent, and shee (to warre appointed) Hydes in those christall quiuers of her eyes More Arrowes, with hart-piercing mettel poynted, Then there be starres at midnight in the skyes. With these she steales mens harts for her reliefe, Yet happy he thats robd of such a thiefe!
My Loue makes hote the fire whose heat is spent, The water moisture from my teares deriueth, And my strong sighes the ayres weake force reuiueth: Thus loue, tears, sighes, maintaine each one his element. The fire, vnto my loue, compare a painted fire, The water, to my teares as drops to Oceans be, The ayre, vnto my sighes as Eagle to the flie, The passions of dispaire but ioyes to my desire. Onely my loue is in the fire ingraued, Onely my teares by Oceans may be gessed, Onely my sighes are by the ayre expressed; Yet fire, water, ayre, of nature not depriued. Whilst fire, water, ayre, twixt heauen and earth shal be, My loue, my teares, my sighes, extinguisht cannot be.
Some wits there be which lyke my method well, And say my verse runnes in a lofty vayne; Some say, I haue a passing pleasing straine, Some say that in my humour I excell. Some who reach not the height of my conceite, They say, (as Poets doe) I vse to fayne, And in bare words paynt out my passions payne: Thus sundry men their sundry minds repeate. I passe not I how men affected be, Nor who commend, or discommend my verse; It pleaseth me if I my plaints rehearse, And in my lynes if shee my loue may see. I proue my verse autentique still in thys, Who writes my Mistres praise can neuer write amisse.
O eyes! behold your happy Hesperus, That luckie Load-starre of eternall light, Left as that sunne alone to comfort vs, When our worlds sunne is vanisht out of sight. O starre of starres! fayre Planet mildly moouing, O Lampe of vertue! sun-bright, euer shyning, O mine eyes Comet! so admyr'd by louing, O cleerest day-starre! neuer more declyning. O our worlds wonder! crowne of heauen aboue, Thrice happy be those eyes which may behold thee! Lou'd more then life, yet onely art his loue Whose glorious hand immortal hath enrold thee! O blessed fayre! now vaile those heauenly eyes, That I may blesse mee at thy sweet arise.
Three sorts of serpents doe resemble thee; That daungerous eye-killing Cockatrice, Th' inchaunting Syren, which doth so entice, The weeping Crocodile; these vile pernicious three. The Basiliske his nature takes from thee, Who for my life in secret wait do'st lye, And to my heart send'st poyson from thine eye: Thus do I feele the paine, the cause yet cannot see. Faire-mayd no more, but Mayr-maid be thy name, Who with thy sweet aluring harmony Hast playd the thiefe, and stolne my hart from me, And, like a Tyrant, mak'st my griefe thy game. The Crocodile, who, when thou hast me slaine, Lament'st my death with teares of thy disdaine.
Sitting alone, loue bids me goe and write; Reason plucks backe, commaunding me to stay, Boasting that shee doth still direct the way, Els senceles loue could neuer once indite. Loue, growing angry, vexed at the spleene, And scorning Reasons maymed Argument, Straight taxeth Reason, wanting to invent Where shee with Loue conuersing hath not beene. Reason, reproched with this coy disdaine, Dispighteth Loue, and laugheth at her folly, And Loue, contemning Reasons reason wholy, Thought her in weight too light by many a graine. Reason, put back, doth out of sight remoue, And Loue alone finds reason in my loue.
Those teares, which quench my hope, still kindle my desire, Those sighes, which coole my hart, are coles vnto my loue, Disdayne, Ice to my life, is to my soule a fire: With teares, sighes, and disdaine, this contrary I proue. Quenchles desire makes hope burne, dryes my teares, Loue heats my hart, my hart-heat my sighes warmeth; With my soules fire my life disdaine out-weares, Desire, my loue, my soule, my hope, hart, and life charmeth. My hope becomes a friend to my desire, My hart imbraceth Loue, Loue doth imbrace my hart; My life a Phoenix is in my soules fire, From thence (they vow) they neuer will depart. Desire, my loue, my soule, my hope, my hart, my life, With teares, sighes, and disdaine, shall haue immortal strife.
