Michael Drayton

WHAT one of all the isles to Cambria doth belong

(To Britain, I might say, and yet not do her wrong)

Doth equal me in soil, so good for grass and grain?

As should my Wales (where still Brute’s offspring doth remain)

That mighty store of men, yet more of beasts doth breed,

By famine or by war constrained be to need,

And England’s neighboring shires their succour would deny;

My only self her wants could plenteously supply.

  What island is there found upon the Irish coast,

In which that kingdom seems to be delighted most,

And seek you all along the rough Vergivian shore,

Where the encountering tides outrageously do roar,

That bows not at my beck, as they to me did owe

The duty subjects should unto their sovereign show;

So that the Eubonian man, a kingdom long time known,

Which wisely hath been ruled by princes of her own,

In my alliance joys, as in the Albanian seas

The Arrans, and by them the scattered Eubides

Rejoice even at my name; and put on mirthful cheer,

When of my good estate they by the sea-nymphs hear.

  Sometimes within my shades, in many an ancient wood,

Whose often-twined tops great Phœbus’ fires withstood,

The fearless British priests, under an aged oak,

Taking a milk-white bull, unstrained with the yoke,

And with an ax of gold, from that Jove-sacred tree

The misleto cut down; then with a bended knee

On the unhewed altar laid, put to the hallowed fires:

And whilst in the sharp flame the trembling flesh expires,

As their strong fury moved (when all the rest adore)

Pronouncing their desires the sacrifice before,        30

Up to the eternal heaven their bloodied hands did rear;

And, whilst the murmuring woods even shuddered as with fear,

Preached to the beardless youth the soul’s immortal state;

To other bodies still how it should transmigrate,

That to contempt of death them strongly might excite.

  To dwell in my black shades the wood-gods did delight,

Untrodden with resort that long so gloomy were,

As when the Roman came, it strook him sad with fear

To look upon my face, which then was called the Dark;

Until in after-time, the English for a mark

Gave me this hateful name, which I must ever bear,

And Anglesey from them am called everywhere.