1619
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastorals VIII: The Eighth Eclogue.

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

Michael Drayton


Revised from the sixth eclogue in Shepherds Garland (1593), and an earlier version in Pastorals (1606). "Olcon" is James I; "Mirtilla," "Thyrsis," and "Palmeo" have been identified as Elizabeth, John, and Francis Beaumont. On the identifications of the characters see the Hebel edition of Drayton's Works.

Thomas Corser: "In this Pastoral [of 1606] is also introduced a very remarkable passage, not to be found in any other edition of his works, in which Drayton notices in very severe terms a lady under the name of Selena, who had formerly lent him her patronage but afterwards abandoned him, and transferred her favour to another whom he calls by the savage name of Ceberon, and of whom along with the lady he speaks in very bitter and vituperative terms.... Whether these lines may have had reference to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, to whom Drayton had dedicated some of his earlier works, and who had apparently, from some cause or other, withdrawn her patronage from him before this time — whether by Cerberon was intended Nash or Marlowe or some wilder or less moral poet than himself — or whom is meant by some great person whom he calls Olcon, who had formerly patronized but had now forsaken him, and of whom so strong lines are inserted; of these it is very difficult at this remote period of time to ascertain. But whoever they refer to, Drayton thought proper afterwards to withdraw these stanzas entirely, and they are only to be found in this edition (1606), and are another instance of its rarity and value" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 6 (1877) 281-82.

Oliver Elton: "In the Poemes Lyrick and Pastorall, 1606, where the pastorals of 1593 are remodelled, the eighth, formerly sixth, contains a new passage reviling a certain Selena in terms, which, were they addressed to any real woman, would be brutal even if just. Selena had promised to raise the estate of Rowland (Drayton), but, breaking faith, has allied herself with a certain base Cerberon. Therefore, cries the poet, 'let age sit soon and ugly on her brow,' and let no one strew flowers on her forgotten grave, let her be remembered no more in rhyme. Cerberon is not identified; but it is said that this language must refer to Lady Bedford, and that Drayton, splenetic perhaps at supplies being withheld in favour of some new client, dealt her this low buffet in verse.... The witness for the supposed breach thus reduces itself to the tirade against Selena. It would then follow that between 1605 and April 19, 1606, when the new pastorals were entered, Drayton ceased to think the Countess the essence of his chiefest good, forgot all his gratitude, and wrote these fierce and irreparable Spenserian verses. This is possible in theory; but the charge is so serious, and so unlike all else that is known of a man tenacious in his friendships, that much firmer evidence than this is wanted to commend it" Introduction to Michael Drayton (1895) 9-10.

Charles Mills Gayley: "The 'golden-mouthed Drayton musical' had spent his youth not many miles from 'wild Charnwood,' at Polesworth Hall, the home of the Gooderes, in Warwickshire. The dear nymph of Charnwood is Elizabeth Beaumont, in 1606 a lass of eighteen, — and the 'hopeful boys' who bring the southern shepherds (Jonson, perhaps, and young John Fletcher, as well as Drayton) to their Grace-Dieu priory by the river Soar, are John, then about twenty-three, and the future dramatist, about twenty-two. Under the pastoral pseudonym of Mirtilla, Elizabeth is again celebrated by Drayton some twenty-four years later, in his Muses Elizium. Since these Pastorals are in confessed sequence with those of 'the prime pastoralist of England,' and the pastoral Thyrsis and young Palmeo have already sung divinely of the clear waters of their native stream, it would appear that they too are disciples at that time of Master Edmund Spenser in his Shepheards Calender" Francis Beaumont (1910) 43-44.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "The introductory dialogue (1-60) was retained in 1606, but revised line by line; the remainder of the eclogue first appeared in 1606, taking the place of a diffuse and vague panegyric of Pandora (the Countess of Pembroke). The eclogue has thus become, like the Elphin eclogue, much more actual and documentary. One passage was evidently too bitterly autobiographical to be retained in 1619; the four stanzas attacking Selena (Lucy, Countess of Bedford) and Cerberon are only in 1606" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:186.



PERKIN.
It joyes me, GORBO, yet we meet at last,
'Tis many a Mon'th since I the Shepheard saw,
Me thinkes thou look'st as thou wert much agast,
What is't so much that should thy courage awe?
What, man? Have Patience, Wealth will come and go,
And to the end the World shall ebbe and flow.

The valiant man, whose thoughts be firmly placed,
And sees sometime how Fortune list to rage,
That by her frownes he would not be disgraced,
By Wisdome his straight Actions so doth gage,
That when she fawnes, and turnes her squinting eye,
He laughes to scorne her loose Inconstancie.

When as the Cullian, and the viler Clowne,
That like the Swine on Draffe sets his desire,
Feeling the tempest, sadly layes him downe,
Whilst that blind Strumpet treads him in the mire:
Yet tasting Weale, the Beast will quickly bray,
But feeling wo, as soone consumes away.

GORBO.
PERKIN, I thy Philosophie approve,
And know who well hath learn'd her sacred wayes,
The stormes of Fortune not so easly move,
With her high Precepts arm'd at all assayes,
When other folke her force may not indure,
Because they want that Med'cine for their cure.

Yet altogether blam'd let me not passe,
Though often I, and worthily admire,
Wisemen disgraced, and the barbarous Asse
Unto high place and dignitie aspire:
What should I say, that Fortune is to blame?
Or unto what should I impute the shame?

PERKIN.
Why, she is Queene here of this World below,
That at her pleasure all things doth dispose,
And blind, her gifts as blindly doth bestow,
Yet where she raises, still she overthrowes:
Therefore her Embleme is a turning Wheele,
From whose high top the high soon'st downward reele.

