King Wulpheres widdowed Pheere, Queene Ermineld, whose life
At Ely is renown’d, and Ermenburg, the wife
To Mervald raigning there, a Saint may safely passe,
Who to three Virgin-Saints the vertuous mother was,
The remnant of her dayes, religiously that bare,
Immonastred in Kent, where first she breath’d the ayre. (24.1267–72)
Geographical features are frequently given a sense of activity in Poly-Olbion, as Drayton forms verbs from elements of the landscape usually presented as inert. Here, he describes the life of Queen Ermineld, who was ‘immonastred’, or shut up in a monastery. There is something more imposing about the monastery as a building when it is presented as an agent of action, rather than simply a location. Other instances of this in the poem include ‘enisle’, which gives the sense of water cutting off a piece of land to form an island, and ‘invale’, which is used to describe a river surrounding itself in a valley (8.448, 14.91). ‘Intermine’, meanwhile, describes the way the ground of Gisborough is intersected by seams of alum: ‘Her earth with Allome veines so richly intermin’d’ (28.344). All of these words make inanimate objects active, giving a sense of vibrancy to the landscape Drayton describes: it is not presented as a static entity that exists for the benefit of people, but has an agency of its own.