Michael Drayton.

The complete works of Michael Drayton, now first collected (Volume 2) online

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Of all the Forests here within this mighty Isle,

If those old Britans then me Sovereign did instyle, 30

I needs must be the great'st ; for greatness 'tis alone

That gives our kind the place : else were there many a one

For pleasantness of shade that far doth me excell.

But, of our Forests' kind the quality to tell,

We equally partake with wood-land as with plain, 35

Alike with hill and dale ; and every day maintain

* The ancient Coat of that Earldom.

' Divers Towns expressing hername : as Iknbj in Arden, Hampton
in Anieu, &c.


The sundry kinds of beasts upon our copious wastes,
That men for profit breed, as well as those of chase.
Here Arden of herself ceas'd any more to show ;
And with her sylvan joys the Muse along doth go. 40

When Phcebm lifts bis liead out o-f the Winter's wave,
No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave,
At such time as the year brings on the pleasant Spring,
But Hunts-up to the Morn the feath'red Sylvans sing :
And in the lower grove, as on the rising knole, 45

Upon the highest spray of every mounting pole,
Those Quiristers are perch'd with many a speckled breast.
Then from her burnish'd gate the goodly glitt'ring East
Gilds every lofty top, which late the humorous Night
Bespangled had with pearl, to please the Morning's sight : so
On which the mirthful Quires, with their clear open throats.
Unto the joyful j\Iorn so strain their warbling notes.
That hills and valleys ring, and even the echoing air
Seems all compos'd of sounds, about them everywhere.
The Throstell, with shrill shar[>s ; as purposely he song 55
T' awake the lustless Sari ; or chiding, that so long
He was in coming forth, that should the thickets thrill :
The IFuosell near at hand, that hath a golden bill ;
As Nature him had mark'd of purpose, t' let us see
That from all other birds his tunes should different be : oo
For, with their vocal sounds, they sing to pleasant May ;
Upon his dulcet pipe the Merle doth only play.^
When in the lower brake, the Nir/htliigale hard-by.
In such lamenting strains the joyful hours doth ply,
As though the other birds she to her tunes would draw. 65
And, but that Nature (by her all-constraining law)
Each bird to her own kind this season doth invite.
They else, alone to hear that Charmer of the Niglit
(The more tO' use their ears) their voices sure would spare^
^ Of all Birds, only the Biackbinl whistleth.

VOL. 11. 10


That moduleth her tunes so admirably rare, 70

As man to set in parts, at first had learn'd of her.

To Philomell the next, the Linnet we prefer ;
And by that warbling bird, the JFood-Larh place we then,
The Reed-sparrow, the Kope, the Bed-hreast, and the TFren,
The YeUoic-pate : which though she hurt the blooming tree, 75
Yet scarce hath any bird a finer pipe than she.
And of these chanting fowls, the Goldfinch not behind.
That hath so many sorts descending from her kind.
The Tijdie for her notes as delicate as they.
The laughing Hecco, then the counterfeiting Jay, so

The softer, with the shrill (some hid among the leaves,
Some in the taller trees, some in the lower greaves)
Thus sing away the Morn, until the mounting sun,
Through thick exhaled fogs, his golden head hath run,
And through the twisted tops of our close covert creeps 85
To kiss the gentle shade, this while that sweetly sleeps.

And near to these our thicks, the wild and frightful herds.
Not hearing other noise but this of chatt'ring birds,
Feed fairly on the launds ; both sorts of seasont^d Beer :
Here walk, the stately lied, the freckled Fallow there : oo
The Buds and lusty Stags amongst the Bascalls strew'd,
As sometime gallant spirits amongst the multitude.

Of all the beasts which we for our venerial name,*
The Hart amongst the rest, the hunter's noblest game :
Of which most princely chase sith none did e'er report, 95
Or by description touch, t' express that wond'rous sport
(Yet might have well beseem'd tli' ancients' nobler songs)
To our old Arden here, most fitly it belongs :
Yet shall she not invoke the Muses to her aid ;
But thee Diana bright, a Goddess and a maid : loo

In many a huge-grown wood, and many a shady grove,
"Which oft hast borne thy bow (great Huntress) us'd to rove
* Of hunting, or Chase.


