The Sacrifice To Apollo

A poem by Michael Drayton

Priests of APOLLO, sacred be the Roome,
For this learn'd Meeting: Let no barbarous Groome,
How braue soe'r he bee,
Attempt to enter;
But of the Muses free,
None here may venter;
This for the Delphian Prophets is prepar'd:
The prophane Vulgar are from hence debar'd.

And since the Feast so happily begins,
Call vp those faire Nine, with their Violins;
They are begot by IOVE,
Then let vs place them,
Where no Clowne in may shoue,
That may disgrace them:
But let them neere to young APOLLO sit;
So shall his Foot-pace ouer-flow with Wit.

Where be the Graces, where be those fayre Three?
In any hand they may not absent bee:
They to the Gods are deare,
And they can humbly
Teach vs, our Selues to beare,
And doe things comely:
They, and the Muses, rise both from one Stem,
They grace the Muses, and the Muses them.

Bring forth your Flaggons (fill'd with sparkling Wine)
Whereon swolne BACCHVS, crowned with a Vine,
Is grauen, and fill out,
It well bestowing,
To eu'ry Man about,
In Goblets flowing:
Let not a Man drinke, but in Draughts profound;
To our God PHOEBVS let the Health goe Round.

Let your Iests flye at large; yet therewithall
See they be Salt, but yet not mix'd with Gall:
Not tending to disgrace,
But fayrely giuen,
Becomming well the place,
Modest, and euen;
That they with tickling Pleasure may prouoke
Laughter in him, on whom the Iest is broke.

Or if the deeds of HEROES ye rehearse,
Let them be sung in so well-ord'red Verse,
That each word haue his weight,
Yet runne with pleasure;
Holding one stately height,
In so braue measure,
That they may make the stiffest Storme seeme weake,
And dampe IOVES Thunder, when it lowd'st doth speake.

And if yee list to exercise your Vayne,
Or in the Sock, or in the Buskin'd Strayne,
Let Art and Nature goe
One with the other;
Yet so, that Art may show
Nature her Mother;
The thick-brayn'd Audience liuely to awake,
Till with shrill Claps the Theater doe shake.

Sing Hymnes to BACCHVS then, with hands vprear'd,
Offer to IOVE, who most is to be fear'd;
From him the Muse we haue,
From him proceedeth
More then we dare to craue;
'Tis he that feedeth
Them, whom the World would starue; then let the Lyre
Sound, whilst his Altars endlesse flames expire.

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