Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Sirena
By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)
 
NEAR to the silver Trent
  Sirena dwelleth;
She to whom Nature lent
  All that excelleth;
By which the Muses late        5
  And the neat Graces
Have for their greater state
  Taken their places;
Twisting an anadem
  Wherewith to crown her,        10
As it belonged to them
  Most to renown her.
      On thy bank,
      In a rank,
      Let thy swans sing her,        15
    And with their music
      Along let them bring her.
 
Tagus and Pactolus
  Are to thee debtor,
Nor for their gold to us        20
  Are they the better:
Henceforth of all the rest
  Be thou the River
Which, as the daintiest,
  Puts them down ever.        25
For as my precious one
  O’er thee doth travel,
She to pearl paragon
  Turneth thy gravel.
      On thy bank
 
Our mournful Philomel,        30
  That rarest tuner,
Henceforth in Aperil
  Shall wake the sooner,
And to her shall complain
  From the thick cover,        35
Redoubling every strain
  Over and over:
For when my Love too long
  Her chamber keepeth,
As though it suffered wrong,        40
  The Morning weepeth.
      On thy bank
 
Oft have I seen the Sun,
  To do her honour,
Fix himself at his noon
  To look upon her;        45
And hath gilt every grove,
  Every hill near her,
With his flames from above
  Striving to cheer her:
And when she from his sight        50
  Hath herself turnèd,
He, as it had been night,
  In clouds hath mournèd.
      On thy bank
 
The verdant meads are seen,
  When she doth view them,        55
In fresh and gallant green
  Straight to renew them;
And every little grass
  Broad itself spreadeth,
Proud that this bonny lass        60
  Upon it treadeth:
Nor flower, is so sweet
  In this large cincture,
But it upon her feet
  Leaveth some tincture.
      On thy bank
        65
 
The fishes in the flood,
  When she doth angle,
For the hook strive a-good
  Them to entangle;
And leaping on the land,        70
  From the clear water,
Their scales upon the sand
  Lavishly scatter;
—Therewith to pave the mould
  Whereon she passes,        75
So herself to behold
  As in her glasses.
      On thy bank
 
When she looks out by night,
  The stars stand gazing,
Like comets to our sight        80
  Fearfully blazing;
As wond’ring at her eyes
  With their much brightness,
Which so amaze the skies,
  Dimming their lightness.        85
The raging tempests are calm
  When she speaketh,
Such most delightsome balm
  From her lips breaketh.
      On thy bank
 
In all our Brittany        90
  There’s not a fairer,
Nor can you fit any
  Should you compare her.
Angels her eyelids keep,
  All hearts surprising;        95
Which look whilst she doth sleep
  Like the sun’s rising:
She alone of her kind
  Knoweth true measure,
And her unmatchèd mind        100
  Is heaven’s treasure.
      On thy bank
 
Fair Dove and Derwent clear,
  Boast ye your beauties,
To Trent your mistress here
  Yet pay your duties:        105
My Love was higher born
  Tow’rds the full fountains,
Yet she doth moorland scorn
  And the Peak mountains;
Nor would she none should dream        110
  Where she abideth,
Humble as is the stream
  Which by her slideth.
      On thy bank
 
Yet my poor rustic Muse
  Nothing can move her,        115
Nor the means I can use
  Though her true lover:
Many a long winter’s night
  Have I waked for her,
Yet this my piteous plight        120
  Nothing can stir her.
All thy sands, silver Trent,
  Down to the Humber,
The sighs that I have spent
  Never can number.        125
      On thy bank,
      In a rank,
      Let thy swans sing her,
    And with their music
      Along let them bring her.        130
 
 
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