At many a cruel beast, and with thy darts to pierce
The Lion, Panther, Ounce, the Bear, and Tiger fierce ;
And following thy fleet game, chaste mighty forest's Queen,
With thy dishevell'd Nymphs attir'd in youthful green, iog
About the launds hast scour'd, and wastes both far and near,
Brave Huntress : but no beast shall prove thy quarries here ;
Save those the best of chase, the tall and lusty Ecd,
The Stag for goodly shap^ , and stateliness of head, no

Is fitt'st to hunt at force.* For whom, when with his hounds
The labouring hunter tufts the thick unbarbdd grounds
"Where harbour'd is the Hart ; there often from his feed
The dogs of him do find ; or thorough skilful heed,
The huntsman by his slot,t or breaking earth, perceives, 115
Or ent'ring of the thick by pressing of the greaves
"Where he hath gone to lodge. Now when the Hart doth

The often-bellowing hounds to vent his secret lair.
He rousing rusheth out, and through the brakes doth drive,
As though up by the roots the bushes he would rive. 120
And through the cumb'rous thicks, as fearfully he makes.
He with his branched head the tender saplings shakes.
That sprinkling their moist pearl do seem for him to weep ;
"When after goes the cry, with yellings loud and deep.
That all the forest rings, and every neighbouring place : 125
And there is not a hound but falleth to the chase.
Eechating^ with his horn, which then the hunter chears,
Whilst still the lusty Stag his high-palm'd head up-bears,
His body showing state, with unbent knees upright,
Expressing (froni all beasts) his courage in his flight. 110
But when th' approaching foes still following he perceives,
That he his speed must trust, his usual walk he leaves ;
And o'er the champaiu flies : which when th' assembly find,

A description of hunting the Hart. \ The tract of the foot.


^ One of the Measures in winding the horn,

148 poly-olbion;

Each follows, as his horse were footed with the wind.
But being then imbost, the noble stately deer iss

When he hath gotten ground (the kennel cast arere)
Doth beat the brooks and ponds for sweet refreshing soil :
That serving not, then proves if he his scent can foil,
And makes amongst the herds-, and flocks of shag-wooll'd

Them frighting from the guard of those who had their keep.
But when as all his shifts his safety still denies, i4i

Put quite out of his walk, the ways and fiillows tries.
Whom when the plow-man meets, his team he letteth stand
T' assail him with his goad : so with his hook in hand,
The shepherd him pursues, and to his dog doth hallow : i4&
When, with tempestuous speed, the hounds and huntsmen

follow ;
TTntil the noble deer through toil bereav'd of strength.
His long and sinewy legs tlien failing him at length,
The villages attempts, enrag'd, not giving way
To anything he meets now at his sad decay. 150

The cruel rav'nous hounds and bloody hunters near.
This noblest beast of chase, that vainly doth but fear,
>^ome bank or quick-set finds : to whicli his haunch oppos'd,
lie turns upon his foes, that soon have him inclos'd.
. llie churlish-throated hounds then lioldiiig him at bay, 155
And as their cruel fangs on his harsh skin they lay,
Witli his sharp-pointed head he dealeth deadly wounds.

The hunter, coming in to help his wearied hounds.
He desp'rately assails ; until oppress'd by force,
He who the mourner is to his own dying corse, I60

T 'pon tlie ruthless earth his precious tears lets fall.^
To Forests that belongs ; but yet this is not all :
With solitude what sorts, that here's not wondrous rife?

^ Tlio llarl wccpeth at liis ifying: his tears arc held to be precious
iu niediciuo.


