Friday, June 09, 2006

Michael Drayton does Friday Poetry Blogging

Michael Drayton (1563-1631) is one of those guys you run across in big old anthologies with a few choice poems. I've never read much more of his works than those few poems, to be honest, but I enjoy the sharpness of his wit.

Now, during the late 16th century, just about anyone who fancied himself or herself a writer wrote a sonnet sequence. Some of these sequences are dreadful; some reveal a surprising gem here and there. Spenser's, Sidney's, and Shakespeare's sequences, probably more than any others, get read in the whole still, but not so much. Sometimes it feels like going to a massive art museum when I read these sequences; I know there's a lot in there, but after a certain point, I just can't focus well enough to get much out of any given poem.

That said, I love teaching sonnets. They truly work for me when I take the time to work with them.

Drayton first wrote his sequence as Idea's Mirror in 1594; he revised them and republished them as Idea in 1619, well after the craze for sonnets had passed.

And so, sonnet 61 from Michael Drayton's sequence Idea.

Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.

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