1619
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastorals V: The Fift Eclogue.

Pastorals. Contayning Eglogues. [In] Poems: By Michael Drayton Esquire.

Michael Drayton


Oliver Elton: "The lines of Rowland, very ripe and strong in feeling, on pp. 61-2 of [1606], were present almost identical in [1593]. This is to be noted, as showing that Drayton wrote in this characteristic vein, and so well, at thirty years of age. The terms of the praise of Idea are also changed, and the delicate little evening picture at the end, of the lowering skies, and the cottage cheer, is perfected in [1606]" Introduction to Michael Drayton (1895) 53.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "In 1606 almost every stanza was recast and a few omitted. Drayton's intention was evidently here not solely the tightening up of style and metre; the revised panegyric expresses a somewhat different and more Platonic attitude to Idea, and this is emphasized by the self-criticism introduced by Motto's comment and Rowland's scruples (151ff)" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:185.



Come, let us frollike merrily, my Swaine,
Let's see what Spirit there quickens yet in thee,
If there so much be left but as a Graine,
Of the great stock of antike Poesie,
Or living but one slip of PHOEBUS sacred Tree.

Or if reserv'd from Times devouring rage,
With his sad Ruines scorning once to fall,
Any Memoriall left thee as a gage:
Or the delight of simple Pastorall,
May thee revive, whom care seemes to appall.

To Fortunes Orphanes Nature hath bequeath'd,
What mightiest Monarchs seldome have possest,
From highest Heaven this influence is breath'd,
The most Divine Impression of the brest,
And whom th' one pines, the other oft doth feast.

Nor doth 't affect this fond Gentilitie,
Whereon the Foole World open-mouthed gazes,
Thinking it selfe of great abilitie,
That it a great great Grandsires Glorie blazes,
And paints out Fictions in untimely Phrases.

Idlely we thinke that Honour can inflame
These moving Pictures, made but for the Street,
(We daily find) that overlive their name,
And blacke Oblivion is their winding sheet,
Their Glorie trodden under vulgar feet.

Envie discharging all her poys'ned Darts,
The valiant minde is temp'red with that fire,
At her fierce loose that weakly never starts,
But in despight, doth force her to retyre,
With carelesse feet and spurnes her in the myre.

ROWLAND.
I may not sing of such as fall nor clime,
Nor chaunt of Armes, and of Heroike Deeds,
It fitteth not a Shepheards rurall Rime,
Nor is agreeing with my Oaten Reeds:
Nor from my Song, grosse Flatt'rie proceeds.

On the Worlds Idols I doe hate to smile,
Nor shall their Names e'r in my Page appeare,
To bolster Basenesse I account it vile,
'Tis not their Lookes, nor Greatnesse that I feare,
Nor shall 't be knowne by me, that such there were.

No fatall Dreads, nor fruitlesse vaine Desires,
Low Caps and Court'sies to a painted Wall,
Nor heaping rotten sticks on needlesse fires,
Ambitious waies to climbe, nor feares to fall,
Nor things so base doe I affect at all.

MOTTO.
If these, nor these may like thy varying Quill,
As of too high, or of too low a straine,
That doe not aptly paralell thy skill,
Nor well agreeing with a Shepheards vaine,
Subjects (suppos'd) ill to beseeme a Swaine.

Then tune thy Pipe to thy IDEA's praise,
And teach the Woods to wonder at her name,
Thy lowly Notes so maist thou lightly raise,
And thereby others happily inflame:
Yet thou the whilst, stand farthest off from blame.

Thy Temples then with Lawrell shall be dight,
When as thy Muse got hie upon her wing,
With nimble Pineons shall direct her flight,
To th' place from whence all Harmonies doe spring,
To rape the Fields with touches of her string.

ROWLAND.
Shepheard, since thou so strongly do'st perswade,
And her just worth so amply us affoords,
O sacred Furie, all my Powers invade,
All fulnesse flowes from thy abundant hoords,
Her prayse requires the excellentest words.

Shall I then first sing of her heavenly eye,
To it attracting every other sight?
May a poore Shepheards praise aspire so hye,
Which if the Sunne should give us up to Night,
The Stars from it should fetch a purer Light.

Or that faire brow, where Beautie keepes her state,
There still residing as her proper Spheare,
Which when the World she meaneth to amate,
Wonder invites to stand before her there,
Throughout the World the praise thereof to beare.

Or touch her cheeke, deare Natures Treasurie,
Whereas she stores th' abundance of her Blisse,
Where of her selfe, she 'xacts such usurie,
That she's else needie by inwealthying this,
And like a Miser her rich chest doth kisse.