Whereas tlie Hermit leads a sweet retired life,
From villages replete with ragg'd and sweating clowns, i65
And from the loathsome airs of smoky citied towns.
Suppose twixt noon and night, the sun his halfway wrought^
(The shadows to be large, by his descending brought)
Who with a fervent eye looks through the twyring glades,
And his dispersed rays commixeth with the shades, iro

Exhaling the milch dew, which there had tarried long,
And on the ranker grass till past the noon-sted hong ;
When as the Hermit comes out of his homely Cell,
Where from all rude resort he happily doth dv/ell •?■
Who in the strength of youtli, a man-at-arms hath been ; its
Or one who of this world the vileness having seen,
Retires him from it quite : and with a constant mind
Man's beastliness so loths, that flying human kind,
The black and darksome nights, the bright and gladsome days
Indiff' rent are to him, his hope on God that stays. iso

Each little village yields his short and homely fare :
To gather wind-faU'n sticks, his great'st and only care ;
Which every aged tree still yieldeth to his hre.
This man, that is alone a Kmg m his desire.
By no proud ignorant lord is basely over-aw'd, iss

Nor his false praise affects, who grossly being claw'd.
Stands like an itchy moyle ; nor of a pin he weighs
What fools, abused Kings, and humorous ladies raise.
His free and noble thought, ne'er envies at the grace
That often-times is given unto a bawd most base, 190

Nor stirs it him to think on the impostor vile,
Who seeming what he's not, doth sensually beguile
The sottish purblind world ; but absolutely free,
His happy time he spends the works of God to see,

^ A description of the afternoon.

^ Hermits liave oft had thuii- abodes byways that lie through


In those so sundry herbs which there in plenty grow : 195

Whose sundry strange effects he only seeks to know.

And in a little maund, being made of osiers small,

AVhich serveth him to do full many a thing withall,

He very choicely sorts his simples got abroad.

Here finds he on an oak rheum-purging Pdipode ; 200

And in some open place that to the sun doth lie,

He Fumitorie gets, and Ei/e -bright for the eye :

The Yarroio, wherewithal he stops the wound-made gore :

The healing Tutsan then, and Plantan for a sore.

And hard by them again he holy Vervaiiie finds, 205

Which he about his head that hath the megrim binds.

The wonder-working Dill he gets not far from these,

Which curious women use in many a nice disease.

For them that are with newts, or snakes, or adders stong.

He seeketh out an herb that's called Adders-tong ; 210

As Nature it ordain'd, its own like hurt to cure,

And sportive did herself to niceties inure.

Valerian then he crops, and purposely doth stamp,

T' apply unto the place that's ailed with the cramp.

As Centurij, to close the wideness of a wound : 215

The belly hurt by birth, by Mugwort to make sound.

His Chkhvced cures the heat that in the face doth rise.

For physick, some again he inwardly ai)plies.
For comforting the spleen and liver, gets for juice.
Pale Ilnre-houud, which he holds of most esjjecial use. 220
So Saxifrage is good, and Hart's-tmgm for the stone,
With ylgrlmoinj, and that herb we call S. John.
To him that hath a flux, of Shepherd' s-parse he gives ;
And Mouse-ear unto him whom some sharp rupture grieves.
And for the labouring wretch that's troubled with a cough,
Or stopping of the breath, by fleagm that's hard and tough,
Campaiia here lie crops, approved wondrous good : 227

As Comfreij unto him that's bruised, spitting blood ;


And from the falling-ill, by Five-leaf doth restore ;

And melancholy cures by sovereign Hellebore. 230

Of these most helpful herbs yet tell we but a few,
To those unnumb'red sorts of simples here that grew.
Which justly to set down, even Bodon^ short doth fall ;
Nor skilful Gerard,^ yet, shall ever find them all.

