Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Michael Drayton. 1563–1631
118. Sirena
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 belong'd 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...  30
Our mournful Philomel, 
  That rarest tuner, 
Henceforth in Aperil 
  Shall wake the sooner, 
And to her shall complain  35
  From the thick cover, 
Redoubling every strain 
  Over and over: 
For when my Love too long 
  Her chamber keepeth,  40
As though it suffer'd wrong, 
  The Morning weepeth. 
          On thy bank... 
Oft have I seen the Sun, 
  To do her honour,  45
Fix himself at his noon 
  To look upon her; 
And hath gilt every grove, 
  Every hill near her, 
With his flames from above  50
  Striving to cheer her: 
And when she from his sight 
  Hath herself turnèd, 
He, as it had been night, 
  In clouds hath mournèd.  55
          On thy bank... 
The verdant meads are seen, 
  When she doth view them, 
In fresh and gallant green 
  Straight to renew them;  60
And every little grass 
  Broad itself spreadeth, 
Proud that this bonny lass 
  Upon it treadeth: 
Nor flower is so sweet  65
  In this large cincture, 
But it upon her feet 
  Leaveth some tincture. 
          On thy bank... 
The fishes in the flood,  70
  When she doth angle, 
For the hook strive a-good 
  Them to entangle; 
And leaping on the land, 
  From the clear water,  75
Their scales upon the sand 
  Lavishly scatter; 
Therewith to pave the mould 
  Whereon she passes, 
So herself to behold  80
  As in her glasses. 
          On thy bank... 
When she looks out by night, 
  The stars stand gazing, 
Like comets to our sight  85
  Fearfully blazing; 
As wond'ring at her eyes 
  With their much brightness, 
Which so amaze the skies, 
  Dimming their lightness.  90
The raging tempests are calm 
  When she speaketh, 
Such most delightsome balm 
  From her lips breaketh. 
          On thy bank...  95
In all our Brittany 
  There 's not a fairer, 
Nor can you fit any 
  Should you compare her. 
Angels her eyelids keep, 100
  All hearts surprising; 
Which look whilst she doth sleep 
  Like the sun's rising: 
She alone of her kind 
  Knoweth true measure, 105
And her unmatchèd mind 
  Is heaven's treasure. 
          On thy bank... 
Fair Dove and Darwen clear, 
  Boast ye your beauties, 110
To Trent your mistress here 
  Yet pay your duties: 
My Love was higher born 
  Tow'rds the full fountains, 
Yet she doth moorland scorn 115
  And the Peak mountains; 
Nor would she none should dream 
  Where she abideth, 
Humble as is the stream 
  Which by her slideth. 120
          On thy bank... 
Yet my pour rustic Muse 
  Nothing can move her, 
Nor the means I can use, 
  Though her true lover: 125
Many a long winter's night 
  Have I waked for her, 
Yet this my piteous plight 
  Nothing can stir her. 
All thy sands, silver Trent, 130
  Down to the Humber, 
The sighs that I have spent 
  Never can number. 
        On thy bank, 
        In a rank, 135
        Let thy swans sing her, 
      And with their music 
        Along let them bring her. 
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