In Song 4, Drayton, preparing to sing Wales, "Nurse of all the British race" (108), identifies himself with the power of Taliesin: "Fill me a bowie of Meath, my working spirit to raise: / And ere seven Bookes have end, I'le strike so high a string, / Thy Bards shall stand amaz'd with wonder, whilst I sing; / That Taliessen, once which made the Rivers dance, / And in his rapture raiz'd the Mountaines from their trance, / Shall tremble at my Verse, rebounding from the skies; / Which like an earth-quake shakes the Tomb wherein he lies" (112-18).
With Taliesin and Merlin, as with bards in general, Drayton finally proves unable to contend with antiquarianism.
On the other hand, the standing of bards as purveyors of culture was much enhanced by the fact of their survival; that they had always been there - i.
In the invocation (to the bards, as we recall), when Drayton speaks of metempsychosis, "as those Druides taught, which kept the British rites," he is careful to remind us that this is a heathen doctrine: "But their opinions faild, by error led awry, / As since cleere truth hath shew'd to their posteritie" (1.
Drayton acknowledged the antiquarians and many were his friends, but their notion of anachronism was hateful to him and he struggled against it, using the best tools at his command: bards and druids.
13 The most important classical references to the Celtic bards come from Strabo, 2:245; Diodorus Siculus, 3:179; Lucan, 37.