But from our Hermit here the Muse we must inforce, 235
And zealously proceed in our intended course :
How Arden of her Rills and Riverets doth dispose ;
By Alcesier how Aim to Ari'o eas'ly flows ;
And mildly being mix'd, to Avon hold their way :
And likewise tow'rd the Xorth, how lively-tripping Bhsa, 240
T' attend the lustier Tame, is from her fountain sent :
So little Cole and Bhjtli go on with him to Trent.
His Tamivorth at the last, he in his way doth win :
There playing him awhile, till Ancor should come in,
Which trifleth 'twixt her banks, observing state, so slow, 245
As thou2;h into his arms she scorn'd herself to throw :
Yet Arden will'd her Tame to serve her* on his knee ;.
For by that Nymph alone, they both should honour'd be.
The Forest so much fall'n from what she was before,
That to her former height Fate could her not restore j 250
Though oft in her behalf, the Genius of the Land
Importunt^d the Heavens with an auspicious hand.
Yet granted at the last (the aged Nymph to grace)
They by a Lady's birth would more renown that place
Than if her Woods their heads above the Hills should seat ;
And for that purpose, first made Coventry so great 256

(A poor thatch'd village then, or scarcely none at all.
That could not once have dream'd of her now stately wall),
§ And thither wisely brought that goodly Virgin-band,
Th' Eleven thousand maids, chaste Ursuhis Command, 26O
Whom then the Britan Kings gave her full power to press,

^ The Authors of two famous Herbals. * Ancor,


For matches to their friends in Brittany the less.

At whose departure thence, each by her just bequest

Some special virtue gave, ordaining it to rest

AVith one of their own sex, that there her birth should have,

Till fulness of the time which Fate did choicely save ; 2G6

Until the Saxons' reign, when Coventry at length,

From her small mean regard, recovered state and strength,

§ By Lcofric her Lord yet in base bondage held,

The people from her marts by tollage who expell'd : 270

Whose Duchess, which desir'd this tribute to release.

Their freedom often begg'd. The Duke, to make her cease,

Told her that if she would his loss so far inforce,

His will was, she should ride stark nak'd upon a horse

By daylight through the street : which certainly he thought.

In her heroic breast so deeply would have wrought, 270

That in her former suit she would have left to deal.

But that most princely Dame, as one devour'd with zeal,

AVent on, and by that mean the City clearly freed.

The first jmrt of whose name, Godiva, doth foreread 280

Th' first syllable of hers, and Goodere half doth soimd;
For by agreeing tvm-ds, great matters have been found.
But further than this place the mystery extends.
JVhat Arden hud begun, in Ancor lastly ends :
For in the British tongue, the Britans could not find, zss

Wherefore to her that name of Ancor was assigned :
Nor yet the Saxons since, nor times to come had known.
But that her being here, was by this name foresliown,
As prophesying her. For, as the first did tell
Her Sirname, so again doth Ancor lively spell »o

Her Christened title Anne. And as tJwse Virgins there
Did sanctify that place : so holy Edith here
A Recluse long time liv'd, in that fair ^Ihbcy plac'd
Which Alured enriched, and Powlesworth highly grac'd.
A Princess being born, and Abbess, with those Maids, 294


All noble like herself, in bidding of their beads

Their holiness bequeath'd, upon her to descend

Which there should after live : in tohose dear self shoidd end

Th' intent of Ancor's name, her coining that decreed,

As hers {her place of birth) fair Coventry tluit freed. soo

But whilst about this tale smooth Ancor trifling stays,
Unto the lustier Tame as loth to come her ways,
The Flood intreats her thus : Dear Brook, why dost thou

Our mutual love so much, and tediously prolong
Our mirthful marriage-hour, for which I still prepare ? 305
Haste to my broader banks, my joy and only care.
For as of all my Floods thou art the first in fame ;
When frankly thou shalt yield thine honour to my name,
I will protect thy state : then do not wrong thy kind. 309
What pleasure hath the world that here thou may'st not find?

