An Excerpt from
 Michael Drayton's

Excerpt from 'Matilda'

IF T O this time some sacred Muse retaine,
Those choise regards by perfect vertue taught,
And in her chast and virgine-humble vaine,
Doth kindly cherrish one pure Mayden thought,
In whom my death hath but true pitty wrought,
    By her I crave my life may be reveald,
    Which blacke oblivion hath too long conceald.

Or on the earth if mercy may be found,
Or if remorce may touch the harts of men,
Or eyes may lend me teares to wash my wound,
Or passion be exprest by mortall pen,
Yet may I hope of some compassion then :
    Three hundreth yeeres by all men over past,
    Now finding one to pittie mee at last.

You blessed Impes of heavenly chastitie,
You sacred Vestalls, Angels onely glory,
Right presidents of imortalitie,
Onely to you I consecrate my stone.
It shall suffise for mee if you be sorie.
    If you alone shall deigne to grace his verse,
    Which serves for odours to perfume my hearse.

Let your delicious heaven-distilling teares,
Soften the earth to send mee from her wombe,
With Conquerors Lawrell crowne my golden haires,
With flowry garlands beautifie my tombe,
Be you the Heralds to proclaime me roome,
    With sable Cypresse maske your lovely eyes,
    Mourning my death with dolefull Elegies.

Faire Rosamond, of all so highly graced,
Recorded in the lasting Booke of Fame,
And in our Sainted Legendarie placed,
By him who strives to stellifie her name,
Yet will some Matrons say she was to blame.
    Though all the world bewitched with his ryme,
    Yet all his skill cannot excuse her cryme.

Lucrece, of whom proude Rome hath boasted long,
Lately reviv'd to live another age,
And here ariv'd to tell of Tarquins wrong,
Her chast deniall, and the Tyrants rage,
Acting her passions on our stately stage,
    She is remembred, all forgetting me,
    Yet l as fayre and chast, as ere was she.

Shores wife is in her wanton humor sooth'd,
And modern Poets, still applaud her praise,
Our famous Elstreds wrinckled browes are smooth'd,
Call'd from her grave to see these latter daies,
And happy's hee, their glory high'st can raise.
    "Thus looser wantons, still are praisd of many,
    "Vice oft findes friends, but vertue seldome any.

O faire Charites, Joves most deere delight,
O lend me now one heaven-inchanting lay,
And you rare Nimphes which please Apollos sight,
Bring spreading Palme and never-dying Bay,
With Olive branches strew the pleasant way :
    And with your Viols sound one pleasing straine,
    To ayde his Muse, and raise his humble vaine.

And thou ô Beta, Soveraigne of his thought,
Englands Diana, let him thinke on thee,
By thy perfections let his Muse be taught,
And in his breast so deepe imprinted be,
That he may write of sacred Chastitie :
    Though not like Collin in thy Britomart,
    Yet loves as much, although he wants his arte.

O my dread Soveraigne, rare and princely Mayd,
From whose pure eyes the world derives her light,
InAngels robes with majestie arayd,
In whom true vertue is defin'd aright :
O let these lines be gracious in thy sight,
    In whom alone, as in a perfect glas,
    All may discerne how chast Matilda was.

Drayton, Michael. The Works of Michael Drayton. Volume I.
J. William Hebel, ed. Oxford: Shakespeare Head Press, 1931. 214-215.

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