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Michael Drayton

(1563—1631) poet


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(1563–1631),

of whose personal life little is known. He died in comparative poverty, but was buried in Westminster Abbey.

He was an extremely prolific writer, producing historical, topographical, and religious verse, as well as odes, sonnets, and satires. He published Idea: The Shepheards Garland (1593), eclogues in the Spenserian manner including praise of Queen Elizabeth and lament for the death of Sidney; Ideas Mirrour (1594), a sonnet sequence, which in its final version, entitled Idea (1619), included the famous sonnet ‘Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part’. His poems on legendary and historical figures began c.1593 with Peirs Gaveston, followed by Matilda (1594), Robert, Duke of Normandy (1596), and Mortimeriados (1596), later revised as The Barrons Wars (1603). Englands Heroicall Epistles (1597) was modelled on Ovid's Heroides; it consists of twelve pairs of verse letters exchanged by lovers from English history. Among later works are The Owle (1604), an obscure satire; and Odes (1606). This innovatory collection included his ‘Ballad of Agincourt’, which opens with the lines:

Fayre stood the winde for France

When we our sailes advaunce.

He later wrote a narrative poem on the same subject, The Battaile of Agincourt (1627); the same volume also included The Miseries of Queene Margarite, Nimphidia, The Court of Fayrie, and the interesting epistle to Henry Reynolds ‘Of Poets and Poesie’. Drayton's largest project was his great topographical poem on England, The Poly‐Olbion, written 1598–1622.

Subjects: literature.


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Works by Michael Drayton