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Title: A Defence of Poesie and Poems
Author: Sidney, Philip
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Defence of Poesie and Poems" ***

Transcribed from the 1891 Cassell & Company edition by David Price, email

                       CASSELL’S NATIONAL LIBRARY.

                                * * * * *

                           A DEFENCE OF POESIE

                            SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                       CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED:
                      _LONDON_, _PARIS & MELBOURNE_.


PHILIP SIDNEY was born at Penshurst, in Kent, on the 29th of November,
1554.  His father, Sir Henry Sidney, had married Mary, eldest daughter of
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and Philip was the eldest of their
family of three sons and four daughters.  Edmund Spenser and Walter
Raleigh were of like age with Philip Sidney, differing only by about a
year, and when Elizabeth became queen, on the 17th of November, 1558,
they were children of four or five years old.

In the year 1560 Sir Henry Sidney was made Lord President of Wales,
representing the Queen in Wales and the four adjacent western counties,
as a Lord Deputy represented her in Ireland.  The official residence of
the Lord President was at Ludlow Castle, to which Philip Sidney went with
his family when a child of six.  In the same year his father was
installed as a Knight of the Garter.  When in his tenth year Philip
Sidney was sent from Ludlow to Shrewsbury Grammar School, where he
studied for three or four years, and had among his schoolfellows Fulke
Greville, afterwards Lord Brooke, who remained until the end of Sidney’s
life one of his closest friends.  When he himself was dying he directed
that he should be described upon his tomb as “Fulke Greville, servant to
Queen Elizabeth, counsellor to King James, and friend to Sir Philip
Sidney.”  Even Dr. Thomas Thornton, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, under
whom Sidney was placed when he was entered to Christ Church in his
fourteenth year, at Midsummer, in 1568, had it afterwards recorded on his
tomb that he was “the tutor of Sir Philip Sidney.”

Sidney was in his eighteenth year in May, 1572, when he left the
University to continue his training for the service of the state, by
travel on the Continent.  Licensed to travel with horses for himself and
three servants, Philip Sidney left London in the train of the Earl of
Lincoln, who was going out as ambassador to Charles IX., in Paris.  He
was in Paris on the 24th of August in that year, which was the day of the
Massacre of St. Bartholomew.  He was sheltered from the dangers of that
day in the house of the English Ambassador, Sir Francis Walsingham, whose
daughter Fanny Sidney married twelve years afterwards.

From Paris Sidney travelled on by way of Heidelberg to Frankfort, where
he lodged at a printer’s, and found a warm friend in Hubert Languet,
whose letters to him have been published.  Sidney was eighteen and
Languet fifty-five, a French Huguenot, learned and zealous for the
Protestant cause, who had been Professor of Civil Law in Padua, and who
was acting as secret minister for the Elector of Saxony when he first
knew Sidney, and saw in him a future statesman whose character and genius
would give him weight in the counsels of England, and make him a main
hope of the Protestant cause in Europe.  Sidney travelled on with Hubert
Languet from Frankfort to Vienna, visited Hungary, then passed to Italy,
making for eight weeks Venice his head-quarters, and then giving six
weeks to Padua.  He returned through Germany to England, and was in
attendance it the Court of Queen Elizabeth in July, 1575.  Next month his
father was sent to Ireland as Lord Deputy, and Sidney lived in London
with his mother.

At this time the opposition of the Mayor and Corporation of the City of
London to the acting of plays by servants of Sidney’s uncle, the Earl of
Leicester, who had obtained a patent for them, obliged the actors to
cease from hiring rooms or inn yards in the City, and build themselves a
house of their own a little way outside one of the City gates, and wholly
outside the Lord Mayor’s jurisdiction.  Thus the first theatre came to be
built in England in the year 1576.  Shakespeare was then but twelve years
old, and it was ten years later that he came to London.

In February, 1577, Philip Sidney, not yet twenty-three years old, was
sent on a formal embassy of congratulation to Rudolph II. upon his
becoming Emperor of Germany, but under the duties of the formal embassy
was the charge of watching for opportunities of helping forward a
Protestant League among the princes of Germany.  On his way home through
the Netherlands he was to convey Queen Elizabeth’s congratulations to
William of Orange on the birth of his first child, and what impression he
made upon that leader of men is shown by a message William sent
afterwards through Fulke Greville to Queen Elizabeth.  He said “that if
he could judge, her Majesty had one of the ripest and greatest
counsellors of State in Philip Sidney that then lived in Europe; to the
trial of which he was pleased to leave his own credit engaged until her
Majesty was pleased to employ this gentleman, either amongst her friends
or enemies.”

Sidney returned from his embassy in June, 1577.  At the time of his
departure, in the preceding February, his sister Mary, then twenty years
old, had become the third wife of Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and
her new home as Countess of Pembroke was in the great house at Wilton,
about three miles from Salisbury.  She had a measure of her brother’s
genius, and was of like noble strain.  Spenser described her as

    “The gentlest shepherdess that lives this day,
    And most resembling, both in shape and spright,
    Her brother dear.”