Whilst thus mine eyes doe surfet with delight, My wofull hart, imprisond in my breast, Wishing to be trans-formd into my sight, To looke on her by whom mine eyes are blest; But whilst mine eyes thus greedily doe gaze, Behold! their obiects ouer-soone depart, And treading in this neuer-ending maze, Wish now to be trans-formd into my hart: My hart, surcharg'd with thoughts, sighes in abundance raise, My eyes, made dim with lookes, poure down a flood of tears; And whilst my hart and eye enuy each others praise, My dying lookes and thoughts are peiz'd in equall feares: And thus, whilst sighes and teares together doe contende, Each one of these doth ayde vnto the other lende.
My fayre, looke from those turrets of thine eyes, Into the Ocean of a troubled minde, Where my poor soule, the Barke of sorrow, lyes, Left to the mercy of the waues and winde. See where she flotes, laden with purest loue, Which those fayre Ilands of thy lookes affoord, Desiring yet a thousand deaths to proue, Then so to cast her Ballase ouerboard. See how her sayles be rent, her tacklings worne, Her Cable broke, her surest Anchor lost: Her Marryners doe leaue her all forlorne, Yet how shee bends towards that blessed Coast! Loe! where she drownes in stormes of thy displeasure, Whose worthy prize should haue enricht thy treasure.
See, chaste Diana, where my harmles hart, Rouz'd from my breast, his sure and safest layre, Nor chaste by hound, nor forc'd by Hunters arte, Yet see how right he comes vnto my fayre. See how my Deere comes to thy Beauties stand, And there stands gazing on those darting eyes, Whilst from theyr rayes, by Cupids skilfull hand, Into his hart the piercing Arrow flyes. See how he lookes vpon his bleeding wound, Whilst thus he panteth for his latest breath, And, looking on thee, falls vpon the ground, Smyling, as though he gloried in his death. And wallowing in his blood, some lyfe yet laft; His stone-cold lips doth kisse the blessed shaft.
Sweete, sleepe so arm'd with Beauties arrowes darting, Sleepe in thy Beauty, Beauty in sleepe appeareth; Sleepe lightning Beauty, Beauty sleepes, darknes cleereth, Sleepes wonder Beauty, wonders to worlds imparting. Sleep watching Beauty, Beauty waking, sleepe guarding Beauty in sleepe, sleepe in Beauty charmed, Sleepes aged coldnes with Beauties fire warmed, Sleepe with delight, Beauty with loue rewarding. Sleepe and Beauty, with equall forces stryuing, Beauty her strength vnto sleepes weaknes lending, Sleepe with Beauty, Beauty with sleepe contending, Yet others force the others force reuiuing, And others foe the others foe imbrace. Myne eyes beheld thys conflict in thy face.
I euer loue where neuer hope appeares, Yet hope drawes on my neuer-hoping care, And my liues hope would die but for dyspaire; My neuer certaine ioy breeds euer-certaine feares. Vncertaine dread gyues wings vnto my hope, Yet my hopes wings are loden so with feare, As they cannot ascend to my hopes spheare, Yet feare gyues them more then a heauenly scope. Yet this large roome is bounded with dyspaire, So my loue is still fettered with vaine hope, And lyberty depriues him of hys scope, And thus am I imprisond in the ayre: Then, sweet Dispaire, awhile hold vp thy head, Or all my hope for sorrow will be dead.
If chaste and pure deuotion of my youth, Or glorie of my Aprill-springing yeeres, Vnfained loue in naked simple truth, A thousand vowes, a thousand sighes and teares; Or if a world of faithful seruice done, Words, thoughts, and deeds deuoted to her honor, Or eyes that haue beheld her as theyr sunne, With admiration euer looking on her: A lyfe that neuer ioyd but in her loue, A soule that euer hath ador'd her name, A fayth that time nor fortune could not moue, A Muse that vnto heauen hath raised her fame. Though these, nor these deserue to be imbraced, Yet, faire vnkinde, too good to be disgraced.
Die, die, my soule, and neuer taste of ioy, If sighes, nor teares, nor vowes, nor prayers can moue; If fayth and zeale be but esteemd a toy, And kindnes be vnkindnes in my loue. Then, with vnkindnes, Loue, reuenge thy wrong: O sweet'st reuenge that ere the heauens gaue! And with the swan record thy dying song, And praise her still to thy vntimely graue. So in loues death shall loues perfection proue That loue diuine which I haue borne to you, By doome concealed to the heauens aboue, That yet the world vnworthy neuer knew; Whose pure Idea neuer tongue exprest: I feele, you know, the heauens can tell the rest.
