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Best Famous Michael Drayton Poems

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by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XL: My Heart the Anvil

 My heart the anvil where my thoughts do beat; 
My words the hammers fashioning my desire; 
My breast the forge including all the heat; 
Love is the fuel which maintains the fire; 
My sighs the bellows which the flame increaseth, 
Filling mine ears with noise and nightly groaning; 
Toiling with pain, my labor never ceaseth, 
In grievous passions my woes still bemoaning; 
My eyes with tears against the fire striving, 
Whose scorching gleed my heart to cinders turneth,
But with these drops the flame again reviving, 
Still more and more it to my torment turneth.
With Sisyphus thus do I roll the stone, And turn the wheel with damned Ixion.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XXXVI: Thou Purblind Boy

 Cupid Conjured

Thou purblind boy, since thou hast been so slack 
To wound her heart, whose eyes have wounded me, 
And suffer'd her to glory in my wrack, 
Thus to my aid I lastly conjure thee: 
By hellish Styx, by which the Thund'rer swears, 
By thy fair mother's unavoided power, 
By Hecate's names, by Proserpine's sad tears 
When she was rapt to the infernal bower, 
By thine own loved Psyche, by the fires 
Spent on thine alters flaming up to heav'n, 
By all true lovers' sighs, vows, and desires, 
By all the wounds that ever thou hast giv'n: 
I conjure thee by all that I have nam'd 
To make her love, or, Cupid, be thou damn'd.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XLVI: Plain-Pathd Experience

 Plain-path'd Experience, th'unlearned's guide, 
Her simple followers evidently shows 
Sometimes what Schoolmen scarcely can decide, 
Nor yet wise Reason absolutely knows.
In making trial of a murther wrought, If the vile actors of the heinous deed Near the dead body happily be brought, Oft it hath been prov'd the breathless corse will bleed.
She's coming near, that my poor heart hath slain, Long since departed, to the world no more, The ancient wounds no longer can contain, But fall to bleeding as they did before.
But what of this? Should she to death be led, It furthers justice, but helps not the dead.

More great poems below...

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XLIII: Why Should Your Fair Eyes

 Why should your fair eyes with such sovereign grace 
Disperse their rays on every vulgar spirit, 
Whilst I in darkness, in the self-same place, 
Get not one glance to recompense my merit? 
So doth the plowman gaze the wand'ring star, 
And only rest contented with the light, 
That never learn'd what constellations are 
Beyond the bent of his unknowing sight.
O why should Beauty, custom to obey, To their gross sense apply herself so ill? Would God I were as ignorant as they, When I am made unhappy by my skill, Only compell'd on this poor good to boast: Heav'ns are not kind to them that know them most.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XVI: Mongst All the Creatures

 An Allusion to the Phoenix

'Mongst all the creatures in this spacious round 
Of the birds' kind, the Phoenix is alone, 
Which best by you of living things is known; 
None like to that, none like to you is found.
Your beauty is the hot and splend'rous sun, The precious spices be your chaste desire, Which being kindled by that heav'nly fire, Your life so like the Phoenix's begun; Yourself thus burned in that sacred flame, With so rare sweetness all the heav'ns perfuming, Again increasing as you are consuming, Only by dying born the very same; And, wing'd by fame, you to the stars ascend, So you of time shall live beyond the end.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet LXI: Since Theres No Help

 Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part, 
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me, 
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart, 
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, And when we meet at any time again Be it not seen in either of our brows That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies, When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, And Innocence is closing up his eyes, Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over, From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet IX: As Other Men

 As other men, so I myself do muse 
Why in this sort I wrest invention so, 
And why these giddy metaphors I use, 
Leaving the path the greater part do go.
I will resolve you: I am lunatic, And ever this in madmen you shall find, What they last thought of when the brain grew sick In most distraction they keep that in mind.
Thus talking idly in this bedlam fit, Reason and I, you must conceive, are twain; "Tis nine years now since first I lost my wit; Bear with me then, though troubled be my brain.
With diet and correction men distraught (Not too far past) may to their wits be brought.

by Michael Drayton | |

To the Reader of These Sonnets

 Into these Loves who but for Passion looks, 
At this first sight here let him lay them by 
And seek elsewhere, in turning other books, 
Which better may his labor satisfy.
No far-fetch'd sigh shall ever wound my breast, Love from mine eye a tear shall never wring, Nor in Ah me's my whining sonnets drest; A libertine, fantasticly I sing.
My verse is the true image of my mind, Ever in motion, still desiring change, And as thus to variety inclin'd, So in all humours sportively I range.
My Muse is rightly of the English strain, That cannot long one fashion entertain.

by Michael Drayton | |

The Parting

 SINCE there 's no help, come let us kiss and part-- 
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me; 
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart, 
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, And when we meet at any time again, Be it not seen in either of our brows That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies, When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, And Innocence is closing up his eyes, --Now if thou wouldst, when all have given him over, From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XXV: O Why Should Nature

