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in 1603. Drayton acted as an esquire to his patron, Sir Walter Aston, in the ceremony of his installation as a Knight of the Bath. The poet expected some patronage from the new sovereign, but was disappointed. He published the first part of his most elaborate work, the Polyolbion, in 1612, and the second in 1622, the whole forming a poetical description of England, in thirty songs, or books.
The Polyolbion is a work entirely unlike any other in English poetry, both in its subject and the manner in which it is written. It is full of topographical and antiquarian details, with innumerable allusions to remarkable events and persons, as connected with various localities; yet such is the poetical genius of the author, so happily does he idealise almost everything he touches on, and so lively is the flow of his verse, that we do not readily tire in perusing this vast mass of information. He seems to have followed the manner of Spenser in his unceasing personifications of natural objects, such as hills, rivers, and woods. The information contained in this work is in general so accurate, that it is quoted as an authority by Hearne and Wood.
In 1627, Drayton published a volume containing The Battle of Agincourt, The Court of Faerie, and other poems. Three years later appeared another volume, entitled The Muses' Elysium, from which it appears that he had found a final shelter in the family of the Earl of Dorset. On his death in 1631, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument, containing an inscription in letters of gold, was raised to his memory by the wife of that nobleman, the justly celebrated Lady Anne Clifford, subsequently Countess of Pembroke and Montgomery.
Drayton, throughout the whole of his writings, voluminous as they are, shows the fancy and feeling of the true poet. According to Mr Headley-He possessed a very considerable fertility of mind, which enabled him to distinguish himself in almost every species of poetry, from a trifling sonnet to a long topographical poem. If he anywhere sinks below himself, it is in his attempts at satire. In a most pedantic era, he was unaffected, and seldom exhibits his learning at the expense of his judgment.'
[Morning in Warwickshire-Description of a
When Phoebus lifts his head out of the winter's wave,
No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave,
But hunts-up to the morn the feath. 'red sylvans sing:
Then from her burnisht gate the goodly glitt'ring
Gilds every lofty top, which late the humorous night Bespangled had with pearl, to please the morning's sight;
On which the mirthful quires, with their clear open throats,
Unto the joyful morn so strain their warbling notes, That hills and vallies ring, and even the echoing air Seems all composed of sounds, about them everywhere. The throstle, with shrill sharps; as purposely he song T' awake the listless sun; or chiding, that so long He was in coming forth, that should the thickets thrill;
The ouzel near at hand, that hath a golden bill,
Upon his dulcet pipe the merle1 doth only play.
And, but that nature (by her all-constraining law)
That moduleth her tunes so admirably rare,
The red-sparrow, the nope, the red-breast, and the wren. The yellow-pate; which though she hurt the blooming
Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she. And of these chaunting fowls, the goldfinch not behind,
The tydy for her notes as delicate as they,
To kiss the gentle shade, this while that sweetly
sleeps. And near to these our thicks, the wild and frightful. herds, Not hearing other noise but this of chattering birds, Feed fairly on the lawns; both sorts of seasoned deer: Here walk the stately red, the freckled fallow there: The bucks and lusty stags amongst the rascals strew'd, As sometime gallant spirits amongst the multitude.
Of all the beasts which we for our venerial2 name, The hart among the rest, the hunter's noblest game:
Of all birds, only the blackbird whistleth. Of hunting, or chase.
As though up by the roots the bushes he would rive. And through the cumb'rous thicks, as fearfully he makes,
He with his branched head the tender saplings shakes, That sprinkling their moist pearl do seem for him to weep; When after goes the cry, with yellings loud and deep, That all the forest rings, and every neighbouring place: And there is not a hound but falleth to the chase. Rechating with his horn, which then the hunter cheers,
Whilst still the lusty stag his high-palm'd head upbears,
His body showing state, with unbent knees upright, Expressing from all beasts, his courage in his flight. But when th' approaching foes still following he perceives,
That he his speed must trust, his usual walk he leaves: And o'er the champain flies; which when the assembly find,
Each follows, as his horse were footed with the wind. But being then imbost, the noble stately deer When he hath gotten ground (the kennel cast arrear) Doth beat the brooks and ponds for sweet refreshing soil; That serving not, then proves if he his scent can foil, And makes amongst the herds, and flocks of shagwool'd sheep, Them frighting from the guard of those who had their keep. But when as all his shifts his safety still denies, Put quite out of his walk, the ways and fallows tries; Whom when the ploughman meets, his teem he letteth stand, T'assail him with his goad: so with his hook in hand, The shepherd him pursues, and to his dog doth hallow: When, with tempestuous speed, the hounds and huntsmen follow;
The track of the foot.
