To Master George Sandys Treasurer For The English Colony In Virginia

A poem by Michael Drayton

Friend, if you thinke my Papers may supplie
You, with some strange omitted Noueltie,
Which others Letters yet haue left vntould,
You take me off, before I can take hould
Of you at all; I put not thus to Sea,
For two monthes Voyage to Virginia,
With newes which now, a little something here,
But will be nothing ere it can come there.
I feare, as I doe Stabbing; this word, State,
I dare not speake of the Palatinate,
Although some men make it their hourely theame,
And talke what's done in Austria, and in Beame,
I may not so; what Spinola intends,
Nor with his Dutch, which way Prince Maurice bends;
To other men, although these things be free,
Yet (GEORGE) they must be misteries to mee.
I scarce dare praise a vertuous friend that's dead,
Lest for my lines he should be censured;
It was my hap before all other men
To suffer shipwrack by my forward pen:
When King IAMES entred; at which ioyfull time
I taught his title to this Ile in rime:
And to my part did all the Muses win,
With high-pitch P├Žans to applaud him in:
When cowardise had tyed vp euery tongue,
And all stood silent, yet for him I sung;
And when before by danger I was dar'd,
I kick'd her from me, nor a iot I spar'd.
Yet had not my cleere spirit in Fortunes scorne,
Me aboue earth and her afflictions borne;
He next my God on whom I built my trust,
Had left me troden lower then the dust:
But let this passe; in the extreamest ill,
Apollo's brood must be couragious still,
Let Pies, and Dawes, sit dumb before their death,
Onely the Swan sings at the parting breath.
And (worthy GEORGE) by industry and vse,
Let's see what lines Virginia will produce;
Goe on with OVID, as you haue begunne,
With the first fiue Bookes; let your numbers run
Glib as the former, so shall it liue long,
And doe much honour to the English tongue:
Intice the Muses thither to repaire,
Intreat them gently, trayne them to that ayre,
For they from hence may thither hap to fly,
T'wards the sad time which but to fast doth hie,
For Poesie is follow'd with such spight,
By groueling drones that neuer raught her height,
That she must hence, she may no longer staye:
The driery fates prefixed haue the day,
Of her departure, which is now come on,
And they command her straight wayes to be gon;
That bestiall heard so hotly her pursue,
And to her succour, there be very few,
Nay none at all, her wrongs that will redresse,
But she must wander in the wildernesse,
Like to the woman, which that holy IOHN
Beheld in Pathmos in his vision.
As th' English now, so did the stiff-neckt Iewes,
Their noble Prophets vtterly refuse,
And of these men such poore opinions had;
They counted Esay and Ezechiel mad;
When Ieremy his Lamentations writ,
They thought the Wizard quite out of his wit,
Such sots they were, as worthily to ly,
Lock't in the chaines of their captiuity,
Knowledge hath still her Eddy in her Flow,
So it hath beene, and it will still be so.
That famous Greece where learning flourisht most,
Hath of her muses long since left to boast,
Th' vnlettered Turke, and rude Barbarian trades,
Where HOMER sang his lofty Iliads;
And this vaste volume of the world hath taught,
Much may to passe in little time be brought.
As if to Symptoms we may credit giue,
This very time, wherein we two now liue,
Shall in the compasse, wound the Muses more,
Then all the old English ignorance before;
Base Balatry is so belou'd and sought,
And those braue numbers are put by for naught,
Which rarely read, were able to awake,
Bodyes from graues, and to the ground to shake
The wandring clouds, and to our men at armes,
'Gainst pikes and muskets were most powerfull charmes.
That, but I know, insuing ages shall,
Raise her againe, who now is in her fall;
And out of dust reduce our scattered rimes,
Th' reiected iewels of these slothfull times,
Who with the Muses would misspend an hower,
But let blind Gothish Barbarisme deuoure
These feuerous Dogdays, blest by no record,
But to be euerlastingly abhord.
If you vouchsafe rescription, stuffe your quill
With naturall bountyes, and impart your skill,
In the description of the place, that I,
May become learned in the soyle thereby;
Of noble Wyats health, and let me heare,
The Gouernour; and how our people there,
Increase and labour, what supplyes are sent,
Which I confesse shall giue me much content;
But you may saue your labour if you please,
To write to me ought of your Sauages.
As sauage slaues be in great Britaine here,
As any one that you can shew me there
And though for this, Ile say I doe not thirst,
Yet I should like it well to be the first,
Whose numbers hence into Virginia flew,
So (noble Sandis) for this time adue.

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