O thou vnkindest fayre! most fayrest shee, In thine eyes tryumph murthering my poore hart, Now doe I sweare by heauens, before we part, My halfe-slaine hart shall take reuenge on thee. Thy mother dyd her lyfe to death resigne, And thou an Angell art, and from aboue; Thy father was a man, that will I proue, Yet thou a Goddesse art, and so diuine. And thus, if thou be not of humaine kinde, A Bastard on both sides needes must thou be; Our Lawes allow no land to basterdy: By natures Lawes we thee a bastard finde. Then hence to heauen, vnkind, for thy childs part: Goe bastard goe, for sure of thence thou art.
Rare of-spring of my thoughts, my dearest Loue, Begot by fancy on sweet hope exhortiue, In whom all purenes with perfection stroue, Hurt in the Embryon makes my ioyes abhortiue. And you, my sighes, Symtomas of my woe, The dolefull Anthems of my endelesse care, Lyke idle Ecchoes euer answering; so, The mournfull accents of my loues dispayre. And thou, Conceite, the shadow of my blisse, Declyning with the setting of my sunne, Springing with that, and fading straight with this, Now hast thou end, and now thou wast begun: Now was thy pryme, and loe! is now thy waine; Now wast thou borne, now in thy cradle slayne.
Plac'd in the forlorne hope of all dispayre Against the Forte where Beauties Army lies, Assayld with death, yet armed with gastly feare, Loe! thus my loue, my lyfe, my fortune tryes. Wounded with Arrowes from thy lightning eyes, My tongue in payne my harts counsels bewraying, My rebell thought for me in Ambushe lyes, To my lyues foe her Chieftaine still betraying. Record my loue in Ocean waues (vnkind) Cast my desarts into the open ayre, Commit my words vnto the fleeting wind, Cancell my name, and blot it with dispayre; So shall I bee as I had neuer beene, Nor my disgraces to the world be seene.
Why doe I speake of ioy, or write of loue, When my hart is the very Den of horror, And in my soule the paynes of hell I proue, With all his torments and infernall terror? Myne eyes want teares thus to bewayle my woe, My brayne is dry with weeping all too long; My sighes be spent with griefe and sighing so, And I want words for to expresse my wrong. But still, distracted in loues lunacy, And Bedlam like thus rauing in my griefe, Now rayle vpon her hayre, now on her eye, Now call her Goddesse, then I call her thiefe; Now I deny her, then I doe confesse her, Now I doe curse her, then againe I blesse her.
My hart the Anuile where my thoughts doe beate, My words the hammers fashioning my desire, My breast the forge, including all the heate, Loue is the fuell which maintaines the fire: My sighes the bellowes which the flame increaseth, Filling mine eares with noise and nightly groning, Toyling with paine my labour neuer ceaseth, In greeuous passions my woes styll bemoning. Myne eyes with teares against the fire stryuing, With scorching gleed my hart to cynders turneth; But with those drops the coles againe reuyuing, Still more and more vnto my torment burneth. With Sisiphus thus doe I role the stone, And turne the wheele with damned Ixion.
Blacke pytchy Night, companyon of my woe, The Inne of care, the Nurse of drery sorrow, Why lengthnest thou thy darkest howres so, Still to prolong my long tyme lookt-for morrow? Thou Sable shadow, Image of dispayre, Portraite of hell, the ayres black mourning weed, Recorder of reuenge, remembrancer of care, The shadow and the vaile of euery sinfull deed. Death like to thee, so lyue thou still in death, The graue of ioy, prison of dayes delight. Let heauens withdraw their sweet Ambrozian breath, Nor Moone nor stars lend thee their shining light; For thou alone renew'st that olde desire, Which still torments me in dayes burning fire.
Sweete secrecie, what tongue can tell thy worth? What mortall pen sufficiently can prayse thee? What curious Pensill serues to lim thee forth? What Muse hath power aboue thy height to raise thee? Strong locke of kindnesse, Closet of loues store, Harts Methridate, the soules preseruatiue; O vertue! which all vertues doe adore, Cheefe good, from whom all good things wee deriue. O rare effect! true bond of friendships measure, Conceite of Angels, which all wisdom teachest; O, richest Casket of all heauenly treasure, In secret silence which such wonders preachest. O purest mirror! wherein men may see The liuely Image of Diuinitie.