Or those pure hands in whose delicious Palmes,
Love takes delight the Palmester to play,
Whose christall fingers dealing heavenly Almes,
Give the whole wealth of all the World away.
O, who of these sufficiently can say!

Or th' Ivorie Columnes, which this Fane upbeare,
Where DIAN's Nuns their Goddesse doe adore,
Before her, ever sacrificing there,
Her hallowed Altars kneeling still before,
Where more they doe performe, their Zeale the more:

Unconning Shepheard of these praise I none,
Although surpassing, yet let I them passe,
Nor in this kind her Excellence is showne,
To sing of these, not my intent it was,
Our Muse must undergoe a waightier masse,

And be directed by a straighter line,
Which me must unto higher Regions guide,
That I her Vertues rightly may define,
From me my selfe that's able to divide,
Unlesse by them my weaknesse be supplide.

That be the end whereat I only ayme,
Which to performe, I faithfully must strive,
Faire as I can to build this goodly frame,
And every part so aptly to contrive,
That time from this Example may derive.

In whom, as on some wel-prepared Stage,
Each morall Vertue acts a Princely part,
Where every Scene pronounced by a Sage,
Hath the true fulnesse both of Wit and Art,
And wisely stealeth the Spectators heart,

That every censure worthily doth brooke,
And unto it a great attention drawes,
In t'which when Wisdome doth severely looke,
Often therewith she forced is to pause,
To yeeld a free and generall applause.

Who unto goodnesse can she not excite,
And in the same not teacheth to be wise,
And deeply seene in each obsequious rite,
Wherein of that some mystery there lyes,
Which her sole studie is, and only exercise?

But the great'st Volume, nor exactest Comment,
Wherein art ever absolutest shined,
Nor the small'st Letter filling up the Margent,
Yet every space with matter interlined,
In the high'st Knowledge, rightly her defined.

O! if but sense effectually could see,
What is in her t'be worthily admired,
How infinite her Excellencies bee,
The date of which can never be expired,
From her high praise, the World could not be hired.

But since that Heaven must onely be the Mirror,
Wherein the World can her perfections view,
And Fame is strooken silent with the terror,
Wanting wherewith to pay what is her due,
Colours can give her nothing that is new.

Then since there wants abilitie in colours,
Nor Pensill yet sufficiently can blaze her,
For her Ile make a Mirror of my dolours,
And in my teares sheest' looke her selfe and prayse her:
Happy were I, if such a Glasse might please her.

Goe, gentle winds, and whisper in her Eare,
And tell IDEA, how much I adore her,
And you, my Flocks, report yee to my Faire,
How farre she passeth all that went before her,
And as their Goddesse all the Plaines adore her.

And thou, cleere Brooke, by whose pure silver streame
Grow those tall Okes, where I have carv'd her name,
Convay her prayse to NEPTUNES watry Realme,
And bid the Tritons to sound forth her Fame,
Untill wide NEPTUNE scarce containe the same.

MOTTO.
Stay there, good ROWLAND, whither art thou rapt,
Beyond the Moone that strivest thus to straine?
Into what phrensie lately art thou hapt,
That in this sort intoxicates thy Braine,
Much disagreeing from a Shepheards vaine?

ROWLAND.
MOTTO, why me so strangely shouldst thou tempt,
Above my strength with th' Magick of her stile?
The scope of which from limits is exempt,
As be all they that of it doe compile,
Able to raise the spirit that is most vile.

Didst thou me first unto her prayses stirre,
And now at last, dost thou againe refuse me?
What if perhaps with too much love I erre,
And that therein the forward Muse abuse me?
The cause thou gav'st is able to excuse me.

MOTTO.
ROWLAND then cease, reserve thy plenteous Muse,
Till future time, thy simple oaten Reed
Shall with a farre more glorious rage infuse,
To sing the glory of some Worthies deed:
For this I thinke, but little shall thee steed.

ROWLAND.
Shepheard, farewell, the Skyes begin to lowre,
Yon pitchy Cloud, that hangeth in the West,
Shewes us, ere long, that we shall have a showre:
Come, let us home, for I so thinke it best,
For to their Cotes our Flocks are gone to rest.

MOTTO.
Content, and if thoul't come to my poore Cote,
Although, GOD knowes, my cheere be very small,
For wealth with me was never yet a-flote:
YColumnes, which what ever doe befall,
Wee'll sit and turne a Crab, and tune a Madrigall.

[pp. 448-53]