Introduction to A Pæan Triumphall

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Critical Introduction

In 1603, the Goldsmiths’ Company hired Michael Drayton to write a commendatory poem for the royal entry of King James, an occasion of great splendour and display when the city companies joined forces with the poets and players to turn the entire city into a literal stage. It is not clear if part or any of the poem was read during the entry (Hebel, Tillotson, and Newdigate 5:56), but it was printed after the event and offered for sale, probably capitalizing on the popularity of the souvenir descriptions produced by Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Stephen Harrison, and Gilbert Dugdale.1 A Pæan Trivmphall, Composed for the Societie of the Goldsmiths of London draws upon goldsmithing metaphors, as well as described material aspects of the goldsmiths’ two functions as moneyers and makers of plate. Before moving from its brief description of the city’s welcome of the king to its extended praise of the goldsmiths, the poet invokes silence as the ultimate form of duty, a common enough rhetorical move in panegyric poetry, here effected by imagining words as coins or commodities to be hoarded rather than spent:
Nor are the duties that thy ſubjects owe,
Only compriz’d in this externall ſhow.
For harts are heap’d with thoſe innumered hoords,
That tongues by vttrance cannot vent in words.
(sig. B1r)
The poem has little to say in praise of the king, spending all its encomiastic words on the goldsmiths. It links the economic health of the nation to the Company, making the claim that no kingdome ever was decayed by the needful trade of goldsmithing (sig. B1r). It argues that Goldsmiths help keep in England Sound Bullion [...] Which peace and happie gouernment doth nouriſh, / And with a kingdome doth both fade and floriſh (sig. B1v) by turning it into rich Plate, and Vtenfils. Plate stays in England as an ornament to the land, while coins haue wings (playing on the fact that the ten-shilling angel depicted the archangel Michael on the obverse) and flee the country. It suggests that the Goldsmiths exchange virtuouſly and eschew [t]hat cankerd, baſe, and idel Vſurie" that is antithetical to "[g]ood and induſtrious facultie (sig. B2r). Finally, it explains that they purify rather than debase metal, giving a lengthy technical description of the refining process. If England will concede that London is its chiefe and ſoueraine Citie, then London will graunt her goodly Cheape the grace, / To be her firſt and abſoluteſt place (sig. B3r-B3v). This synecdochic chain works to make Cheape [...] the Starre and Iewell of thy land. The poem ends with an offering of a Trophie and gold-drop’d Lawrell to thy praiſe (sig. B3v), but it is not clear what the trophy is meant to be (Cheapside or the poem) and who is meant to receive the praise. Since the poem tends to hymn the Goldsmiths’ praises rather than those of the king, one might read Drayton’s text as propaganda masquerading as occasional poem, offered to James and the London print market not as royal triumph, but as trade triumph.

Textual Introduction

A Pæan Trivmphall was entered into the Stationers’ Register on 20 March 1603 and printed in 1604 by Felix Kingston for John Flasket. The pamphlet was printed in two quarto gatherings:
  • 4°: A-B4; 8 leaves; $3 signed.
  • Sig. A1r: blank
  • Sig. A1v: blank
  • Sig. A2r: letterpress titlepage
  • Sig. A2v: blank
  • Sig. A3r-B3v: poem
  • Sig. B4r: blank
  • Sig. B4v: blank
There are five copies listed in the English Short Title Catalogue: Bodleian Library (Oxford), Trinity College Library (Dublin), Folger Shakespeare Library, Harvard University, and Huntington Library. The Folger Shakespeare Library copy was filmed for the English Early Books I microfilm series, and that film was digitized for Early English Books Online (EEBO). The digital images were transcribed in EEBO-TCP Phase I. We have corrected the transcription according to MoEML practices. The pages of this copy were cropped close to the text, truncating some of the printed marginalia and catchwords. We have supplied missing characters either from context or by consulting Hebel, Tillotson, and Newdigate.


  1. The Magnificent Entertainment; Ben Jonson, his Part of King James his Royall and Magnificent Entertainment; The Arches of Triumph; and The Time Triumphant. (JJ)


Last modification: 2016-06-04 15:13:12 -0700 (Sat, 04 Jun 2016) (jtakeda)
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MLA citation:

“Introduction to A Paean Trivmphall.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Web. 26 April 2017. <>.

Chicago citation:

“Introduction to A Paean Trivmphall.” n.d. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed April 26, 2017.

APA citation:

Introduction to A Paean Trivmphall. (n.d.). In J. Jenstad (Ed.), The Map of Early Modern London. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from

TEI citation:

<bibl> <title level="a">Introduction to A Paean Trivmphall</title>. (<date>n.d.</date>). In <editor><persName><forename>J.</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></persName></editor> (Ed.), <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>. Retrieved <date when="2017-04-26">April 26, 2017</date>, from <ref target=""></ref> </bibl>