Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  120. To the Virginian Voyage

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Michael Drayton. 1563–1631

120. To the Virginian Voyage

YOU brave heroic minds 
  Worthy your country’s name, 
    That honour still pursue; 
    Go and subdue! 
Whilst loitering hinds         5
  Lurk here at home with shame. 
Britons, you stay too long: 
  Quickly aboard bestow you, 
    And with a merry gale 
    Swell your stretch’d sail  10
With vows as strong 
  As the winds that blow you. 
Your course securely steer, 
  West and by south forth keep! 
    Rocks, lee-shores, nor shoals  15
    When Eolus scowls 
You need not fear; 
  So absolute the deep. 
And cheerfully at sea 
  Success you still entice  20
    To get the pearl and gold, 
    And ours to hold 
  Earth’s only paradise. 
Where nature hath in store  25
  Fowl, venison, and fish, 
    And the fruitfull’st soil 
    Without your toil 
Three harvests more, 
  All greater than your wish.  30
And the ambitious vine 
  Crowns with his purple mass 
    The cedar reaching high 
    To kiss the sky, 
The cypress, pine,  35
  And useful sassafras. 
To whom the Golden Age 
  Still nature’s laws doth give, 
    No other cares attend, 
    But them to defend  40
From winter’s rage, 
  That long there doth not live. 
When as the luscious smell 
  Of that delicious land 
    Above the seas that flows  45
    The clear wind throws, 
Your hearts to swell 
  Approaching the dear strand; 
In kenning of the shore 
  (Thanks to God first given)  50
    O you the happiest men, 
    Be frolic then! 
Let cannons roar, 
  Frighting the wide heaven. 
And in regions far,  55
  Such heroes bring ye forth 
    As those from whom we came; 
    And plant our name 
Under that star 
  Not known unto our North.  60
And as there plenty grows 
  Of laurel everywhere— 
    Apollo’s sacred tree— 
    You it may see 
A poet’s brows  65
  To crown, that may sing there. 
Thy Voyages attend, 
  Industrious Hakluyt, 
    Whose reading shall inflame 
    Men to seek fame,  70
And much commend 
  To after times thy wit.