Biography of Michael Drayton
Drayton was born at Hartshill in Warwickshire and as a youth he became page to Sir Henry Goodere of Polesworth. He fell in love with Sir Henry's daughter, Anne, and worshipped her as 'Idea' in his poetry. Even after her marriage to Sir Henry Rainford he continued to celebrate her charms in verse, and he never married.
He had wanted to be a poet from the age of ten, and achieved his ambition through hard work and a succession of noble patrons, in spite of some ill-fortune. His first work was a verse paraphrase of parts of the Old Testament and Apocrypha, The Harmony of the Church. Ironically, the Harmony caused offence among the authorities and was banned. When James I became king in 1603 Drayton angled for royal favour with To the Majesty of King James: a Gratulatory Poem. Unfortunately he omitted to include the customary tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth, and this gaffe probably cost him an appointment at court.
In spite of this setback, Drayton had a fairly successful career as a poet, and he counted Ben Jonson and William Drummond of Hawthornden among his friends.
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Michael Drayton Poems
Sonnet Lxi: Since There's 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.
Sonnet Xxvi: I Ever Love
To Despair I ever love where never hope appears, Yet hope draws on my never-hoping care,
The Battle Of Agincourt
Fair stood the wind for France When we our sails advance, Nor now to prove our chance Longer will tarry;
Sonnet Xix: You Cannot Love
To Humor You cannot love, my pretty heart, and why? There was a time you told me that you would;
Sonnet Xx: An Evil Spirit
An evil spirit, your beauty haunts me still, Wherewith, alas, I have been long possest, Which ceaseth not to tempt me to each ill, Nor gives me once but one poor minute's rest;
Sonnet Vi: How Many Paltry Things
How many paltry, foolish, painted things, That now is coaches trouble every street, Shall be forgotten, whom no Poet sings, Ere they be well wrapt in their winding-sheet.
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?
Sonnet Iv: Bright Star Of Beauty
Bright star of beauty, on whose eyelids sit A thousand nymph-like and enamour'd Graces, The Goddesses of Memory and Wit, Which there in order take their several places;
Sonnet Xxxi: Methinks I See
To the Critic Methinks I see some crooked mimic jeer, And tax my Muse with this fantastic grace,
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.
Endimion And Phoebe (Excerpts)
In Ionia whence sprang old poets' fame, From whom that sea did first derive her name, The blessed bed whereon the Muses lay, Beauty of Greece, the pride of Asia,
FAIR stood the wind for France When we our sails advance, Nor now to prove our chance Longer will tarry;
How Many Paltry Foolish Painted Things
How many paltry foolish painted things, That now in coaches trouble every street, Shall be forgotten, whom no poet sings, Ere they be well wrapped in their winding-sheet!
Sonnet Li: Calling To Mind
Calling to mind, since first my love begun, Th'uncertain times oft varying in their course, How things still unexpectedly have run, As it please the Fates, by their resistless force.
Sonnet Xi: You Not Alone
You not alone, when you are still alone,
O God, from you that I could private be.
Since you one were, I never since was one;
Since you in me, my self since out of me,
Transported from my self into your being;
Though either distant, present yet to either,
Senseless with too much joy, each other seeing,
And only absent when we are together.
Give me my self and take your self again,