1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Drayton

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 23-24.



Drayton (circa 1563-1631) was of humble parentage, and from his earliest years showed a taste for poetry. He is one of the most voluminous of the rhyming tribe. Pope somewhere speaks of "a very mediocre poet, one Drayton." The slight is undeserved. Drayton's works extend to above one hundred thousand verses. The work on which his fame rested in his own day is the Polyolbion, a minute chorographcial description of England and Wales. Most of his principal pieces were published before his was thirty years of age. His spirited Battle of Agincourt had been the model for many similar productions; and there is much playful grace in the fairy fancies of his Nimphidia. May not [Joseph Rodman] Drake have taken a hint from it in his Culprit Fay?