Gave she her gifts to vertuous men and wise,
Shee should confirme this worldly state so sure,
That very Babes her Godhead would despise,
Nor longer here her Government endure:
Best she may give from whom she ever takes,
Fooles she may marre, for Fooles she ever makes.

For her owne sake we Wisdome must esteeme,
And not how other basely her regard:
For howsoe'r disgraced she doth seeme,
Yet she her owne is able to reward,
And none are so essentially hie,
As those that on her bountie doe relie.

GORBO.
O but, good Shepheard, tell me where beene they,
That as a God did Vertue so adore?
And for her Impes did with such care purvey?
Ah, but in vaine, their want we doe deplore,
Long time since swaddled in their winding Sheet:
And she I thinke is buried at their feet.

PERKIN.
Nay, stay, good GORBO, Vertue is not dead,
Nor beene her friends gone all that wonned here,
But to a Nymph, for succour she is fled,
Which her doth cherish, and most holdeth deare,
In her sweet bosome she hath built her Nest,
And from the World, there doth she live at rest.

This is that Nymph, on that great Westerne Waste
Her Flocks far whither then the driven Snow,
Faire Shepherdesse, cleere Willies bankes that grac'd,
Yet she them both for purenesse doth out-goe:
To whom all Shepheards dedicate their Layes,
And on her Altars offer up their Bayes.

Sister, sometime she to that Shepheard was,
That yet for piping never had his Peere,
ELPHIN, that did all other Swaines surpasse,
To whom she was of living things most deare,
And on his Death-bed by his latest Will,
To her bequeth'd the Secrets of his Skill.

GORBO.
May we yet hope then in their weaker kind,
That there be some, poore Shepheards that respect:
The World else universally inclin'd,
To such an inconsiderate neglect,
And the rude times their ord'rous matter fling,
Into the sacred and once hallowed Spring.

Women be weake, and subject most to change,
Nor long to any can they stedfast bee,
And as their Eyes, their Minds doe ever range,
With every object varying that they see:
Think'st thou in them that possibly can live,
Which Nature most denyeth them to give?

No other is the stedfastnesse of those,
On whom even Nature will us to rely,
Fraile is it that the Elements compose,
Such is the state of all mortalitie,
That as the humour in the bloud doth move,
Lastly doe hate, what lately they did love.

So did great OLCON, which a PHOEBUS seem'd,
Whom all good Shepheards gladly flock'd about,
And as a God of ROWLAND was esteem'd,
Which to his prayse drew all the rurall Rout:
For, after ROWLAND, as it had beene PAN,
Onely to OLCON every Shepheard ran.

But he forsakes the Heard-groome and his Flocks,
Nor of his Bag-pipes takes at all no keepe,
But to the sterne Wolfe and deceitfull Fox,
Leaves the poore Shepheard and his harmelesse Sheepe,
And all those Rimes that he of OLCON sung,
The Swayne disgrac'd, participate his wrong.

PERKIN.
Then since the Worlds distemp'rature is such,
And Man made blind by her deceitfull show,
Small Vertue in their weaker Sexe is much,
And to it in them much the Muses owe,
And praysing some may happily inflame,
Others in time with liking of the same.

As those two Sisters most discreetly wise,
That Vertues hests religiously obey,
Whose prayse my skill is wanting to comprize,
Th' eld'st of which is that good PANAPE,
In shadie Arden her deare Flocke that keepes,
Where mournefull Ankor for her sicknesse weepes.

The yonger then, her Sister not lesse good,
Bred where the other lastly doth abide,
Modest IDEA, flowre of Womanhood,
That ROWLAND hath so highly Deifide:
Whom PHOEBUS Daughters worthily prefer,
And give their gifts aboundantly to her.

Driving her Flocks up to the fruitfull Meene,
Which daily lookes upon the lovely Stowre,
Neere to that Vale, which of all Vales is Queene,
Lastly, forsaking of her former Bowre:
And of all places holdeth Cotswold deere,
Which now is proud, because shee lives it neere.

Then is deere SYLVIA one the best alive,
That once in Moreland by the silver Trent,
Her harmelesse Flockes as harmelesly did drive,
But now allured to the Fields of Kent:
The faithfull'st Nymph where ever that shee wonne,
That at this day, doth live under the Sunne.

Neere Ravensburne in Cotage low shee lyes,
There now content her calme repose to take,
The perfect cleerenesse of whose lovely eyes,
Hath oft inforc'd the Shepheards to forsake
Their Flocks, and Folds, and on her set their keepe,
Yet her chaste thoughts still settled on her Sheepe.

Then that deare Nymph that in the Muses joyes,
That in wild Charnwood with her Flocks doth goe,
MIRTILLA, Sister to those hopefull Boyes,
My loved THIRSIS, and sweet PALMEO:
That oft to Soar the Southerne Shepheards bring,
Of whose cleere waters they divinely sing.

So good shee is, so good likewise they bee,
As none to her might brother be but they,
Nor none a Sister unto them, but shee,
To them for wit few like, I dare well say:
In them as nature truely meant to show,
How neere the first, shee in the last could goe.

GORBO.
Shepheard, their prayse thou dost so cleerely sing,
That even when Groves their Nightingales shall want,
Nor Valleyes heard with rurall notes to ring:
And every-where when Shepheards shall be scant:
Their names shall live from memorie unrazed,
Of many a Nymph and gentle Shepheards praised.

[pp. 463-66]