 O why should Nature niggardly restrain 
That foreign nations relish not our tongue? 
Else should my lines glide on the waves of Rhene 
And crown the Pyrens with my living song.
But, bounded thus, to Scotland get you forth, Thence take you wing unto the Orcades; There let my verse get glory in the North, Making my sighs to thaw the frozen seas; And let the Bards within that Irish isle, To whom my Muse with fiery wing shall pass, Call back the stiff-neck'd rebels from exile, And mollify the slaught'ring Gallowglass; And when my flowing numbers they rehearse, Let wolves and bears be charmed with my verse.

by Michael Drayton | |


 All feathered things yet ever known to men, 
From the huge Rucke, unto the little Wren; 
From Forrest, Fields, from Rivers and from Pons, 
All that have webs, or cloven-footed ones; 
To the Grand Arke, together friendly came, 
Whose several species were too long to name

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet LXII: When First I Ended

 When first I ended, then I first began, 
The more I travell'd, further from my rest, 
Where most I lost, there most of all I wan,
Pined with hunger rising from a feast.
Methinks I fly, yet want I legs to go, Wise in conceit, in act a very sot, Ravish'd with joy amid a hell of woe; What most I seem, that surest am I not.
I build my hopes a world above the sky, Yet with the mole I creep into the earth; In plenty I am starv'd with penury, And yet I surfeit in the greatest dearth.
I have, I want, despair and yet desire, Burn'd in a sea of ice and drown'd amidst a fire.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XLVIII: Cupid I Hate Thee

 Cupid, I hate thee, which I'd have thee know; 
A naked starveling ever may'st thou be.
Poor rogue, go pawn thy fascia and thy bow For some few rags wherewith to cover thee.
Or, if thou'lt not, thy archery forbear, To some base rustic do thyself prefer, And when corn's sown or grown into the ear, Practise thy quiver and turn crow-keeper.
Or, being blind, as fittest for the trade, Go hire thyself some bungling harper's boy; They that are blind are often minstrels made; So may'st thou live, to thy fair mother's joy, That whilst with Mars she holdeth her old way, Thou, her blind son, may'st sit by them and play.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet II: My Heart Was Slain

 My heart was slain, and none but you and I; 
Who should I think the murther should commit, 
Since but yourself there was no creature by, 
But only I, guiltless of murth'ring it? 
It slew itself; the verdict on the view 
Doth quit the dead, and me not accessary.
Well, well, I fear it will be prov'd by you, The evidence so great a proof doth carry.
But O, see, see, we need inquire no further: Upon your lips the scarlet drops are found, And in your eye the boy that did the murther; Your cheeks yet pale, since first he gave the wound.
By this I see, however things be past, Yet Heaven will still have murther out at last.

by Michael Drayton | |

Idea LI: Calling to mind since first my love begun

 Calling to mind since first my love begun,
Th' incertain times oft varying in their course,
How things still unexpectedly have run,
As t' please the fates by their resistless force:
Lastly, mine eyes amazedly have seen
Essex' great fall, Tyrone his peace to gain,
The quiet end of that long-living Queen,
This King's fair entrance, and our peace with Spain,
We and the Dutch at length ourselves to sever:
Thus the world doth and evermore shall reel.
Yet to my goddess am I constant ever, Howe'er blind fortune turn her giddy wheel: Though heaven and earth prove both to me untrue, Yet am I still inviolate to you.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XXXVII: Dear Why Should You

 Dear, why should you command me to my rest 
When now the night doth summon all to sleep? 
Methinks this time becometh lovers best; 
Night was ordain'd, together friends to keep; 
How happy are all other living things 
Which through the day disjoin by sev'ral flight, 
The quiet ev'ning yet together brings, 
And each returns unto his love at night.
O thou, that art so courteous else to all, Why shouldst thou, Night, abuse me only thus, That ev'ry creature to his kind dost call, And yet 'tis thou dost only sever us? Well could I wish it would be ever day, If when night comes you bid me go away.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XXII: Love Banishd Heavn

 Love, banish'd Heav'n, on Earth was held in scorn, 
Wand'ring abroad in need and beggary, 
And wanting friends, though of a Goddess born, 
Yet crav'd the alms of such as passed by.
I, like a man devout and charitable, Clothed the naked, lodg'd this wand'ring guest, With sighs and tears still furnishing his table With what might make the miserable blest.
But this ungrateful, for my good desert, Entic'd my thoughts against me to conspire, Who gave consent to steal away my heart, And set my breast, his lodging, on a fire.
Well, well, my friends, when beggars grow thus bold, No marvel then though charity grow cold.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet L: As in Some Countries

