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Michael Drayton (1563-1631)

Nymphidia, The Court Of Fairy

(excerpt)


...

          177But let us leave Queen Mab a while,
          178Through many a gate, o'er many a stile,
          179That now had gotten by this wile,
          180   Her dear Pigwiggen kissing;
          181And tell how Oberon doth fare,
          182Who grew as mad as any hare,
          183When he had sought each place with care,
          184   And found his queen was missing.

          185By grisly Pluto he doth swear,
          186He rent his clothes, and tore his hair,
          187And as he runneth here and there,
          188   An acorn-cup he greeteth;
          189Which soon he taketh by the stalk,
          190About his head he lets it walk,
          191Nor doth he any creature balk,
          192   But lays on all he meeteth.

          193The Tuscan poet doth advance
          194The frantic Paladine of France,
          195And those more ancient do enhance
          196   Alcides in his fury,
          197And others Ajax Telamon:
          198But to this time there hath been none
          199So bedlam as our Oberon,
          200   Of which I dare assure you.

          201And first encount'ring with a wasp,
          202He in his arms the fly doth clasp,
          203As tho' his breath he forth would grasp,
          204   Him for Pigwiggen taking:
          205'Where is my wife, thou rogue?" quoth he,
          206"Pigwiggen, she is come to thee,
          207  Restore her, or thou di'st by me."
          208  Whereat the poor wasp quaking,

          209Cries, "Oberon, great Fairy King,
          210Content thee, I am no such thing;
          211I am a wasp, behold my sting!"
          212   At which the fairy started;
          213When soon away the wasp doth go,
          214Poor wretch was never frighted so,
          215He thought his wings were much too slow,
          216   O'erjoy'd they so were parted.

          217He next upon a glow-worm light,
          218(You must suppose it now was night)
          219Which, for her hinder part was bright,
          220   He took to be a devil,
          221And furiously doth her assail
          222For carrying fire in her tail;
          223He thrash'd her rough coat with his flail,
          224   The mad king fear'd no evil.

          225"Oh!" quoth the glow-worm "hold thy hand,
          226Thou puissant King of Fairy-land,
          227Thy mighty strokes who may withstand?
          228   Hold, or of life despair I."
          229Together then herself doth roll,
          230And tumbling down into a hole,
          231She seem'd as black as any coal,
          232   Which vext away the fairy.

          233From thence he ran into a hive,
          234Amongst the bees he letteth drive,
          235And down their combs begins to rive,
          236   All likely to have spoiled:
          237Which with their wax his face besmear'd,
          238And with their honey daub'd his beard;
          239It would have made a man afear'd,
          240   To see how he was moiled.

          241A new adventure him betides:
          242He met an ant, which he bestrides,
          243And post thereon away he rides,
          244   Which with his haste doth stumble,
          245And came full over on her snout,
          246Her heels so threw the dirt about,
          247For she by no means could get out,
          248   But over him doth tumble.

          249And being in this piteous case,
          250And all beslurried head and face,
          251On runs he in this wildgoose chase;
          252   As here and there he rambles,
          253Half-blind, against a mole-hill hit,
          254And for a mountain taking it,
          255For all he was out of his wit,
          256   Yet to the top he scrambles.

          257And being gotten to the top,
          258Yet there himself he could not stop,
          259But down on th' other side doth chop,
          260   And to the foot came rumbling:
          261So that the grubs therein that bred,
          262Hearing such turmoil overhead,
          263Thought surely they had all been dead,
          264   So fearful was the jumbling.

          265And falling down into a lake,
          266Which him up to the neck doth take,
          267His fury it doth somewhat slake,
          268   He calleth for a ferry:
          269Where you may some recovery note,
          270What was his club he made his boat,
          271And in his oaken cup doth float,
          272   As safe as in a wherry.

          273Men talk of the adventures strange
          274Of Don Quishott, and of their change,
          275Through which he armed oft did range,
          276   Of Sancha Pancha's travel:
          277But should a man tell every thing,
          278Done by this frantic fairy king,
          279And them in lofty numbers sing,
          280   It well his wits might gravel.

...


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. The battaile of Agincourt .... London: for William Lee, 1627. STC Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto)
First publication date: 1627
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.209.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/8


Other poems by Michael Drayton