1630
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Muses Elizium V: The Fift 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


Michael Drayton's discourse on garlands appears to be taken from George Buc's Of Crowns and Garlands (1605).

British Lady's Magazine: "Our fair readers, in this Nymphal, have not only a very pleasing enumeration of flowers, herbs, and simples, illustrated by the venerable opinions and superstitions which hang about vegetation in every country, but a very delightful allusion to the crowns and garlands of antiquity. — And here we cannot help comparing the gracefulness and significance of the ancient customs to the modern mode of honouring by coat-armour, which, if at one time composed with attention to symbol, is now as mystic as the Runic rhime or Egyptian hieroglyphic" 4 (November 1816) 329.

Leigh Hunt: "We know little or nothing of the common flowers among the ancients; but as violets in general have their due mention among the poets that have come down to us, it is to be concluded that the heart's ease could not miss it's particular admiration.... 'There's rosemary,' says poor Ophelia; 'that's for remembrance; — pray you, love, remember; — and there is pansies, — that's for thoughts.' Drayton, in his world of luxuries, the Muse's Elysium, where he fairly stifles you with sweets, has given, under this name of it, a very brilliant image of it's effect in a wreath of flowers. . . 'The pretty Pansy then I'll tye, | Like stones some chain enchanting'" note to Feast of the Poets (1814) 112-14.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "'This Nymphall nought but sweetnesse breathes'; it is the culmination of the earlier pastoral flower-lists. In its setting and the account of the virtues of herbs it may owe something to Faithful Shepherdess II, but the parallels with Poly Olbion XIII rather suggest the picture of hermit sorting herbs is a memory of the poet's youth" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:221.



Of Garlands, Anadems, and Wreathes
This Nimphall nought but sweetnesse breathes,
Presents you with delicious Posies,
And with powerfull Simples closes.

CLAIA, LELIPA, CLARINAX a Hermit.

CLAIA.
See where old Clarinax is set,
His sundry Simples sorting,
From whose experience we may get
What worthy is reporting.
Then Lelipa let us draw neere,
Whilst he his weeds is weathering,
I see some powerfull Simples there
That he hath late bin gathering.
Haile gentle Hermit, Jove thee speed,
And have thee in his keeping,
And ever helpe thee at thy need,
Be thou awake or sleeping.

CLARINAX.
Ye payre of most Celestiall lights,
O Beauties three times burnisht,
Who could expect such heavenly wights
With Angels features furnisht;
What God doth guide you to this place,
To blesse my homely Bower?
It cannot be but this high grace
Proceeds from some high power;
The houres like hand maids still attend,
Disposed at your pleasure,
Ordayned to noe other end
But to awaite your leasure;
The Deawes drawne up into the Aer,
And by your breathes perfumed,
In little Clouds doe hover there
As loath to be consumed:
The Aer moves not but as you please,
So much sweet Nimphes it owes you,
The winds doe cast them to their ease,
And amorously inclose you.

LELIPA.
Be not too lavish of thy praise,
Thou good Elizian Hermit,
Lest some to heare such words as these,
Perhaps may flattery tearme it;
But of your Simples something say,
Which may discourse affoord us,
We know your knowledge lyes that way,
With subjects you have stor'd us.

CLAIA.
We know for Physick yours you get,
Which thus you heere are sorting,
And upon Garlands we are set,
With Wreathes and Posyes sporting:
Each Garden great abundance yeelds,
Whose Flowers invite us thither;
But you abroad in Groves and Fields
Your Medc'nall Simples gather.

LELIPA.
The Chaplet and the Anadem,
The curled Tresses crowning,
We looser Nimphes delight in them,
Not in your Wreathes renowning.

CLARINAX.
The Garland long agoe was worne,
As Time pleasd to bestow it,
The Lawrell onely to adorne
The Conquerer and the Poet.
The Palme his due, who uncontrould,
On danger looking gravely,
When Fate had done the worst it could,
Who bore his Fortunes bravely.
Most worthy of the Oken Wreath
The Ancients him esteemed,
Who in a Battle had from death
Some man of worth redeemed.
About his Temples Grasse they tye,
Himselfe that so behaved
In some strong Seedge by th' Enemy,
A City that hath saved.
A Wreath of Vervaine Herhauts weare,
Amongst our Garlands named,
Being sent that dreadfull newes to beare,
Offensive warre proclaimed.
The Signe of Peace who first displayes,
The Olive Wreath possesses:
The Lover with the Myrtle Sprayes
Adornes his crisped Tresses.
In Love the sad forsaken wight
The Willow Garland weareth:
The Funerall man befitting night,
The balefull Cipresse beareth.
To Pan we dedicate the Pine,
Whose slips the Shepherd graceth:
Againe the Ivie and the Vine
On his, swolne Bacchus placeth.

CLAIA.
The Boughes and Sprayes, of which you tell,
By you are rightly named,
But we with those of pretious smell
And colours, are enflamed;
The noble Ancients to excite
Men to doe things worth crowning,
Not unperformed left a Rite,
To heighten their renowning:
But they that those rewards devis'd,
And those brave wights that wore them
By these base times, though poorely priz'd,
Yet Hermit we adore them.
The store of every fruitfull Field
We Nimphes at will possessing,
From that variety they yeeld
Get Flowers for every dressing:
Of Which a Garland Ile compose,
Then busily attend me,
These Flowers I for that purpose chose,
But where I misse amend me.