The golden Sunne vpon his fiery wheeles The horned Ram doth in his course awake, And of iust length our night and day doth make, Flinging the Fishes backward with his heeles: Then to the Tropicke takes his full Careere, Trotting his sun-steeds till the Palfrays sweat, Bayting the Lyon in his furious heat, Till Virgins smyles doe sound his sweet reteere. But my faire Planet, who directs me still, Vnkindly such distemperature doth bring, Makes Summer Winter, Autumne in the Spring, Crossing sweet nature by vnruly will. Such is the sunne who guides my youthfull season, Whose thwarting course depriues the world of reason.
Who list to praise the dayes delicious lyght, Let him compare it to her heauenly eye, The sun-beames to the lustre of her sight; So may the learned like the similie. The mornings Crimson to her lyps alike, The sweet of Eden to her breathes perfume, The fayre Elizia to her fayrer cheeke, Vnto her veynes the onely Phoenix plume. The Angels tresses to her tressed hayre, The Galixia to her more then white. Praysing the fayrest, compare it to my faire, Still naming her in naming all delight. So may he grace all these in her alone, Superlatiue in all comparison.
Define my loue, and tell the ioyes of heauen, Expresse my woes, and shew the paynes of hell; Declare what fate vnlucky starres haue giuen, And aske a world vpon my life to dwell. Make knowne that fayth vnkindnes could not moue; Compare my worth with others base desert: Let vertue be the tuch-stone of my loue, So may the heauens reade wonders in my hart. Behold the Clowdes which haue eclips'd my sunne, And view the crosses which my course doth let; Tell mee, if euer since the world begunne, So faire a Morning had so foule a set? And, by all meanes, let black vnkindnes proue The patience of so rare, diuine a loue.
When I first ended, then I first began; The more I trauell, further from my rest; Where most I lost, there most of all I wan; Pyned with hunger, rysing from a feast. Mee thinks I flee, yet want I legs to goe, Wise in conceite, in acte a very sot; Rauisht with ioy amidst a hell of woe, What most I seeme, that surest I am not. I build my hopes a world aboue the skye, Yet with a Mole I creepe into the earth: In plenty am I staru'd with penury, And yet I serfet in the greatest dearth. I haue, I want, dispayre, and yet desire, Burn'd in a Sea of Ice, and drown'd amidst a fire.
Goe you, my lynes, Embassadours of loue, With my harts tribute to her conquering eyes, From whence, if you one tear of pitty moue For all my woes, that onely shall suffise. When you Minerua in the sunne behold, At her perfections stand you then and gaze, Where in the compasse of a Marygold, Meridianis sits within a maze. And let Inuention of her beauty vaunt When Dorus sings his sweet Pamelas loue, And tell the Gods, Mars is predominant, Seated with Sol, and weares Mineruas gloue: And tell the world, that in the world there is A heauen on earth, on earth no heauen but this.
[from the Edition of 1599]
The worlds faire Rose, and Henries frosty fire, Iohns tyrannie; and chast Matilda's wrong, Th'inraged Queene, and furious Mortimer, The scourge of Fraunce, and his chast loue I song; Deposed Richard, Isabell exil'd, The gallant Tudor, and fayre Katherine, Duke Humfrey, and old Cobhams haplesse child, Couragious Pole, and that braue spiritfull Queene; Edward, and that delicious London Dame, Brandon, and that rich dowager of Fraunce, Surrey, with his fayre paragon of fame, Dudleys mishap, and vertuous Grays mischance; Their seuerall loues since I before haue showne, Now giue me leaue at last to sing mine owne.
To the Reader of his Poems
Into these loues who but for passion lookes, At this first sight, here let him lay them by, And seeke elsewhere in turning other bookes, Which better may his labour satisfie. No far-fetch'd sigh shall euer wound my brest, Loue from mine eye, a teare shall neuer wring, Nor in ah-mees my whyning Sonets drest, (A Libertine) fantasticklie I sing; My verse is the true image of my mind, Euer in motion, still desiring change, To choyce of all varietie inclin'd, And in all humors sportiuely I range; My actiue Muse is of the worlds right straine, That cannot long one fashion entertaine.
