To the Virginian Voyage

By Michael Drayton 1563–1631 Michael Drayton
You brave Heroique Minds,
Worthy your countries name,
   That honour still pursue,
   Goe, and subdue,
Whilst loyt'ring Hinds
Lurke here at home, with shame.

Britans, you stay too long,
Quickly aboord bestow you,
    And with a merry Gale
    Swell your stretch'd Sayle,
With Vowes as strong,
As the Winds that blow you.

Your Course securely steere,
West and by South forth keepe,
    Rocks, Lee-shores, nor Sholes,
    When Eolus scowles,
You need not feare,
So absolute the Deepe.

And cheerfully at Sea,
Successe you still intice,
    To get the Pearle and Gold,
    And ours to hold,
Earth's onely Paradise.

Where nature hath in store
Fowle, Venison, and Fish,
    And the fruitfull'st Soyle,
    Without your Toyle,
Three Harvests more,
All greater than your wish.

And the ambitious Vine
Crownes with his purple Masse,
    The Cedar reaching hie
    To kisse the Sky,
The Cypresse, Pine
And use-full Sassafras.

To whose, the golden Age
Still Natures lawes doth give,
    No other Cares that tend,
    But Them to defend
From Winters age,
That long there doth not live.

When as the Lushious smell
Of that delicious Land,
    Above the Seas that flowes,
    The cleere Wind throwes,
Your Hearts to swell
Approching the deare Strand.

In kenning of the Shore,
(Thanks to God first given,)
    O you, the happy'st men,
    Be Frolike then,
Let Cannons roare,
Frighting the wide Heaven.

And in Regions farre
Such Heroes bring yee foorth,
    As those from whom We came,
    And plant Our name,
Under that Starre
Not knowne unto our North.

And as there Plenty growes
Of Lawrell every where,
    Apollo's Sacred tree,
    You it may see,
A Poets Browes
To crowne, that may sing there.

Thy Voyage attend,
    Whose Reading shall inflame
    Men to seeke Fame,
And much commend
To after-times thy Wit.

Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

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Poet Michael Drayton 1563–1631


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Heroes & Patriotism, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys

 Michael  Drayton


In late-seventeenth-century estimates of literary stature, Michael Drayton ranks only slightly below Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and Ben Jonson. Until the middle of the twentieth century, Drayton's position as an important minor poet seemed secure, but his lengthy historical poems did not lend themselves to the techniques of close reading popularized during the vogue of New Criticism in the 1940s and after. An . . .

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SUBJECT Heroes & Patriotism, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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