Michael Drayton (1563-1631)

From Idea (1594, revised 1619)

Because Idea's Mirror and, eventually, Idea were so frequently revised/reordered, I've omitted numbers from before the titles.

Read Idea in its entirety at Luminarium.

Read some comments by John Erskine.

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Visit Anniina Jokinen's Michael Drayton page.

"Like an adventurous seafarer am I"

Like an adventurous seafarer am I,
Who hath some long and dang'rous voyage been,
And called to tell of his discovery,
How far he sailed, what countries he had seen;
Proceeding from the port whence he put forth,
Shows by his compass how his course he steered,
When east, when west, when south, and when by north,
As how the pole to ev'ry place was reared,
What capes he doubled, of what continent,
The gulfs and straits that strangely he had passed,
Where most becalmed, where with foul weather spent,
And on what rocks in peril to be cast:
Thus in my love, time calls me to relate
My tedious travels and oft-varying fate.

"As other men, so I myself do muse"

As other men, so I myself do muse
Why in this sort I wrest invention so,
And why these giddy metaphors I use,
Leaving the path the greater part do go.
I will resolve you: I am lunatic,
And ever this in madmen you shall find
What they last thought of, when the brain grew sick,
In most distraction they keep that in mind.
Thus talking idly in this bedlam fit,
Reason and I, you must conceive, are twain;
'Tis nine years now since first I lost my wit,
Bear with me, then, though troubled be my brain.
With diet and correction, men distraught
(Not too far past) may to their wits be brought.

"To nothing fitter can I thee compare"

To nothing fitter can I thee compare
Than to the son of some rich penny-father,
Who having now brought on his end with care,
Leaves to his son all he had heaped together;
This new-rich novice, lavish of his chest,
To one man gives, doth on another spend,
Then here he riots; yet amongst the rest
Haps to lend some to one true honest friend.
Thy gifts thou in obscurity dost waste,
False friends thy kindness, born but to deceive thee;
Thy love, that is on the unworthy placed;
Time hath thy beauty, which with age will leave thee;
Only that little which to me was lent,
I give thee back, when all the rest is spent.

"A witless gallant, a young wench that wooed"

A witless gallant, a young wench that wooed
(Yet his dull spirit her not one jot could move),
Entreated me, as e'er I wished his good
To write him but one sonnet to his love;
When I, as fast as e'er my pen could trot,
Poured out what first from quick invention came,
Nor never stood one word thereof to blot,
Much like his wit, that was to use the same;
But with my verses he his mistress won,
Who doted on the dolt beyond all measure.
But see, for you to heav'n for phrase I run,
And ransack all Apollo's golden treasure;
Yet by my froth this fool his love obtains,
And I lose you for all my wit and pains.

"Methinks I see some crooked mimic jeer"

Methinks I see some crooked mimic jeer,
And tax my muse with this fantastic grace;
Turning my papers, asks, What have we here?
Making withal some filthy antic face.
I fear no censure, nor what thou canst say,
Nor shall my spirit one jot of vigor lose
Think'st thou my wit shall keep the pack-horse way
That ev'ry dudgeon low invention goes?
Since sonnets thus in bundles are impressed,
And ev'ry drudge doth dull our satiate ear,
Think'st thou my love shall in those rags be dressed
That ev'ry dowdy, ev'ry trull doth wear?
Up to my pitch no common judgment flies,
I scorn all earthly dung-bred scarabies.

"Our floods' queen, Thames, for ships and swans is crowned"

Our floods' queen, Thames, for ships and swans is crowned,
And stately Severn for her shore is praised;
The crystal Trent for fords and fish renowned,
And Avon's fame to Albion's cliffs is raised;
Carlegion Chester vaunts her holy Dee;
York many wonders of her Ouse can tell,
The Peak her Dove, whose banks so fertile be,
And Kent will say her Medway doth excel;
Cotswold commends her Isis to the Tame;
Our northern borders boast of Tweed's fair flood;
Our western parts extol their Wylye's fame,
And the old Lea brags of the Danish blood;
Arden's sweet Anker, let thy glory be
That fair Idea only lives by thee.

