1630
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Muses Elizium IV: The Fourth Nimphall.

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


W. W. Greg: "The vulgar strains of the conventional pastoral make themselves heard" Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1906) 107.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "'The Felician frantique Dames' represent the 'Elysian' view of human women; the contextual purpose is no doubt the enhancing of the loveliness of the nymphs and their 'golden wishes,' but some personal bitterness is also present" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:221.

Alexander Chalmers: "Drayton was certainly not destitute of genius. His Pastorals and his Nymphidia may be advanced in proof of a more than common share of original fancy, and his descriptions are sometimes very striking; but the pains he took to be accurate, and the historical terms of 'the truth and nothing but the truth,' which he imposed on his Muse, left no scope for imagination, and made invention appear almost a crime. As he wrote with such views and such a taste, it is impossible to blame the present age for not being easily reconciled to go through his works, unless as a task" English Poets (1810) 4:xii.



Chaste Cloris doth disclose the shames
Of the Felician frantique Dames,
Mertilla strives t' apease her woe,
To golden wishes then they goe.

CLORIS. MERTILLA.

MERTILLA.
Why how now Cloris, what, thy head
Bound with forsaken Willow?
Is the cold ground become thy bed?
The grasse become thy pillow?
O let not those life-lightning eyes
In this sad vayle be shrowded,
Which into mourning puts the Skyes,
To see them over clowded.

CLORIS.
O my Mertilla doe not praise
These Lampes so dimly burning,
Such sad and sullen lights as these
Were onely made for mourning:
Their objects are the barren Rocks
With aged Mosse o'r shaded;
Now whilst the Spring layes forth her Locks
With blossomes bravely braded.

MERTILLA.
O Cloris, Can there be a Spring,
O my deare Nimph, there may not,
Wanting thine eyes it forth to bring,
Without which Nature cannot:
Say what it is that troubleth thee
Encreast by thy concealing,
Speake; sorrowes many times we see
Are lesned by revealing.

CLORIS.
Being of late too vainely bent
And but at too much leasure;
Not with our Groves and Downes content,
But surfetting in pleasure;
Felicia's Fields I would goe see,
Where fame to me reported,
The choyce Nimphes of the world to be
From meaner beauties sorted;
Hoping that I from them might draw
Some graces to delight me,
But there such monstrous shapes I saw,
That to this houre affright me.
Throw the thick Hayre, that thatch'd their Browes
Their eyes upon me stared,
Like to those raging frantique Froes
For Bacchus Feasts prepared:
Their Bodies, although straight by kinde,
Yet they so monstrous make them,
That for huge Bags blowne up with wind,
You very well may take them.
Their Bowels in their Elbowes are,
Whereon depend their Panches,
And their deformed Armes by farre
Made larger then their Hanches:
For their behaviour and their grace,
Which likewise should have priz'd them,
Their manners were as beastly base
As th' rags that so disguisd them;
All Anticks, all so impudent,
So fashon'd out of fashion,
As blacke Cocytus up had sent
Her Fry into this nation,
Whose monstrousnesse doth so perplex,
Of Reason and deprives me,
That for their sakes I loath my sex,
Which to this sadnesse drives me.

MERTILLA.
O my deare Cloris be not sad,
Nor with these Furies danted,
But let these female fooles be mad,
With Hellish pride inchanted;
Let not thy noble thoughts descend
So low as their affections;
Whom neither counsell can amend,
Nor yet the Gods corrections:
Such mad folks ne'r let us bemoane,
But rather scorne their folly,
And since we two are here alone,
To banish melancholly,
Leave we this lowly creeping vayne
Not worthy admiration,
And in a brave and lofty strayne,
Lets exercise our passion,
With wishes of each others good,
From our abundant treasures,
And in this jocond sprightly mood
Thus alter we our measures.

MERTILLA.
O I could wish this place were strewd with Roses,
And that this Banck were thickly thrumd with Grasse
As soft as Sleave, or Sarcenet ever was,
Whereon my Cloris her sweet selfe reposes.

CLORIS.
O that these Dewes Rosewater were for thee,
These Mists Perfumes that hang upon these thicks,
And that the Winds were All Aromaticks,
Which if my wish could make them, they should bee.

MERTILLA.
O that my Bottle one whole Diamond were,
So fild with Nectar that a Flye might sup,
And at one draught that thou mightst drinke it up,
Yet a Carouse not good enough I feare.

CLORIS.
That all the Pearle, the Seas, or Indias have
Were well dissolv'd, and thereof made a Lake,
Thou there in bathing, and I by to take
Pleasure to see thee cleerer then the Wave.

MERTILLA.
O that the hornes of all the Heards we see
Were of fine gold, or else that every horne
Were like to that one of the Unicorne,
And of all these, not one but were thy Fee.

CLORIS.
O that their Hooves were Ivory, or some thing,
Then the pur'st Ivory farre more Christalline,
Fild with the food wherewith the Gods doe dine,
To keepe thy Youth in a continuall Spring.

MERTILLA.
O that the sweets of all the Flowers that grow,
The labouring ayre would gather into one,
In Gardens, Fields, nor Meadowes leaving none,
And all their Sweetnesse upon thee would throw.

CLORIS.
Nay that those sweet harmonious straines we heare,
Amongst the lively Birds melodious Layes,
As they recording sit upon the Sprayes,
Were hovering still for Musick at thine eare.

MERTILLA.
O that thy name were carv'd on every Tree,
That as these plants, still great, and greater grow,
Thy name deare Nimph might be enlarged so,
That every Grove and Coppis might speake thee.

CLORIS.
Nay would thy name upon their Rynds were set,
And by the Nimphes so oft and lowdly spoken,
As that the Ecchoes to that language broken
Thy happy name might hourely counterfet.

MERTILLA.
O let the Spring still put sterne winter by,
And in rich Damaske let her Revell still,
As it should doe if I might have my will,
That thou mightst still walke on her Tapistry;
And thus since Fate no longer time alowes
Under this broad and shady Sicamore,
Where now we sit, as we have oft before,
Those yet unborne shall offer up their Vowes.

[pp. 37-41]