One of the measures in winding the horn.
Until the noble deer, through toil bereav'd of strength,
He turns upon his foes, that soon have him inclosed. The churlish-throated hounds then holding him at bay,
And as their cruel fangs on his harsh skin they lay, With_his_sharp-pointed head he dealeth deadly
The hunter, coming in to help his wearied hounds, He desperately assails; until opprest by force, He who the mourner is to his own dying corse, Upon the ruthless earth his precious tears lets fall! To forests that belongs. *
[Part of the Twenty-eighth Song of the Polyolbion.]
But, Muse, return at last, attend the princely Trent, Who straining on in state, the north's imperious flood, The third of England call'd, with many a dainty wood, Being crown'd to Burton comes, to Needwood where
Herself in all her pomp ; and as from thence she flows, She takes into her train rich Dove, and Darwin clear, Darwin, whose font and fall are both in Derbyshire; And of those thirty floods, that wait the Trent upon, Doth stand without compare, the very paragon.
Thus wand'ring at her will, as uncontroll'd she
Her often varying form, as variously and changes; First Erwash, and then Lyne, sweet Sherwood sends
her in ;
Then looking wide, as one that newly wak'd had been, Saluted from the north, with Nottingham's proud height,
So strongly is surpris'd, and taken with the sight,
In which she sees herself above her neighbours bless'd. As wrap'd with the delights, that her this prospect brings,
In her peculiar praise, lo thus the river sings:
Fetch her descent from Wales, from that proud mountain sprung,
Plinillimon, whose praise is frequent them among, As of that princely maid, whose name she boasts to bear,
Bright Sabrin, whom she holds as her undoubted heir, Let these imperious floods draw down their long de
From these so famous stocks, and only say of Trent,
1 The hart weepeth at his dying; his tears are held to be precious in medicine.
That Moreland's barren earth me first to light did bring, Which though she be but brown, my clear complexion'd spring Gain'd with the nymphs such grace, that when I first did rise,
The Naiads on my brim danc'd wanton hydagies, And on her spacious breast (with heaths that doth abound)
Encircled my fair fount with many a lusty round:
Their banks are barren sands, if but compar'd with
I throw my crystal arms along the flow'ry valleys, Which lying sleek and smooth as any garden alleys, Do give me leave to play, whilst they do court my
And crown my winding banks with many an anadem ;
As nature had thereon bestow'd this stronger guard,
His very near ally, and both for scale and fin,
Food to the tyrant pike (most being in his power), Who for their numerous store he most doth them devour;
The lusty salmon then, from Neptune's wat'ry realm, When as his season serves, stemming my tideful stream,
Then being in his kind, in me his pleasure takes,
Of many a liquorish lip, that highly is regarded.
Not Ancum's silver'd eel excelleth that of Trent ; Though the sweet smelling smelt be more in Thames
The lamprey, and his lesse, in Severn general be;
The flounder smooth and flat, in other rivers caught,
Since they but little are, I little need to speak
From all the rest alone, whose shell is all his bones :
To lakes and standing pools that chiefly do belong, Here scouring in my fords, feed in my waters clear, Are muddy fish in ponds to that which they are
For she was let to know, that Soare had in her song So chanted Charnwood's worth, the rivers that along, Amongst the neighbouring nymphs there was no other lays,
But those which scem'd to sound of Charnwood, and
(As one that had both long, and worthily maintain'd
pared: Wherefore she, as a nymph that neither fear'd nor
For ought to her might chance, by others love or hate,
With resolution arm'd against the power of fate,
How he hath cousen'd them, that him would have betray'd;
How often he hath come to Nottingham disguised,
When setting to their lips their little beugles shrill The warbling echoes waked from every dale and hill: Their bauldricks set with studs, athwart their shoulders cast,
To which under their arms their sheafs were buckled fast,
A short sword at their belt, a buckler scarce a span,
They not an arrow drew, but was a cloth yard long.
Their arrows finely pair'd, for timber, and for feather, With birch and brazil pieced, to fly in any weather; And shot they with the round, the square, or forked pile,
The loose gave such a twang, as might be heard a mile. And of these archers brave, there was not any one, But he could kill a deer his swiftest speed upon, Which they did boil and roast, in many a mighty wood,
Sharp hunger the fine sauce to their more kingly food. Then taking them to rest, his merry men and he Slept many a summer's night under the greenwood
From wealthy abbots' chests, and churls' abundant store,
[David and Goliah.]