Many there be excelling in this kind, Whose well trick'd rimes with all inuention swell, Let each commend as best shall like his minde, Some Sidney, Constable, some Daniell. That thus theyr names familiarly I sing, Let none think them disparaged to be, Poore men with reuerence may speake of a King, And so may these be spoken of by mee; My wanton verse nere keepes one certaine stay, But now, at hand; then, seekes inuention far, And with each little motion runnes astray, Wilde, madding, iocond, and irreguler; Like me that lust, my honest merry rimes, Nor care for Criticke, nor regard the times.
My hart was slaine, and none but you and I, Who should I thinke the murder should commit? Since but your selfe, there was no creature by But onely I, guiltlesse of murth'ring it. It slew it selfe; the verdict on the view Doe quit the dead and me not accessarie; Well, well, I feare it will be prou'd by you, The euidence so great a proofe doth carry. But O, see, see, we need enquire no further, Vpon your lips the scarlet drops are found, And in your eye, the boy that did the murther, Your cheekes yet pale since first they gaue the wound. By this, I see, how euer things be past, Yet heauen will still haue murther out at last.
Nothing but no and I, and I and no, How falls it out so strangely you reply? I tell yee (Faire) Ile not be aunswered so, With this affirming no, denying I, I say I loue, you slightly aunswer I? I say you loue, you pule me out a no; I say I die, you eccho me with I, Saue me I cry, you sigh me out a no: Must woe and I, haue naught but no and I? No, I am I, If I no more can haue, Aunswer no more, with silence make reply, And let me take my selfe what I doe craue; Let no and I, with I and you be so, Then aunswer no, and I, and I, and no.
Loue once would daunce within my Mistres eye, And wanting musique fitting for the place, Swore that I should the Instrument supply, And sodainly presents me with her face: Straightwayes my pulse playes liuely in my vaines, My panting breath doth keepe a meaner time, My quau'ring artiers be the Tenours Straynes, My trembling sinewes serue the Counterchime, My hollow sighs the deepest base doe beare, True diapazon in distincted sound: My panting hart the treble makes the ayre, And descants finely on the musiques ground; Thus like a Lute or Violl did I lye, Whilst the proud slaue daunc'd galliards in her eye.
Loue in an humor played the prodigall, And bids my sences to a solemne feast, Yet more to grace the company withall, Inuites my heart to be the chiefest guest; No other drinke would serue this gluttons turne, But precious teares distilling from mine eyne, Which with my sighs this Epicure doth burne, Quaffing carouses in this costly wine, Where, in his cups or'come with foule excesse, Begins to play a swaggering Ruffins part, And at the banquet, in his drunkennes, Slew my deare friend, his kind and truest hart; A gentle warning, friends, thus may you see What 'tis to keepe a drunkard company.
To the Moone
Phaebe looke downe, and here behold in mee, The elements within thy sphere inclosed, How kindly Nature plac'd them vnder thee, And in my world, see how they are disposed; My hope is earth, the lowest, cold and dry, The grosser mother of deepe melancholie, Water my teares, coold with humidity, Wan, flegmatick, inclind by nature wholie; My sighs, the ayre, hote, moyst, ascending hier, Subtile of sanguine, dy'de in my harts dolor, My thoughts, they be the element of fire, Hote, dry, and piercing, still inclind to choller, Thine eye the Orbe vnto all these, from whence, Proceeds th' effects of powerfull influence.
To nothing fitter can I thee compare, Then to the sonne of some rich penyfather, Who hauing now brought on his end with care, Leaues to his son all he had heap'd together; This newe rich nouice, lauish of his chest, To one man giues, and on another spends, Then here he ryots, yet amongst the rest, Haps to lend some to one true honest friend. Thy gifts thou in obscuritie doost wast, False friends thy kindnes, borne but to deceiue thee, Thy loue, that is on the unworthy plac'd, Time hath thy beauty, which with age will leaue thee; Onely that little which to me was lent, I giue thee back, when all the rest is spent.
You not alone, when you are still alone, O God from you that I could priuate be, Since you one were, I neuer since was one, Since you in me, my selfe since out of me Transported from my selfe into your beeing Though either distant, present yet to eyther, Senceles with too much ioy, each other seeing, And onely absent when we are together. Giue me my selfe, and take your selfe againe, Deuise some means but how I may forsake you, So much is mine that doth with you remaine, That taking what is mine, with me I take you, You doe bewitch me, O that I could flie From my selfe you, or from your owne selfe I.