Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

The Washes

The Washes

By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)

From “Poly-Olbion”

NOW in upon thy earth, rich Lincolnshire, I strain,

At Deeping, from whose street the plenteous ditches drain,

Hemp-bearing Holland’s fen, at Spalding that do fall

Together in their course, themselves as emptying all

Into one general sewer, which seemeth to divide

Low Holland from the high, which on their eastern side

The inbending ocean holds, from the Norfolcean lands,

To their more northern point, where Wainfleet drifted stands,

Do shoulder out those seas, and Lindsey bids her stay,

Because to that fair part a challenge she doth lay.

From fast and firmer earth, whereon the Muse of late

Trod with a steady foot, now with a slower gait,

Through quicksands, beach, and ouze, the Washes she must wade,

Where Neptune every day doth powerfully invade

The vast and queachy soil with hosts of wallowing waves,

From whose impetuous force that who himself not saves

By swift and sudden flight is swallowed by the deep,

When from the wrathful tides the foaming surges sweep

The sands which lay all naked to the wide heaven before,

And turneth all to sea which was but lately shore,

From this our southern part of Holland, called the Low,

Where Crowland’s ruins yet (though almost buried) show

Her mighty founder’s power, yet his more Christian zeal.