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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.


Michael Drayton (1563–1631)

NEAR to the silver Trent

Sirena dwelleth;

She to whom Nature lent

All that excelleth;

By which the Muses late

And the neat Graces

Have for their greater state

Taken their places;

Twisting an anadem

Wherewith to crown her,

As it belonged to them

Most to renown her.

On thy bank,

In a rank,

Let thy swans sing her,

And with their music

Along let them bring her.

Tagus and Pactolus

Are to thee debtor,

Nor for their gold to us

Are they the better:

Henceforth of all the rest

Be thou the River

Which, as the daintiest,

Puts them down ever.

For as my precious one

O’er thee doth travel,

She to pearl paragon

Turneth thy gravel.
On thy bank

Our mournful Philomel,

That rarest tuner,

Henceforth in Aperil

Shall wake the sooner,

And to her shall complain

From the thick cover,

Redoubling every strain

Over and over:

For when my Love too long

Her chamber keepeth,

As though it suffered wrong,

The Morning weepeth.
On thy bank

Oft have I seen the Sun,

To do her honour,

Fix himself at his noon

To look upon her;

And hath gilt every grove,

Every hill near her,

With his flames from above

Striving to cheer her:

And when she from his sight

Hath herself turnèd,

He, as it had been night,

In clouds hath mournèd.
On thy bank

The verdant meads are seen,

When she doth view them,

In fresh and gallant green

Straight to renew them;

And every little grass

Broad itself spreadeth,

Proud that this bonny lass

Upon it treadeth:

Nor flower, is so sweet

In this large cincture,

But it upon her feet

Leaveth some tincture.
On thy bank

The fishes in the flood,

When she doth angle,

For the hook strive a-good

Them to entangle;

And leaping on the land,

From the clear water,

Their scales upon the sand

Lavishly scatter;

—Therewith to pave the mould

Whereon she passes,

So herself to behold

As in her glasses.
On thy bank

When she looks out by night,

The stars stand gazing,

Like comets to our sight

Fearfully blazing;

As wond’ring at her eyes

With their much brightness,

Which so amaze the skies,

Dimming their lightness.

The raging tempests are calm

When she speaketh,

Such most delightsome balm

From her lips breaketh.
On thy bank

In all our Brittany

There’s not a fairer,

Nor can you fit any

Should you compare her.

Angels her eyelids keep,

All hearts surprising;

Which look whilst she doth sleep

Like the sun’s rising:

She alone of her kind

Knoweth true measure,

And her unmatchèd mind

Is heaven’s treasure.
On thy bank

Fair Dove and Derwent clear,

Boast ye your beauties,

To Trent your mistress here

Yet pay your duties:

My Love was higher born

Tow’rds the full fountains,

Yet she doth moorland scorn

And the Peak mountains;

Nor would she none should dream

Where she abideth,

Humble as is the stream

Which by her slideth.
On thy bank

Yet my poor rustic Muse

Nothing can move her,

Nor the means I can use

Though her true lover:

Many a long winter’s night

Have I waked for her,

Yet this my piteous plight

Nothing can stir her.

All thy sands, silver Trent,

Down to the Humber,

The sighs that I have spent

Never can number.

On thy bank,

In a rank,

Let thy swans sing her,

And with their music

Along let them bring her.