Poly-Olbion is a topographic poem depicting the counties in England and Wales, written by Michael Drayton (1563 – 1631) and published in 1612, with a reprint in 1622.
Drayton was an English poet, specialising in historical poetry, who came to prominence in the Elizabethan era. Every poem was anthropomorphised … then brought to artistic life by William Hole, a skilled engraver, who died in 1624 (his d.o.b.) is uncertain.
Part of Cornwall - showing
St Michael's Mount and the Scilly Isles
Poly-Olbion came to my notice (somehow) as colouring books– so guess who had to investigate...
Drayton had adopted the concept of celebrating all the points of topographical or antiquarian interest in his homeland …
|Title page of Poly-Olbion -|
as engraved on copper
plate by William Hole
Albion's Glorious Ile – 'Of Albion's glorious Ile – I write.' - Drayton's used the rhetorical device of prosopopoeia throughout his song-poems.
As I didn't understand it – for elucidation: to remind me and let you know … prosopopoeia is when (in this case) an abstract thing is personified …
England in the 1500s had very few roads, when the rivers were an important and mythologised natural feature – which the poem eulogises …
River Severn - showing south Wales, with
the English of St George on the pennant,
on the opposite shore
Part of the blurb 'as we move from place to place: an extraordinary textual repository of English and Welsh history, topography, legends, wildlife and traditions is amassed'.
Every subject imaginable is considered: Roman builders, English saints, the birds of Arden Forest, Dutch settlers, the great sheep of the Cotswolds, falconry, Robin Hood, sea monsters, Druidry, civil wars, herbal cures.
Quite honestly – that's even more than my brain carries! - it has been boggling at these songs/ poems …
Well I think perhaps I'd better just get to why I'm writing this post … when I was out in Canada I came across adults' colouring art pages … but quite honestly they didn't do anything for me …
|Cover for one of the volumes|
Then these colouring books appeared and I was entranced – whether I actually sit and colour them in is another matter – being somewhat incompetent in that area …
Who'd have thought the art of colouring was popular during the 17th century and beyond – when many of the original monochrome copies of these maps would be hand-coloured by both amateur and professional colourists.
If you feel another post could enhance this one to add a bit more information – then I'll give it a go next time …
A few links: The University of Exeter's takes you to the others, with some explanatory details set out … particularly relevant are that the workshops were delivered for children, with Special Education Needs, mainly in the South-West region of England … the Royal Geographical Society was also involved.
The Poly-Olbion Project/s … the children's project ran concurrently with the scholarly version …
Michael Drayton c/o Wikipedia
PS - the books are now out of print ... so I was lucky to have found some ... publication was in 2015 ... so time has passed.
Positive Letters Inspirational Society