Idea: To the Reader of these Sonnets

Original Text: 
Michael Drayton, Poems (W. Stansby for J. Swethwicke, 1619). STC 7222. Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1969. PR 2255 A1 1619A.
2At this first sight here let him lay them by
3And seek elsewhere in turning other books,
4Which better may his labour satisfy.
5No far-fetch'd sigh shall ever wound my breast;
7Nor in "Ah me's!" my whining sonnets drest:
8A libertine, fantasticly I sing.
9My verse is the true image of my mind,
10Ever in motion, still desiring change;
11And as thus to variety inclin'd,
12So in all humours sportively I range:
13My Muse is rightly of the English strain,
14That cannot long one fashion entertain.


1] A sonnet-sequence, first printed in 1594 as Ideas Mirrour, enlarged and revised in 1599, again in 1602 and 1605 and brought up to sixty-four sonnets in the final authorized edition of 1619. The text in Representative Poetry is based on the edition of 1619, the dates supplied at the bottom of the poems indicating their first appearance in print. Anne, the younger daughter of Drayton's early patron, Sir Henry Goodere of Polesworth Hall, Warwickshire, is probably the "Idea" of the sonnets--see Sonnet LIII. The title, borrowed from a French sonnet-sequence, symbolizes Plato's divine idea of beauty. See Spenser's Hymne in Honour of Beauty, 29-49. This introduction hardly fits the tone of the sequence. Back to Line
6] Probably suggested by Marston's satire, Scourge of Vilainie, 8, which attacks erotic poetry and "Ah me's." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
F. D. Hoeniger
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.129.