Michael Drayton's Idea, 1594,1 needs little comment either for form or for substance. Whatever his merits may be in other forms of poetry, Drayton here reveals a scholastic mind without much evidence of lyric power. Conjecture has found a real woman for the subject of these sonnets, but there is no supporting evidence, and the theory weakens with every reading of the sequence. After a few sonnets dealing directly with the love-story through the conventional themes of the awakening of passion and the lady's hard-heartedness, the poet turns for inspiration to such subjects as the Soul,2 and the Celestial Numbers.3 These are indeed connected with the main theme of love, but the interest of the poet and of the reader is felt to lie chiefly in the academic conceit.
How far Drayton is removed from the normal inspiration of love-poetry is shown by the two sonnets in which, under the titles of Lunacy4 and Folly,5 he studies his passion as a type of mental disease:--
"With fools and children good discretion beares,
Then honest people beare with love and me."
The lady, from all appearances, is forgotten--if indeed Drayton ever thought of one.
1Poems, Oliver Elton, The Spencer Society, 1888, pt. ii.
2Ibid., p. 382.
3Ibid., p. 386.
4Ibid., p. 381.
5Ibid., p. 388.