1627 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Drayton

Ben Jonson, "The Vision of Ben Jonson, on the Muses of his Friend, M. Drayton" Drayton, Battaile of Agincourt (1627) sigs a-a1.



It hath beene question'd, MICHAEL, if I bee
A Friend at all; or, if at all, to thee:
Because, who make the question, have not seene
Those ambling visits, passe in verse, betweene
Thy Muse, and mine, as they expect. 'Tis true:
You have not write to me, nor I to you;
And, though I now begin, 'tis not to rub
Hanch against Hanch, or raise a riming Club
About the towne: this reck'ning I will pay,
Without conferring symboles. This's my day.

It was no Dreame! I was awake, and saw!
Lend me thy voyce, O FAME, that I may draw
Wonder to truth! and have my Vision hoorld,
Hot from thy trumpet, round, about the world.

I saw a Beauty from the Sea to rise,
That all Earth look'd on; and that earth, all Eyes!
It cast a beame as when the chear-full Sun
Is fayre got up, and day some houres begun!
And fill'd an Orbe as circular, as heaven!
The Orbe was cut forth into Regions seaven.
And those so sweet, and well proportion'd parts,
As it had beene the circle of the Arts!
When, by thy bright Ideas standing by,
I found it pure, and perfect Poesy,
There read I, streight, thy learned Legends three,
Heard the soft ayres, between our Swaynes and thee,
Which made me thinke, the old Theocritus,
Or Rurall Virgil come, to pipe to us!
But then, thy epistolar Heroick Songs,
Their loves, their quarrels, jealousies, and wrongs,
Did all so strike me, as I cry'd, who can
With us be call'd, the Naso, but this man?
And looking up, I saw Minervas fowle,
Pearch'd over head, the wise Athenian Owle:
I thought thee then our Orpheus, that wouldst try
Like him, to make the ayre, one volary:
And I had stil'd thee, Orpheus, but before
My lippes could forme the voyce, I heard that Rore,
And Rouze, the Marching of a mighty force,
Drums against Drums, the neighing of the Horse,
The Fights, the Cryes, and wondring at the Jarres
I saw, and read, it was thy Barons Warres!
O, how in those, dost thou instruct these times,
That Rebells actions, are but valiant crimes!
And caried, though with shoute, and noyse, confesse
A wild, and an authoriz'd wickednesse!
Sayst thou so, Lucan? But thou scornst to stay
Under one title. Thou hast made thy way
And flight about the Ile, well neare, by this,
In thy admired Periegesis,
Or universall circumduction
Of all that reade thy Poly-Olbion.
That reade it? that are ravish'd! such was I
With every song, I sweare, and so would dye:
But that I heare, againe, thy Drume to beate
A better cause, and strike the bravest heate
That ever yet did fire the English blood!
Our right in France! if ritely understood.
There, thou art Homer! Pray thee, use the stile
Thou hast deserv'd: And let me reade the while
Thy Catalogue of Ships, exceeding his,
Thy list of aydes, and force, for so it is:
The Poets act! and for his Country's sake
Brave are the Musters, that the Muse will make.
And when he ships them where to use their Armes,
How do his trumpets breath! What loud alarmes!
Looke, how we read the Spartans were inflam'd
With bold Tyrtaeus verse, when thou art nam'd,
So shall our English Youth urge on, and cry
An Agincourt, an Agincourt, or dye.
This booke! it is a Catechisme to sight,
And will be bought of every Lord, and Knight,
That can but reade; who cannot, may in prose
Get broken peeces, and fight well by those.
The miseries of Margaret the Queene
Of tender eyes will more be wept, then seene:
I feele it by mine owne, that over flow,
And stop my sight, in every line I goe.
But then refreshed, with thy Fayerie Court,
I looke on Cynthia, and Sirenas sport,
As, on two flowry Carpets, that did rise,
And with their grassie greene restor'd mine eyes.
Yet give mee leave, to wonder at the birth
Of thy strange Moon-Calfe, both thy straine of mirth,
And Gossip-got acquaintance, as, to us
Thou hadst brought Lapland, or old Cobalus,
Empusa, Lamia, or some Monster, more
Then Affricke knew, or the full Grecian store!
I gratulate it to thee, and thy Ends,
To all thy vertuous, and well chosen Friends,
Onely my losse is, that I am not there:
And, till I worthy am to wish I were,
I call the world, that envies mee, to see
If I can be a Friend, and Friend to thee.