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William Drummond Poet

  • Name  : Drummond of Hawthornden
  • Born  : 1585
  • Died  : 1649
  • Category  : Poets
  • Finest Moment : Writing A Cypress Grove

Born in his family home, Hawthornden Castle, near Edinburgh, on 13 December, 1585. His father served James VI as a gentleman usher. A rather difficult man to pin down, Drummond was 'out of time and sync'. His education included Edinburgh High School and Edinburgh University; he then went, as was common in those days, to the Continent, for further education, if not life. He studied law at Bourges and Paris, but had to return home in 1609 when his father died.

Another upset in his life came when his intended, one Euphemia Cunningham, died. He withdrew almost completely for some time, before nature overtook his dolors and he took a mistress. She bore him three children, but in 1630 he married Elizabeth Logan of Restalrig.

Having a wide knowledge of European literature and command of several languages, he borrowed from these, rather than a more traditional British background. He went against the current trend which was to be a metaphysical poet, instead turning to the Petrarchan tradition. He was also unusual in that he chose to write in English.

His best known writings are perhaps his sonnet For the Baptist, a madrigal beginning Like the Idalian Queen, while in prose his finest piece is recognised to be A Cypress Grove, a meditation upon death. (In those times, never far away.) He followed the Covenant, though wa sprobably a royalist at heart, and with the increasing religious troubles of the mid-17th century, he fell deeper into poverty.

Ben Jonson paid a visit to Drummond in 1618. Other friends included the poets Michael Drayton and Sir William Alexander. He died on 4 December, 1649.

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