CLARINAX.
Well Claia on with your intent,
Lets see how you will weave it,
Which done, here for a monument
I hope with me, you'll leave it.

CLAIA.
Here Damaske Roses, white and red,
Out of my lap first take I,
Which still shall runne along the thred,
My chiefest Flower this make I:
Amongst these Roses in a row,
Next place I Pinks in plenty,
These double Daysyes then for show,
And will not this be dainty.
The pretty Pansy then Ile tye
Like Stones some chaine inchasing,
And next to them their neere Alye,
The purple Violet placing.
The curious choyce, Clove July-flower
Whose kinds height the Carnation
For sweetnesse of most soveraine power
Shall helpe my Wreath to fashion.
Whose sundry cullers of one kinde
First from one Root derived,
Them in their severall sutes Ile binde,
My Garland so contrived;
A course of Cowslips then Ile stick,
And here and there though sparely
The pleasant Primrose downe Ile prick
Like Pearles, which will show rarely:
Then with these Marygolds Ile make
My Garland somewhat swelling,
These Honysuckles then Ile take,
Whose sweets shall helpe their smelling:
The Lilly and the Flower-delice,
For colour much contenting,
For that, I them doe onely prize,
They are but pore in senting:
The Daffadill most dainty is
To match with these in meetnesse;
The Columbyne compar'd to this,
All much alike for sweetnesse.
These in their natures onely are
Fit to embosse the border,
Therefore Ile take especiall care
To place them in their order:
Sweet-Williams, Campions, Sops-in-wine
One by another neatly:
Thus have I made this Wreath of mine,
And finished it featly.

LELIPA.
Your Garland thus you finisht have,
Then as we have attended
Your leasure, likewise let me crave
I may the like be friended.
Those gaudy garish Flowers you chuse,
In which our Nimphes are flaunting,
Which they at Feasts and Brydals use,
The sight and smell inchanting:
A Chaplet me of Hearbs Ile make,
Then which though yours be braver,
Yet this of myne I'le undertake
Shall not be short in savour.
With Basill then I will begin,
Whose scent is wondrous pleasing,
This Eglantine I'le next put in,
The sense with sweetnes seasing.
Then in my Lavender I'le lay,
Muscado put among it,
And here and there a leafe of Bay,
Which still shall runne along it.
Germander, Marjeram, and Tyme
Which used for strewing,
With Hisop as an hearbe most pryme
Here in my wreath bestowing.
Then Balme and Mynt helps to make up
My Chaplet, and for Tryall,
Costmary that so likes the Cup,
And next it Penieryall.
Then Burnet shall beare up with this
Whose leafe I greatly fansy,
Some Camomile doth not amisse
With Savory and some Tansy,
Then heere and there I'le put a sprig
Of Rosemary into it.
Thus not too little nor too big
Tis done if I can doe it.

CLARINAX.
Claia your Garland is most gaye,
Compos'd of curious Flowers,
And so most lovely Lelipa,
This Chaplet is of yours,
In goodly Gardens yours you get
Where you your laps have laded;
My symples are by Nature set,
In Groves and Fields untraded.
Your Flowers most curiously you twyne,
Each one his place supplying,
But these rough harsher Hearbs of mine,
About me rudely lying,
Of which some dwarfish Weeds there be,
Some of a larger stature,
Some by experience as we see,
Whose names expresse their nature,
Heere is my Moly of much fame,
In Magicks often used,
Mugwort and Night-shade for the same,
But not by me abused;
Here Henbane, Popy, Hemblock here,
Procuring Deadly sleeping,
Which I doe minister with Feare,
Not fit for each mans keeping.
Heere holy Vervayne, and heere Dill,
Against witchcraft much availing,
Here Horhound gainst the Mad dogs ill
By biting, never failing.
Here Mandrake that procureth love,
In poysning Philters mixed,
And makes the Barren fruitfull prove,
The Root about them fixed,
Inchaunting Lunary here lyes
In Sorceries excelling,
And this is Dictam, which we prize
Shot shafts and Darts expelling,
Here Saxifrage against the stone
That Powerfull is approved,
Here Dodder by whose help alone,
Ould Agues are removed;
Here Mercury, here Helibore,
Ould Ulcers mundifying,
And Shepheards-purse the Flux most sore,
That helpes by the applying;
Here wholsome Plantane, that the payne
Of Eyes and Eares appeases;
Here cooling Sorrell that againe
We use in hot diseases:
The medcinable Mallow here,
Asswaging sudaine Tumors,
The jagged Polypodium there,
To purge ould rotten humors,
Next these here Egremony is,
That helpes the Serpents byting,
The blessed Betony by this,
Whose cures deserven writing:
This All-heale, and so nam'd of right,
New wounds so quickly healing,
A thousand more I could recyte,
Most worthy of Revealing,
But that I hindred am by Fate,
And busnesse doth prevent me,
To cure a mad man, which of late
Is from Felicia sent me.

CLAIA.
Nay then thou hast inough to doe,
We pity thy enduring,
For they are there infected soe,
That they are past thy curing.

[pp. 42-49]