Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
The Triumph of David
XIX. Michael Drayton
AND 1 now before yong Dauid could come in,
The host of Israel somewhat doth begin
To rouze itselfe; some climbe the nearest tree,
And some the tops of tents, whence they might see
How this vnarmed youth himselfe would beare        5
Against th’ all-armed giant (which they feare):
Some get vp to the fronts of easie hills,
That by their motion a vast murmure fills
The neighbouring valleys, that th’ enemy thought
Something would by the Israelites be wrought        10
They had not heard of, and they longed to see
What strange and warlike stratagem ’t should be.
  When soone they saw a goodly youth descend,
Himselfe alone, none after to attend,
That at his need with armes might him supply,        15
As meerely carelesse of his enemy:
His head vncouered, and his locks of hayre,
As he came on, being play’d with by the ayre,
Tost to and fro, did with such pleasure moue,
As they had beene prouocatiues for loue:        20
His sleeues stript vp above his elbowes were,
And in his hand a stiffe short staffe did beare,
Which by the leather to it, and the string,
They easily might discerne to be a sling.
Suting to these he wore a shepheard’s scrip,        25
Which from his side hung down vpon his hip.
Those for a champion that did him disdaine,
Cast with themselues what such a thing should meane;
Some seeing him so wonderousely faire,
(As in their eyes he stood beyond compare,)        30
Their verdict gaue, that they had sent him sure
As a choice bayt their champion to alure;
Others, againe, of judgment more precise,
Said they had sent him for a sacrifice,
And though he seem’d thus to be very young,        35
Yet was he well proportioned and strong,
And, with a comely and vndaunted grace,
Holding a steady and most euen pace,
This way, nor that way, neuer stood to gaze;
But, like a man that death could not amaze,        40
Came close vp to Goliah, and so neare
As he might easily reach him with his speare.
  Which when Goliah saw, “Why boy,” quoth he,
“Thou desperate youth, thou tak’st me sure to be
Some dog, I thinke, and vnder thy command,        45
That thus art come to beat me with a wand:
The kites and rauens are not farre away,
Nor beasts of rauin, that shall make a prey
Of a poore corpse, which they from me shall haue,
And their foule bowels shall be all thy graue.”        50
“Vncircumcised slaue,” quoth Dauid then,
“That for thy shape the monster art of men,
Thou thus in brasse com’st arm’d into the field,
And thy huge speare of brasse, of brasse thy shield:
I, in the name of Israel’s God alone,        55
That more then mighty, that Eternall One,
Am come to meet thee, who bids not to feare,
Nor once respect the armes that thou dost beare.
Slaue, marke the earth whereon thou now dost stand,
Ile make thy length to measure so much land,        60
As thou lyest groueling, and within this houre
The birds and beasts thy carkasse shall deuoure.”
  In meantime Dauid, looking in his face,
Betweene his temples saw how large a space
He was to hit, steps backe a yard or two;        65
The gyant, wond’ring what the youth would doe,
Whose nimble hand out of his scrip doth bring
A pebble-stone, and puts it in his sling;
At which the gyant openly doth ieere,
And, as in scorne, stands leaning on his speare,        70
Which giues young Dauid much content to see,
And to himselfe thus secretly saith he:
“Stand but one minute still, stand but so fast,
And haue at all Philistia at a cast.”
When with such slight the shot away he sent,        75
That from his sling as ’t had beene lightning went;
And him so full vpon the forehead smit,
Which gaue a cracke when his thicke scalpe it hit,
As ’t had beene throwne against some rocke or post,
That the shrill clap was heard through either host.        80
Staggering awhile vpon his speare he leant,
Till on a sodaine he began to faint,
When downe he came, like an old oregrowne oake,
His huge roote hewn vp by the labourer’s stroke,
That with his very weight he shooke the ground;        85
His brazen armour gaue a iarring sound,
Like a crackt bell, or vessel chanct to fall
From some high place, which did like death apall.
The proud Philistians, (hopelesse that remaine),
To see their champion, great Goliah, slaine,        90
When such a shout the host of Israel gaue,
As cleft the clouds; and like to men that raue,
(O’rcome with comfort) crye, “The boy, the boy!
O the braue Dauid, Israel’s onely joye!
God’s chosen champion! O most wondrous thing!        95
The great Goliah slaine with a poore sling!”
Themselue incompasse, nor can they containe;
Now are they silent, then they shoute againe.
Of which no notice Dauid seems to take,
But towards the body of the dead doth make,        100
With a faire comely gate; 2 nor doth he runne
As though he gloried in what he had done;
But treading on th’ vncircumcised dead,
With his foot strikes the helmet from his head;
Which with the sword ta’n from the gyant’s side        105
He from the body quickly doth diuide.
  Now the Philistians at this fearefull sight,
Leauing their armes, betake themselues to flight,
Quitting their tents, nor dare a minute stay.
Time wants to carry anything away,        110
Being strongly rowted with a generall feare,
Yet in pursute Saul’s army strikes the reare
To Ekron’s walles, and slew them as they fled,
That Sharam’s plaines lay couered with the dead.
And hauing put the Philistians to foyle,        115
Backe to the tents retire and take the spoyle
Of what they left; and ransacking, they cry,
“A Dauid, Dauid, and the victory!”
  When straightwaies Saul his generall, Abner, sent
For valiant Dauid, that incontinent        120
He should repaire to court; at whose command
He comes along, and beareth in his hand
The gyant’s head, by th’ long hayre of his crowne,
Which by his actiue knee hung dangling downe,
And through the army as he comes along,        125
To gaze vpon him the glad souldiers throng:
Some doe instile him Israel’s onely light,
And other some the valiant Bethlemite.
With coniayes 3 all salute him as he past,
And vpon him their gracious glances cast:        130
He was thought base of him that did not boast—
Nothing but Dauid, Dauid, through the host.
The virgins to their timbrels frame their layes
Of him, till Saul grew iealous of his praise.
Note 1. XIX. Michael Drayton.—The works of this poet, who was born 1563, and died in 1631, were published, partly in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and partly in that of King James. The extracts in this volume are from his poems entitled “David,” and “Noah.” Drayton enjoyed a high degree of popularity during the greater part of his long life, and his name is still regarded with a high degree of respect. His principal works are the “Poly-Olbion,” “Ideas,” “The Barons’ Wars,” and “England’s Heroical Epistles,” all of which are remarkable for historical research, extensive knowledge, and correctness of versification. [back]
Note 2. gate: gait. [back]
Note 3. coniayes: congees. [back]
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