1630
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Muses Elizium: The Description of Elizium.

The Muses Elizium, lately discovered, by a new way over Parnassus. The Passages therein, being the Subject of ten sundry Nymphalls, leading three Divine Poemes, Noahs Floud. Moses, his Birth and Miracles. David and Golia. By Michael Drayton Esquire.

Michael Drayton


Thomas Corser: the Description of Elizium "is written in four-line rhyming verses. This is intended as an introduction to the pastoral strains contained in the ten Books or Nymphalls, which are written in dialogues, with different characters introduced into each, and composed in different metres. They contain many beautiful passages, descriptive of rural life and pastoral scenes, some of them, in harmony and sprightly fancy, almost equalling any of his earlier compositions" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 6 (1877) 306-07.

Thomas Campbell: "Of the great beauties of poetry he has none; but of the sparkling lightness of his best manner an example may be given in ... his sketch of the Poet's Elysium" Specimens of the British Poets (1819, 1842) lxv.

E. K. Chambers: "The Introduction to The Muses' Elizium (1630). These fascinating and little-known poems are half made up of pastoral, half of fairy lore" English Pastorals (1906) 132.

Charles Mills Gayley: "If, as others have conjectured, the Earl [of Dorset] is himself the Dorilus of the Nimphalls, the exquisite Description of Elizium which precedes may be, after the fashion of the poets and painters of the Renaissance, an idealized picture of Knole Park, where Drayton had probably been received" Francis Beaumont (1910) 191.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "Drayton is writing a new kind of pastoral. He has abandoned the presentation of real persons, the symbolizing of the poet as shepherd, the intermittent realism of the shepherd's profession and environment, and the rustic-archaic diction. Neither Rowland nor Hodge could be at home in Elizium; the very names are now wholly classical. When a 'real' shepherd, Melanthus, is admitted, he is seen at one remove; he relates the details of a shepherd's life to the admiring nymphs, to whom it appears to have all the charm of novelty. The Muses Elizium is not in line with the work of seventeenth-century eclogue-writers, such as Browne, Wither, and Brathwaite. Drayton is nearer to the masques of Jonson, the masque in The Tempest, and pastoral dramas such as Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:219.

David Norbrook: "In 'The Muses Elizium' Drayton drew a stark contrast between the 'golden world' of his own imagination, a world evoking the glories of Elizabethan poetry, and the current state of the England of his day, ironically named 'Felicia', which had sunk into 'sordid slavery' and neglected the Muses" Poetry and Politics (1984) 248.

A Florimel character appears as a character in several of the eclogues.



A paradice on earth is found,
Though farre from vulgar sight,
Which with those pleasures doth abound
That it Elizium hight.

Where, in Delights that never fade,
The Muses lulled be,
And sit at pleasure in the shade
Of many a stately tree,

Which no rough Tempest makes to reele
Nor their straight bodies bowes,
Their lofty tops doe never feele
The weight of winters snowes;

In Groves that evermore are greene,
No falling leafe is there,
But Philomel (of birds the Queene)
In Musicke spends the yeare.

The Merle upon her mertle Perch,
There to the Mavis sings,
Who from the top of some curld Berch
Those notes redoubled rings;

There Daysyes damaske every place
Nor once their beauties lose,
That when proud Phoebus hides his face
Themselves they scorne to close.

The Pansy and the Violet here,
As seeming to descend,
Both from one Root, a very payre,
For sweetnesse yet contend,

And pointing to a Pinke to tell
Which beares it, it is loath,
To judge it; but replyes, for smell
That it excels them both,

Wherewith displeasde they hang their heads
So angry soone they grow
And from their odoriferous beds
Their sweets at it they throw.

The winter here a Summer is,
No waste is made by time,
Nor doth the Autumne ever misse
The blossomes of the Prime.

The flower that July forth doth bring
In Aprill here is seene,
The Primrose that puts on the Spring
In July decks each Greene.

The sweets for soveraignty contend
And so abundant be,
That to the very Earth they lend
And Barke of every Tree:

Rills rising out of every Banck,
In wilde Meanders strayne,
And playing many a wanton pranck
Upon the speckled plaine,

In Gambols and lascivious Gyres
Their time they still bestow
Nor to their Fountaines none retyres,
Nor on their course will goe

Those Brooks with Lillies bravely deckt,
So proud and wanton made,
That they their courses quite neglect:
And seeme as though they stayde,

Faire Flora in her state to viewe
Which through those Lillies looks,
Or as those Lillies leand to shew
Their beauties to the brooks.

That Phoebus in his lofty race,
Oft layes aside his beames
And comes to coole his glowing face
In these delicious streames;

Oft spreading Vines clime up the Cleeves,
Whose ripned clusters there,
Their liquid purple drop, which drives
A Vintage through the yeere.

Those Cleeves whose craggy sides are clad
With Trees of sundry sutes,
Which make continuall summer glad,
Even bending with their fruits,

Some ripening, ready some to fall,
Some blossom'd, some to bloome,
Like gorgeous hangings on the wall
Of some rich princely Roome:

Pomegranates, Lymons, Cytrons, so
Their laded branches bow,
Their leaves in number that outgoe
Nor roomth will them alow.

There in perpetuall Summers shade,
Apolloes Prophets sit
Among the flowres that never fade,
But flowrish like their wit;

To whom the Nimphes upon their Lyres,
Tune many a curious lay,
And with their most melodious Quires
Make short the longest day.

The thrice three Virgins heavenly Cleere,
Their trembling Timbrels sound,
Whilst the three comely Graces there
Dance many a dainty Round,

Decay nor Age there nothing knowes,
There is continuall Youth,
As Time on plant or creatures growes,
So still their strength renewth.

The Poets Paradice this is,
To which but few can come;
The Muses onely bower of blisse
Their Deare Elizium.

Here happy soules, (their blessed bowers,
Free from the rude resort
Of beastly people) spend the houres,
In harmelesse mirth and sport,

Then on to the Elizian plaines
Apollo doth invite you
Where he provides with pastorall straines,
In Nimphals to delight you.

[pp. 1-4]