Hence, Muse, divert thy course to Dunsmore, by that Cross^
Where those two mighty ways,^ the JVatling and the Fosse,
Our Centre seem to cut. (The first doth hold her way.
From Dover, to the farth'st of fruitful Anglesey:
The second South and North, from Michael's utmost Mount,
To Cathnesse, which the furth'st of Scotland we account.) 316
And then proceed to show, how Avon from her spring,
By Newnham's* Fount is blest ; and how she, blandishing.
By Dunsmore drives along. Whom Sow doth first assist,
Which taketh Shirhurn in, with Cune, a great while miss'd;
Though Corentn/ from thence her name at first did raise, 32
Now flourishing with fanes, and proud pyramides ;
Her walls in good repair, her ports so bravely built.
Her halls in good estate, her cross so richly gilt.
As scorniner all the Towns that stand within her xiew : 325
Yet must she not be griev'd, that Cune should claim her due.

1 The Hi<ih-cross, supposed to bo the midst of England.

2 See to the Sixteenth Soug. * Neivnham Wells,
' Otherwise, Cune-tre: that is, the Tovvu upou Cune.



Tow'rds JVanckk with this train as Avon trips along,
To Giui-cJiffe being come, her Nymphs thus bravely song ;
To thee renowned Knight, continual i)raise we owe,
And at thy hallowed Tomb thy yearly Obiits show ; 330

Who, thy dear PkilUs name and Country to advance,
Left'st IFarwick's wealthy seat : and sailing into France,
At tilt, from his proud steed, Duke Otton threw'st to ground :
And with th' invalu'd prize of Blanch the beauteous crown'd
(The Almalne Emperor's heir) high acts didst there achieve:
As Lovaine thou again didst valiantly relieve. 336

Thou in the Soldan's blood thy worthy sword imbni'dst ;
And then in single fight, great Auierant subdu'dst.
'Twas thy HercnUan hand, which happily destroy'd
That Dragon, which so long NortJunnhcrhnul annoy'd ; 340
And slew that cruel Boar, which waste our wood-lands laid,
Whose tusks turn'd up our tilths, and dens in meadows made :
Whose shoulder-blade remains at Coventry till now ;
And, at our humble suit, did quell that monstrous Cow
The passengers that us'd from Dunsmorc to affright. 346

Of all our Eiu/lisk (yet) most renowned Knight,
That Colehrond overcam'st : at whose amazing full
The Danes remov'd their camp from JFincl tester's sieg'd wall.
Thy statue Guy-cliffe keeps, the gazer's eye to please ;
Warwick, thy mighty arms (thou English Hercules) 350

Tliy strong and massy sword, that never was controll'd :
Which, as her ancient right, her ( ^astle still shall hold.

Scarce ended they their Song, but Avon's winding stream,
By JTanvick, entertains the high-complection'd Leanie :
And as she thence along to Stratford on doth strain, 355
Receiveth little Ileile the next into her train :
Then taketh in tlie Stour, the Brook, of all the rest
Which that most goodly Vale of Iled-Jiorse loveth best ;
A Valley that enjoys a very great estate,
Yet not so famous held as smaller, by her fate : soo


Now, for report had been too partial in her praise,
Her just conceived grief, fair Ecd-hmse thus bewrays :

Shall every Vale be heard to boast her wealth 1 and I,
The needy countries near that with my corn supply
As bravely as the best, shall only I endure 365

The dull and beastly world my glories to obscure ;
Near way-less Arden's side, sith my retir'd abode
Stood quite out of the way from every common road 1
Great En sham's fertile glebe, what tongue hath not ex-

As though to her alone belong'd the garb^ of gold. sro

Of Eever's batfuU earth, men seem as though to feign.
Reporting in what store she multiplies her grain :
And folk such wondrous things of Ahbtirie will tell,
As thoudi abound ance strove her burthen'd womb to swell.
Her room amongst the rest, so jriiile-horse is decreed : • 375
She wants no setting forth : her brave Pegasian Steed
(The wonder of the West) exalted to the skies :
My Bed-horse of you all contemned only lies.
The fault is not in me, but in the wretched time :
On whom, upon good cause, I well may lay the crime : 380
Which as all noble things, so me it doth neglect.
But when th' industrious Muse shall purchase me respect
Of countries near my site, and win me foreign fame
(The Eden of you all deservedly that am)
I shall as much be prais'd for delicacy then, 3S5

