1622 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Drayton

William Browne of Tavistock, "To my Honoured Friend Mr. Drayton" (1622) in Works, ed. Goodwin (1893) 2:313-14.



England's brave Genius, raise thy head, and see,
We have a Muse in this mortality
Of virtue yet survives; all met not death,
When we entomb'd our dear Elizabeth.
Immortal Sydney, honour'd Colin Clout,
Presaging what we feel, went timely out.
Then why lives Drayton, when the times refuse
Both means to live, and matter for a Muse?
Only without excuse to leave us quite,
All tell us, Durst we act, he durst to write.

Now, as the people of a famish'd town,
Receiving no supply, seek up and down
For mouldy corn, and bones long cast aside,
Wherewith their hunger may be satisfied:
(Small store now left) we are enforc'd to pry
And search the dark leaves of antiquity
For some good name, to raise our Muse again,
In this her crisis, whose harmonious strain
Was of such compass, that no other nation
Durst ever venture on a sole translation:
Whilst our full language, musical and high,
Speaks as themselves their best of poesy.

Drayton, amongst the worthiest of all those
The glorious laurel, or the Cyprian rose
Have ever crown'd, doth claim in every line
An equal honour from the sacred Nine:
For if old Time could, like the restless main,
Roll himself back into his spring again,
And on his wings bear this admired Muse
For Ovid, Virgil, Homer, to peruse,
They would confess, that never happier pen
Sung of his loves, his country, and the men.