"Some misbelieving and profane in love"

Some misbelieving and profane in love,
When I do speak of miracles by thee,
May say that thou art flattered by me
Who only write my skill in verse to prove;
See miracles, ye unbelieving, see
A dumb-born muse made to express 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 seen of thine,
And mine ears deaf by thy fame healed be,
My vices cured by virtues sprung from thee,
My hopes revived, which long in grave had lyne;
All unclean thoughts foul spirits cast out in me
Only by virtue that proceeds from thee.

Dear, why should you command me to my rest,

Dear, why should you command me to my rest,
When now the night doth summon all to sleep?
Methinks this time becometh lovers best:
Night was ordained together friends to keep.
How happy are all other living things,
Which though the day disjoin by several flight,
The quiet Evening yet together brings,
And each returns unto his love at night!
O thou that art so courteous unto all,
Why shouldst thou, Night, abuse me only thus,
That every creature to his kind dost call,
And yet 'tis thou dost only sever us?
Well could I wish it would be ever day,
If, when night comes, you bid me go away.

"Some men there be which like my method well"

Some men there be which like my method well,
And much commend the strangeness of my vein;
Some say I have a passing pleasing strain,
Some say that in my humor I excel;
Some, who not kindly relish my conceit,
They say, as poets do, I use to feign,
And in bare words paint out my passion's pain.
Thus sundry men their sundry minds repeat.
I pass not, I, how men affected be,
Nor who commends or discommends my verse;
It pleaseth me if I my woes rehearse,
And in my lines if she my love may see.
Only my comfort still consists in this,
Writing her praise I cannot write amiss.

"Whilst thus my pen strives to eternize thee"

Whilst thus my pen strives to eternize thee,
Age rules my lines with wrinkles in my face,
Where, in the map of all my misery,
Is modeled out the world of my disgrace;
Whilst in despite of tyrannizing times,
Medea-like I make thee young again.
Proudly thou scorn'st my world-outwearing rhymes,
And murther'st virtue with thy coy disdain;
And though in youth my youth untimely perish
To keep thee from oblivion and the grave,
Ensuing ages yet my rhymes shall cherish,
Where I, entombed, my better part shall save;
And though this earthly body fade and die,
My name shall mount upon eternity.

"In pride of wit, when high desire of fame"

In pride of wit, when high desire of fame
Gave life and courage to my lab'ring pen,
And first the sound and virtue of my name
Won grace and credit in the ears of men;
With those the thronged theaters that press
I in the circuit for the laurel strove,
Where the full praise, I freely must confess,
In heat of blood, a modest mind might move.
With shouts and claps at ev'ry little pause,
When the proud round on ev'ry side hath rung,
Sadly I sit, unmoved with the applause,
As though to me it nothing did belong.
No public glory vainly I pursue,
All that I seek is to eternize you.

"Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part"

Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part,
Nay I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one lot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of love's latest breath,
When his pulse failing, passion speechless lies,
When faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And innocence is closing up his eyes,
-Now if thou would'st, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover!

"Truce, gentle love, a parley now I crave"

Truce, gentle love, a parley now I crave;
Methinks 'tis long since first these wars begun,
Nor thou, nor I, the better yet can have,
Bad is the match where neither party won.
I offer free conditions of fair peace,
My heart for hostage that it shall remain;
Discharge our forces, here let malice cease,
So for my pledge thou give me pledge again;
Or if no thing but death will serve thy turn,
Still thirsting for subversion of my state,
Do what thou canst, raze, massacre, and burn,
Let the world see the utmost of thy hate;
I send defiance, since if overthrown,
Thou vanquishing, the conquest is mine own.

Glossed Words (Click on title to return to poem.)

"Methinks I see some crooked mimic jeer"

scarabies, beetles.