As now in small account with vile and barbarous men.
For, from the lofty Edge- that on my side doth lie,
Upon my spacious earth who casts a curious eye,
As many goodly seats shall in my compass see,
As many sweet delights and rarities in me soo

As in the greatest Vale : from where my head I couch

1 The Sheaf.
« The L\l.jL-Jull.


At Cotsirold's country's foot, till with my heels I touch
The North-hamptonian fields,^ and fatt'ning pastures ; where
I ravish every eye with my inticing cheer.
As still the year grows on, that Ceres once doth load 3<i5
The full earth with her store ; my plenteous bosom strow'd
With all aboundant sweets : my frim and lusty flank
Her bravery then displays, with meadows hugely rank.
The thick and well-grown fog doth mat my smoother

And on the lower leas, as on the higher hades 40o

The dainty clover grows (of grass the only silk)
That makes each udder strout abundantly with milk.

As an unlett'red man,- at the desirt^d sight
Of some rare beauty mov'd with infinite delight,
Not out of his own spirit, but by that power divine, 405
Which through a sparkling eye perspicuously doth shine,
Feels his hard temper yfeld, that he in passion breaks,
And things beyond his height, transported strangely speaks :
So those that dwell in me, and live by frugal toil,
When they in my defence are reasoning of my soil, 4io

As rapted with my wealth and beauties, learnt^d grow.
And in well-fitting terms, and noble language, show
The lordships in my lands, from liolright (which remains
§ A witness of that day we won ui)on the Danes)
To Tawcester well-near : twixt which, they use to tell 4i.s
Of places which they say do llumnei/s self excell.
Of Basset^ they dare boast, and give Wormlighton^ prize,
As of that fertile Flat by Bisliopton-^ that lies.

For showing of my bounds, if men may rightly guess,
By my continued form which best doth me express, 420

On either of my sides and by the rising grounds,

' The bounds of the Vale of Red-horse.

* A Simile of tlu; place and puoitle.

' Wondrous fruitful jjlaces in the V^ale.



Which in one fashion hold, as my most certain mounds,
In length near thirty miles I am discern'd to be.

Thns Eed-hmse ends her tale ; and I therewith agree
To finish here my Song : the Muse some ease doth ask^ 425
As wearied with the toil in this her serious task.


..^■mXXO tlie heart of England and JFaks, the Muse
here is entered, that is, IFarwickshire her Native
Country ; whose territory you might call Middle-
Emjle (for here was that part of Mercland, spoken

of in Story) for equality of distance from the inarming


6. By her illustrious Earls renmoned everyivhere.

Permit to yourself credit of those, loaden with antique
fables, as Ginj (of whom the Author in the Twelfth Sons,
and here presently) Morliid and such like, and no more tes-
timony might be given, to exceed. But, more sure justifi-
cation hereof is, in those great princes Henry Beauchamp
Earl of JFai-wick, and Prcecomes Anglke* (as the Record calls
him) under Hen. VI.i and Richard Nevill making it (as it
were) his gain to crown and depose Kings in that bloody
dissension twixt the White and lied lioses.

15. That mighty Arden held

What is now the Woodland in IFanoichihire, was hereto-
fore part of a larger AVeald or Forest, called Arde^i. The
relics of whose name in Dene of Monnmithshire, and that

Chief Earl of EiKjland.

1 I'arl. Rot. 23. Hen. 6. ap. Cam.


Ardvenna or La Forest d'Ardenne, by Henault and Lioxm-
bourg, shows likelihood of interpretation of the yet used
English name of iVoodland. And, whereas, in old inscrip-
tions,^ Diana Nemorensis* with other additions, hatli been
found among the Latins, the like seems to be expressed in
an old Marble, now in Itahj,'^ graven under Domitian, in
part thus :




That comprehensive largeness which this Arden once ex-
tended (before ruin of her woods) makes the Author thus

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