And now before young David could come in,
His head uncovered, and his locks of hair
Suiting to these he wore a shepherd's scrip,
Which when Goliah saw, Why, boy,' quoth he,
The kites and ravens are not far away,
That for thy shape, the monster art of men;
In meantime David looking in his face,
When down he came, like an old o'ergrown oak,
With a fair comely gait; nor doth he run,
Now the Philistines, at this fearful sight, Leaving their arms, betake themselves to flight, Quitting their tents, nor dare a minute stay; Time wants to carry any thing away, Being strongly routed with a general fear; Yet in pursuit Saul's army strikes the rear To Ekron walls, and slew them as they fled, That Sharam's plains lay cover'd with the dead : And having put the Philistines to foil, Back to the tents retire and take the spoil Of what they left; and ransacking, they cry, 'A David, David, and the victory!'
When straightway Saul his general, Abner, sent For valiant David, that incontinent
He should repair to court; at whose command
The celebrated translation of Tasso's Jerusalem, by EDWARD FAIRFAX, was made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and dedicated to that princess, who was proud of patronising learning, but not very lavish in its support. The poetical beauty and freedom of Fairfax's version has been the theme of almost universal praise. Dryden ranked him with Spenser as a master of our language, and Waller said he derived from him the harmony of his numbers. Collins has finely alluded to his poetical and imaginative genius
Prevailing poet, whose undoubting mind Believed the magic wonders which he sung! The date of Fairfax's birth is unknown. He was the natural son of Sir Thomas Fairfax of Denton, in Yorkshire, and spent his life at Fuystone, in the forest of Knaresborough, in the enjoyment of many blessings which rarely befall the poetical race-competence, ease, rural scenes, and an ample command of the means of study. He wrote a work on Demonology, which is still in manuscript, and in the preface to it he states, that in religion he was neither a fantastic Puritan, nor a superstitious Papist.' He also wrote a series of eclogues, one of which was published in 1741, in Cooper's Muses' Library, but it is puerile and absurd. Fairfax was living in 1631, but the time of his death has not been recorded.
[Description of Armida and her Enchanted Girdle.] And with that word she smiled, and ne'ertheless Her love-toys still she used, and pleasures bold : Her hair (that done) she twisted up intress, And looser locks in silken laces roll'd; Her curls, garland-wise, she did up dress, Wherein, like rich enamel laid on gold, The twisted flow'rets smil'd, and her white breast The lilies there that spring with roses drest.
The jolly peacock spreads not half so fair
[Rinaldo at Mount Olivet and the Enchanted Wood.] It was the time, when 'gainst the breaking day, Rebellious night yet strove, and still repined, For in the east appear'd the morning grey, And yet some lamps in Jove's high palace shined, When to Mount Olivet he took his way, And saw, as round about his eyes he twined, Night's shadows hence, from thence the morning's shine, This bright, that dark; that earthly, this divine. Thus to himself he thought: how many bright And 'splendent lamps shine in heaven's temple high! Day hath his golden sun, her moon the night, Her fix'd and wand'ring stars the azure sky; So framed all by their Creator's might, That still they live and shine, and ne'er will die, Till in a moment, with the last day's brand They burn, and with them burn sea, air, and land. Thus as he mused, to the top he went, And there kneel'd down with reverence and fear; His eyes upon heaven's eastern face he bent; His thoughts above all heavens uplifted were— The sins and errors which I now repent, Of my unbridled youth, O Father dear, Remember not, but let thy mercy fall And purge my faults and my offences all. Thus prayed he; with purple wings up-flew, In golden weed, the morning's lusty queen, Begilding with the radiant beams she threw, His helm, the harness, and the mountain green : Upon his breast and forehead gently blew The air, that balm and nardus breath'd unseen ; And o'er his head, let down from clearest skies, A cloud of pure and precious dew there flies. The heavenly dew was on his garments spread, And sprinkled so that all that paleness fled, To which compar'd, his clothes pale ashes seem, And thence of purest white bright rays outstream: So cheered are the flowers, late withered, With the sweet comfort of the morning beam; And so return'd to youth, a serpent old Adorns herself in new and native gold.
The lovely whiteness of his changed weed