1630
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Muses Elizium VIII: The Eight 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


In the eighth Nimphall Michael Drayton introduces further variety by presenting a pastoral-fairy-epithalamion.

European Magazine: "In the Muses Elysium, we find the following articles, a gift of one of the Fairies. 'A cup in fashion of a fly, | Of the Lynx's piercing eye.' Mr. Hayley, in his Triumph of Temper, (if I recollect right) has the same idea applied to the shield of the Genius who visits Serena. — He might have read and remembered this passage" 10 (November 1786) 362.

The Kaleidoscope: "His Nymphidia, the Court of Fayrie, is the most pleasing effort of his genius, and appears to have been a work upon which he has spared no labour" NS 8 (21 August 1827) 52.

Oliver Elton: "To compare the Shepherd's Garland with The Muses' Elizium is to feel that the first is an Elizabethan poem, while the second is a Caroline poem, written under the same class of influences, with the same flow and glory of rhythm, as the verse of Carew" Michael Drayton, a Critical Study (1905) 136.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "This description of the nymphs' preparation for a fairy wedding and their rehearsal of their Prothalamion belongs to a group of elaborately 'diminutive' fairy-poems, by Browne, Herrick, and Sir Simeon Steward, whose relative chronology is obscure.... It does not seem likely that this Nymphal could be written to celebrate a real wedding; there are, however, possible references to Kent in ll. 174, 200" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:222.

Richard F. Hardin: "Symptomatic of the change [in taste] is the fairy poetry of 'Nimphidia' and the eighth pastoral of The Muses Elizium (1630), where we see not the human-sized fairies, the longaevi (long-lived ones) of Spenser and the Middle Ages, but the miniature folk of Herrick and after" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 225.



A Nimph is marryed to a Fay,
Great preparations for the Day,
All Rites of Nuptials they recite you
To the Brydall and invite you.

MERTILLA. CLAIA. CLORIS.

MERTILLA.
But will our Tita wed this Fay?

CLAIA.
Yea, and to morrow is the day.

MERTILLA.
But why should she bestow her selfe
Upon this dwarfish Fayry Elfe?

CLAIA.
Why by her smalnesse you may finde,
That she is of the Fayry kinde,
And therefore apt to chuse her make
Whence she did her begining take:
Besides he's deft and wondrous Ayrye,
And of the noblest of the Fayry,
Chiefe of the Crickets of much fame,
In Fayry a most ancient name.
But to be briefe, 'tis cleerely done,
The pretty wench is woo'd and wonne.

CLORIS.
If this be so, let us provide
The Ornaments to fit our Bryde,
For they knowing she doth come
From us in Elizium,
Queene Mab will looke she should be drest
In those attyres we thinke our best,
Therefore some curious things lets give her,
E'r to her Spouse we her deliver.

MERTILLA.
Ile have a Jewell for her eare,
(Which for my sake Ile have her weare)
'T shall be a Dewdrop, and therein
Of Cupids I will have a twinne,
Which strugling, with their wings shall break
The Bubble, out of which shall leak
So sweet a liquor as shall move
Each thing that smels, to be in love.

CLAIA.
Beleeve me Gerle, this will be fine,
And to this Pendant, then take mine;
A Cup in fashion of a Fly,
Of the Linxes piercing eye,
Wherein there sticks a Sunny Ray
Shot in through the cleerest day,
Whose brightnesse Venus selfe did move,
Therein to put her drinke of Love,
Which for more strength she did distill,
The Limbeck was a Phoenix quill,
At this Cups delicious brinke,
A Fly approaching but to drinke,
Like Amber or some precious Gumme
It transparant doth become.

CLORIS.
For Jewels for her eares she's sped,
But for a dressing for her head
I thinke for her I have a Tyer,
That all Fayryes shall admyre,
The yellowes in the full-blowne Rose,
Which in the Top it doth inclose
Like drops of gold Oare shall be hung,
Upon her Tresses, and among
Those scattered seeds (the eye to please)
The wings of the Cantharides:
With some o' th' Raine-bow that doth raile
Those Moons in, in the Peacocks taile:
Whose dainty colours being mixt
With th' other beauties, and so fixt,
Her lovely Tresses shall appeare,
As though upon a flame they were.
And to be sure she shall be gay,
Wee'll take those feathers from the Jay;
About her eyes in Circlets set,
To be our Tita's Coronet.

MERTILLA.
Then dainty Girles I make no doubt,
But we shall neatly send her out:
But let's amongst our selves agree,
Of what her wedding Gowne shall be.

CLAIA.
Of Pansie, Pincke, and Primrose leaves,
Most curiously laid on in Threaves:
And all embroydery to supply,
Powthred with flowers of Rosemary:
A trayle about the skirt shall runne,
The Silke-wormes finest, newly spunne;
And every Seame the Nimphs shall sew
With th' smallest of the Spinners Clue:
And having done their worke, againe
These to the Church shall beare her Traine:
Which for our Tita we will make
Of the cast slough of a Snake,
Which quivering as the winde doth blow,
The Sunne shall it like Tinsell shew.

CLORIS.
And being led to meet her mate,
To make sure that she want no state,
Moones from the Peacockes tayle wee'll shred,
With feathers from the Pheasants head:
Mixd with the plume of (so high price,)
The precious bird of Paradice.
Which to make up, our Nimphes shall ply
Into a curious Canopy,
Borne o're her head (by our enquiry)
By Elfes, the fittest of the Faery.

