1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Drayton

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 11 September 1831; in Table Talk (1884) 137-38.



Drayton is a sweet poet, and Selden's notes to the early part of the Polyoblion are well worth your perusal. Daniel is a superior man; his diction is pre-eminently pure — of that quality which I believe has always existed somewhere in society. It is just such English as Wordsworth or Sir George Beaumont might have spoken or written in the present day.

Yet there are instances of sublimity in Drayton. When deploring the cutting down of some of our old forests, he says, in language which reminds the reader of Lear, written subsequently, and also of several of Mr. Wordsworth's poems:—

—our trees so hack'd above the ground,
That where their lofty tops the neighbouring countries crown'd,
Their trunks (like aged folks) now bare and naked stand,
As for revenge to heaven each held a wither'd hand.
(Polyolb. VII)

That is very fine.