To Himselfe And The Harpe

A poem by Michael Drayton

And why not I, as hee
That's greatest, if as free,
(In sundry strains that striue,
Since there so many be)
Th' old Lyrick kind reuiue?

I will, yea, and I may;
Who shall oppose my way?
For what is he alone,
That of himselfe can say,
Hee's Heire of Helicon?

APOLLO, and the Nine,
Forbid no Man their Shrine,
That commeth with hands pure;
Else be they so diuine,
They will not him indure.

For they be such coy Things,
That they care not for Kings,
And dare let them know it;
Nor may he touch their Springs,
That is not borne a Poet.

[1]The Phocean it did proue,
Whom when foule Lust did moue,
Those Mayds vnchast to make,
Fell, as with them he stroue,
His Neck and iustly brake.

That instrument ne'r heard,
Strooke by the skilfull Bard,
It strongly to awake;
But it th' infernalls skard,
And made Olympus quake.

[2]As those Prophetike strings
Whose sounds with fiery Wings,
Draue Fiends from their abode,
Touch'd by the best of Kings,
That sang the holy Ode.

[3]So his, which Women slue,
And it int' Hebrus threw,
Such sounds yet forth it sent,
The Bankes to weepe that drue,
As downe the streame it went.

[4]That by the Tortoyse shell,
To MAYAS Sonne it fell,
The most thereof not doubt
But sure some Power did dwell,
In Him who found it out.

[5]The Wildest of the field,
And Ayre, with Riuers t' yeeld,
Which mou'd; that sturdy Glebes,
And massie Oakes could weeld,
To rayse the pyles of Thebes.

And diuersly though Strung,
So anciently We sung,
To it, that Now scarce knowne,
If first it did belong
To Greece, or if our Owne.

[6]The Druydes imbrew'd,
With Gore, on Altars rude
With Sacrifices crown'd,
In hollow Woods bedew'd,
Ador'd the Trembling sound.

[7]Though wee be All to seeke,
Of PINDAR that Great Greeke,
To Finger it aright,
The Soule with power to strike,
His hand retayn'd such Might.

[8]Or him that Rome did grace
Whose Ayres we all imbrace,
That scarcely found his Peere,
Nor giueth PHOEBVS place,
For Strokes diuinely cleere.

[9]The Irish I admire,
And still cleaue to that Lyre,
As our Musike's Mother,
And thinke, till I expire,
APOLLO'S such another.

As Britons, that so long
Haue held this Antike Song,
And let all our Carpers
Forbeare their fame to wrong,
Th' are right skilfull Harpers.

[10]Southerne, I long thee spare,
Yet wish thee well to fare,
Who me pleased'st greatly,
As first, therefore more rare,
Handling thy Harpe neatly.

To those that with despight
Shall terme these Numbers slight,
Tell them their Iudgement's blind,
Much erring from the right,
It is a Noble kind.

[11]Nor is 't the Verse doth make,
That giueth, or doth take,
'Tis possible to clyme,
To kindle, or to slake,
Although in SKELTON'S Ryme.

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