 As in some countries far remote from hence 
The wretched creature destined to die, 
Having the judgement due to his offence, 
By surgeons begg'd, their art on him to try, 
Which, on the living, work without remorse, 
First make incision on each mastering vein, 
Then staunch the bleeding, then trasnpierce the corse, 
And with their balms recure the wounds again, 
Then poison and with physic him restore; 
Not that they fear the hopeless man to kill, 
But their experience to increase the more; 
Ev'n so my mistress works upon my ill, 
By curing me and killing me each hour, 
Only to show her beauty's sovereign power.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XXXII: Our Floods-Queen Thames

 Our flood's-queen Thames for ships and swans is crown'd, 
And stately Severn for her shore is prais'd, 
The crystal Trent for fords and fish renown'd, 
And Avon's fame to Albion's cliffs is rais'd; 
Carlegion Chester vaunts her holy Dee, 
York many wonders of her Ouse can tell, 
The Peak her Dove, whose banks so fertile be, 
And Kent will say her Medway doth excell; 
Cotswold commends her Isis to the Thame, 
Our Northern borders boast of Tweed's fair flood, 
Our Western parts extol their Wylye's fame, 
And the old Lea brags of the Danish blood.
Arden's sweet Anker, let thy glory be, That fair Idea only lives by thee.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XXXIII: Whilst Yet Mine Eyes

 To Imagination

Whilst yet mine Eyes do surfeit with delight, 
My woeful Heart, imprison'd in my breast, 
Wisheth to be transformed to my sight, 
That it, like these, by looking might be blest.
But whilst my Eyes thus greedily do gaze, Finding their objects over-soon depart, These now the other's happiness do praise, Wishing themselves that they had been my Heart, That Eyes were Heart, or that the Heart were Eyes, As covetous the other's use to have; But finding Nature their request denies, This to each other mutually they crave: That since the one cannot the other be, That Eyes could think, or that my Heart could see.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet LIV: Yet Read at Last

 Yet read at last the story of my woe, 
The dreary abstracts of my endless cares, 
With my life's sorrow interlined so, 
Smok'd with my sighs and blotted with my tears, 
The sad memorials of my miseries, 
Penn'd in the grief of mine afflicted ghost, 
My life's complaint in doleful elegies, 
With so pure love as Time could never boast.
Receive the incense which I offer here, By my strong faith ascending to thy fame, My zeal, my hope, my vows, my praise, my prayer, My soul's oblation to thy sacred name, Which name my Muse to highest heav'ns shall raise By chaste desire, true love, and virtuous praise.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet X: To Nothing Fitter

 To nothing fitter can I thee compare 
Than to the son of some rich penny-father, 
Who, having now brought on his end with care, 
Leaves to his son all he had heap'd together; 
This new rich novice, lavish of his chest, 
To one man gives, doth on another spend, 
Then here he riots, yet among the rest 
Haps to lend some to one true honest friend.
Thy gifts thou in obscurity dost waste, False friends thy kindness, born but to deceive thee, Thy love that is on the unworthy plac'd, Time hath thy beauty, which with age will leave thee; Only that little which to me was lent I give thee back, when all the rest is spent.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet LIII: Clear Anker

 Another to the River Anker

Clear Anker, on whose silver-sanded shore 
My soul-shrin'd saint, my fair Idea, lies, 
O blessed brook, whose milk-white swans adore 
The crystal stream refined by her eyes, 
Where sweet myrrh-breathing Zephyr in the Spring 
Gently distils his nectar-dropping showers, 
Where nightingales in Arden sit and sing 
Among the dainty dew-impearled flowers; 
Say thus, fair Brook, when thou shalt see thy Queen, 
"Lo, here thy shepherd spent his wand'ring years, 
And in these shades, dear nymph, he oft hath been, 
And here to thee he sacrific'd his tears.
" Fair Arden, thou my Tempe art alone, And thou, sweet Anker, art my Helicon.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet LVIII: In Former Times

 In former times such as had store of coin, 
In wars at home, or when for conquests bound, 
For fear that some their treasure should purloin, 
Gave it to keep to spirits within the ground, 
And to attend it them as strongly tied 
Till they return'd; home when they never came, 
Such as by art to get the same have tried 
From the strong Spirit by no means force the same; 
Nearer men come, that further flies away, 
Striving to hold it strongly in the deep.
E'en as this Spirit, so you alone do play With those rich beauties Heav'n gives you to keep; Pity, so left to the coldness of your blood, Not to avail you, nor do the others good.

by Michael Drayton | |

Sonnet XIV: If He From Heavn

 If he from Heav'n that filch'd that living fire 
Condemn'd by Jove to endless torment be, 
I greatly marvel how you still go free 
That far beyond Prometheus did aspire.
The fire he stole, although of heav'nly kind, Which from above he craftily did take, Of lifeless clods us living men to make, He did bestow in temper of the mind; But you broke into Heav'n's immortal store, Where Virtue, Honor, Wit, and Beauty lay, Which taking thence you have escap'd away, Yet stand as free as e'er you did before; Yet old Prometheus punish'd for his rape.
Thus poor thieves suffer when the greater 'scape.