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Michael Drayton

(1563 - 1631 / Warwickshire / England)

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,
Whence Archelaus, whom times historify,
First unto Athens brought philosophy:
In this fair region on a goodly plain,
Stretching her bounds unto the bord'ring main,
The mountain Latmus overlooks the sea,
Smiling to see the ocean billows play:
Latmus, where young Endymion used to keep
His fairest flock of silver-fleeced sheep,
To whom Silvanus often would resort,
At barley-brake to see the Satyrs sport;
And when rude Pan his tabret list to sound,
To see the fair Nymphs foot it in a round,
Under the trees which on this mountain grew,
As yet the like Arabia never knew;
For all the pleasures Nature could devise
Within this plot she did imparadise;
And great Diana of her special grace
With vestal rites had hallowed all the place.
Upon this mount there stood a stately grove,
Whose reaching arms to clip the welkin strove,
Of tufted cedars, and the branching pine,
Whose bushy tops themselves do so entwine,
As seem'd, when Nature first this work begun,
She then conspir'd against the piercing sun;
Under whose covert (thus divinely made)
Ph{oe}bus' green laurel flourish'd in the shade,
Fair Venus' myrtle, Mars his warlike fir,
Minerva's olive, and the weeping myrrh,
The patient palm, which thrives in spite of hate,
The poplar, to Alcides consecrate;
Which Nature in such order had disposed,
And therewithal these goodly walks inclosed,
As serv'd for hangings and rich tapestry,
To beautify this stately gallery.
Embroidering these in curious trails along,
The cluster'd grapes, the golden citrons hung,
More glorious than the precious fruit were these,
Kept by the dragon in Hesperides,
Or gorgeous arras in rich colours wrought,
With silk from Afric, or from Indy brought.
Out of this soil sweet bubbling fountains crept,
As though for joy the senseless stones had wept,
With straying channels dancing sundry ways,
With often turns, like to a curious maze;
Which breaking forth the tender grass bedewed,
Whose silver sand with orient pearl was strewed,
Shadowed with roses and sweet eglantine,
Dipping their sprays into this crystalline;
From which the birds the purple berries pruned,
And to their loves their small recorders tuned,
The nightingale, wood's herald of the spring,
The whistling woosel, mavis carolling,
Tuning their trebles to the waters' fall,
Which made the music more angelical;
Whilst gentle Zephyr murmuring among
Kept time, and bare the burthen to the song:
About whose brims, refresh'd with dainty showers,
Grew amaranthus, and sweet gilliflowers,
The marigold, Ph{oe}bus' beloved friend,
The moly, which from sorcery doth defend,
Violet, carnation, balm, and cassia,
Idea's primrose, coronet of may.
Above this grove a gentle fair ascent,
Which by degrees of milk-white marble went:
Upon the top, a paradise was found,
With which Nature this miracle had crown'd,
Empal'd with rocks of rarest precious stone,
Which like the flames of Ætna brightly shone,
And served as lanthorns furnished with light,
To guide the wand'ring passengers by night:
For which fair Ph{oe}be, sliding from her sphere,
Used oft times to come and sport her there,
And from the azure starry-painted sky
Embalm'd the banks with precious lunary:
That now her Maenalus she quite forsook,
And unto Latmus wholly her betook,
And in this place her pleasure us'd to take,
And all was for her sweet Endymion's sake;
Endymion, the lovely shepherds' boy,
Endymion, great Ph{oe}be's only joy,
Endymion, in whose pure-shining eyes
The naked fairies danced the heydegies.
The shag-hair'd Satyrs' mountain-climbing race
Have been made tame by gazing in his face.
For this boy's love, the water-nymphs have wept,
Stealing oft times to kiss him whilst he slept,
And tasting once the nectar of his breath,
Surfeit with sweet, and languish unto death;
And Jove oft-times bent to lascivious sport,
And coming where Endymion did resort,
Hath courted him, inflamed with desire,
Thinking some nymph was cloth'd in boy's attire.
And often-times the simple rural swains,
Beholding him in crossing o'er the plains,
Imagined, Apollo from above
Put on this shape, to win some maiden's love.
...

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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