MERTILLA.
But all this while we have forgot
Her Buskins, neighbours, have we not?

CLAIA.
We had, for those I'le fit her now,
They shall be of the Lady-Cow:
The dainty shell upon her backe
Of Crimson strew'd with spots of blacke;
Which as she holds a stately pace,
Her Leg will wonderfully grace.

CLORIS.
But then for musicke of the best,
This must be thought on for the Feast.

MERTILLA.
The Nightingale of birds most choyce,
To doe her best shall straine her voyce;
And to this bird to make a Set,
The Mavis, Merle, and Robinet;
The Larke, the Lennet, and the Thrush,
That make a Quier of every Bush.
But for still musicke, we will keepe
The Wren, and Titmouse, which to sleepe
Shall sing the Bride, when shee's alone
The rest into their chambers gone.
And like those upon Ropes that walke
On Gossimer, from staulke to staulke,
The tripping Fayry tricks shall play
The evening of the wedding day.

CLAIA.
But for the Bride-bed, what were fit,
That hath not beene talk'd of yet.

CLORIS.
Of leaves of Roses white and red,
Shall be the Covering of her bed:
The Curtaines, Valence, Tester, all,
Shall be the flower Imperiall,
And for the Fringe, it all along
With azure Harebels shall be hung:
Of Lillies shall the Pillowes be,
With downe stuft of the Butterflee.

MERTILLA.
Thus farre we handsomely have gone,
Now for our Prothalamion
Or Marriage song of all the rest,
A thing that much must grace our feast.
Let us practise then to sing it,
Ere we before th' assembly bring it:
We in Dialogues must doe it,
Then my dainty Girles set to it.

CLAIA.
This day must Tita marryed be,
Come Nimphs this nuptiall let us see.

MERTILLA.
But is it certaine that ye say,
Will she wed the noble Faye?

CLORIS.
Sprinckle the dainty flowers with dewes,
Such as the Gods at Banquets use:
Let Hearbs and Weeds turne all to Roses,
And make proud the posts with posies:
Shute your sweets into the ayre,
Charge the morning to be fayre.

CLAIA. MERTILLA.
For our Tita is this day,
To be married to a Faye.

CLAIA.
By whom then shall our Bride be led
To the Temple to be wed.

MERTILLA.
Onely by your selfe and I,
Who that roomth should else supply?

CLORIS.
Come bright Girles, come altogether,
And bring all your offrings hither,
Ye most brave and Buxome Bevye,
All your goodly graces Levye,
Come in Majestie and state
Our Brydall here to celebrate.

MERTILLA. CLAIA.
For our Tita is this day,
Married to a noble Faye.

CLAIA.
Whose lot wilt be the way to strow,
On which to Church our Bride must goe?

MERTILLA.
That I thinke as fit'st of all,
To lively Lelipa will fall.

CLORIS.
Summon all the sweets that are,
To this nuptiall to repayre;
Till with their throngs themselves they smother,
Strongly styfling one another;
And at last they all consume,
And vanish in one rich perfume.

MERTILLA. CLAIA.
For our Tita is this day,
Married to a noble Faye.

MERTILLA.
By whom must Tita married be,
'Tis fit we all to that should see?

CLAIA.
The Priest he purposely doth come,
Th' Arch Flamyne of Elizium.

CLORIS.
With Tapers let the Temples shine,
Sing to Himen, Hymnes divine:
Load the Altars till there rise
Clouds from the burnt sacrifice;
With your Sensors sling aloofe
Their smels, till they ascend the Roofe.

MERTILLA. CLAIA.
For our Tita is this day,
Married to a noble Fay.

MERTILLA.
But comming backe when she is wed,
Who breakes the Cake above her head.

CLAIA.
That shall Mertilla, for shee's tallest,
And our Tita is the smallest.

CLORIS.
Violins, strike up aloud,
Ply the Gitterne, scowre the Crowd,
Let the nimble hand belabour
The whisteling Pipe, and drumbling Taber:
To the full the Bagpipe racke,
Till the swelling leather cracke.

MERTILLA. CLAIA.
For our Tita is this day,
Married to a noble Fay.

CLAIA.
But when to dyne she takes her seate
What shall be our Tita's meate?

MERTILLA.
The Gods this Feast, as to begin,
Have sent of their Ambrosia in.

CLORIS.
Then serve we up the strawes rich berry,
The Respas, and Elizian Cherry:
The virgin honey from the flowers
In Hibla, wrought in Flora's Bowers:
Full Bowles of Nectar, and no Girle
Carouse but in dissolved Pearle.

MERTILLA. CLAIA.
For our Tita is this day,
Married to a noble Fay.

CLAIA.
But when night comes, and she must goe
To Bed, deare Nimphes what must we doe?

MERTILLA.
In the Posset must be brought,
And Poynts be from the Bridegroome caught.

CLORIS.
In Maskes, in Dances, and delight,
And reare Banquets spend the night:
Then about the Roome we ramble,
Scatter Nuts, and for them scamble:
Over Stooles, and Tables tumble,
Never thinke of noyse nor rumble.

MERTILLA. CLAIA.
For our Tita is this day,
Married to a noble Fay.

[pp. 67-74]