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Michael Drayton (1563-1631)

Idea: To the Reader of these Sonnets


              1Into these loves, who but for passion looks,
              2At this first sight here let him lay them by
              3And seek elsewhere in turning other books,
              4Which better may his labour satisfy.
              5No far-fetch'd sigh shall ever wound my breast;
              6Love from mine eye a tear shall never wring;
              7Nor in "Ah me's!" my whining sonnets drest:
              8A libertine, fantasticly I sing.
              9My verse is the true image of my mind,
            10Ever in motion, still desiring change;
            11And as thus to variety inclin'd,
            12So in all humours sportively I range:
            13My Muse is rightly of the English strain,
            14That cannot long one fashion entertain.

Notes

1] A sonnet-sequence, first printed in 1594 as Ideas Mirrour, enlarged and revised in 1599, again in 1602 and 1605 and brought up to sixty-four sonnets in the final authorized edition of 1619. The text in Representative Poetry is based on the edition of 1619, the dates supplied at the bottom of the poems indicating their first appearance in print. Anne, the younger daughter of Drayton's early patron, Sir Henry Goodere of Polesworth Hall, Warwickshire, is probably the "Idea" of the sonnets--see Sonnet LIII. The title, borrowed from a French sonnet-sequence, symbolizes Plato's divine idea of beauty. See Spenser's Hymne in Honour of Beauty, 29-49. This introduction hardly fits the tone of the sequence.

6] Probably suggested by Marston's satire, Scourge of Vilainie, 8, which attacks erotic poetry and "Ah me's."


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Michael Drayton, Poems (W. Stansby for J. Swethwicke, 1619). STC 7222. Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2255 A1 1619A.
First publication date: 1599
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger
RP edition: 3RP 1.129.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/26

Form: sonnet
Rhyme: ababcdcdefefgg


Other poems by Michael Drayton