written by Michael Drayton


— Michael Drayton

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 belong'd 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 suffer'd 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 turned,
He, as it had been night,
In clouds hath mourned.
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 unmatched mind
Is heaven's treasure.
On thy bank...

Fair Dove and Darwen 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 pour 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.

About the poet

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...

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