Ben Jonson, long after her brother had passed from earth, wrote upon her
death the well-known epitaph:—

    “Underneath this sable herse
    Lies the subject of all verse,
    Sidney’s sister, Pembroke’s mother.
    Death, ere thou hast slain another,
    Learn’d, and fair, and good as she,
    Time shall throw a dart at thee.”

Sidney’s sister became Pembroke’s mother in 1580, while her brother
Philip was staying with her at Wilton.  He had early in the year written
a long argument to the Queen against the project of her marriage with the
Duke of Anjou, which she then found it politic to seem to favour.  She
liked Sidney well, but resented, or appeared to resent, his intrusion of
advice; he also was discontented with what seemed to be her policy, and
he withdrew from Court for a time.  That time of seclusion, after the end
of March, 1580, he spent with his sister at Wilton.  They versified
psalms together; and he began to write for her amusement when she had her
baby first upon her hands, his romance of “Arcadia.”  It was never
finished.  Much was written at Wilton in the summer of 1580, the rest in
1581, written, as he said in a letter to her, “only for you, only to you
. . . for severer eyes it is not, being but a trifle, triflingly handled.
Your dear self can best witness the manner, being done in loose sheets of
paper, most of it in your presence, the rest by sheets sent unto you as
fast as they were done.”  He never meant that it should be published;
indeed, when dying he asked that it should be destroyed; but it belonged
to a sister who prized the lightest word of his, and after his death it
was published in 1590 as “The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.”

The book reprinted in this volume was written in 1581, while sheets of
the “Arcadia” were still being sent to Wilton.  But it differs wholly in
style from the “Arcadia.”  Sidney’s “Arcadia” has literary interest as
the first important example of the union of pastoral with heroic romance,
out of which came presently, in France, a distinct school of fiction.
But the genius of its author was at play, it followed designedly the
fashions of the hour in verse and prose, which tended to extravagance of
ingenuity.  The “Defence of Poesy” has higher interest as the first
important piece of literary criticism in our literature.  Here Sidney was
in earnest.  His style is wholly free from the euphuistic extravagance in
which readers of his time delighted: it is clear, direct, and manly; not
the less, but the more, thoughtful and refined for its unaffected
simplicity.  As criticism it is of the true sort; not captious or formal,
still less engaged, as nearly all bad criticism is, more or less, with
indirect suggestion of the critic himself as the one owl in a world of
mice.  Philip Sidney’s care is towards the end of good literature.  He
looks for highest aims, and finds them in true work, and hears God’s
angel in the poet’s song.

The writing of this piece was probably suggested to him by the fact that
an earnest young student, Stephen Gosson, who came from his university
about the time when the first theatres were built, and wrote plays, was
turned by the bias of his mind into agreement with the Puritan attacks
made by the pulpit on the stage (arising chiefly from the fact that plays
were then acted on Sundays), and in 1579 transferred his pen from service
of the players to attack on them, in a piece which he called “The School
of Abuse, containing a Pleasant Invective against Poets, Pipers, Players,
Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of a Commonwealth; setting up the
Flag of Defiance to their mischievous exercise, and overthrowing their
Bulwarks, by Profane Writers, Natural Reason, and Common Experience: a
Discourse as pleasant for Gentlemen that favour Learning as profitable
for all that will follow Virtue.”  This Discourse Gosson dedicated “To
the right noble Gentleman, Master Philip Sidney, Esquire.”  Sidney
himself wrote verse, he was companion with the poets, and counted Edmund
Spenser among his friends.  Gosson’s pamphlet was only one expression of
the narrow form of Puritan opinion that had been misled into attacks on
poetry and music as feeders of idle appetite that withdrew men from the
life of duty.  To show the fallacy in such opinion, Philip Sidney wrote
in 1581 this piece, which was first printed in 1595, nine years after his
death, as a separate publication, entitled “An Apologie for Poetrie.”
Three years afterwards it was added, with other pieces, to the third
edition of his “Arcadia,” and then entitled “The Defence of Poesie.”  In
sixteen subsequent editions it continued to appear as “The Defence of
Poesie.”  The same title was used in the separate editions of 1752 and
1810.  Professor Edward Arber re-issued in 1869 the text of the first
edition of 1595, and restored the original title, which probably was that
given to the piece by its author.  One name is as good as the other, but
as the word “apology” has somewhat changed its sense in current English,
it may be well to go on calling the work “The Defence of Poesie.”

In 1583 Sidney was knighted, and soon afterwards in the same year he
married Frances, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham.  Sonnets written by
him according to old fashion, and addressed to a lady in accordance with
a form of courtesy that in the same old fashion had always been held to
exclude personal suit—personal suit was private, and not public—have led
to grave misapprehension among some critics.  They supposed that he
desired marriage with Penelope Devereux, who was forced by her family in
1580—then eighteen years old—into a hateful marriage with Lord Rich.  It
may be enough to say that if Philip Sidney had desired her for his wife,
he had only to ask for her and have her.  Her father, when dying, had
desired—as any father might—that his daughter might become the wife of
Philip Sidney.  But this is not the place for a discussion of Astrophel
and Stella sonnets.

In 1585 Sidney was planning to join Drake it sea in attack on Spain in
the West Indies.  He was stayed by the Queen.  But when Elizabeth
declared war on behalf of the Reformed Faith, and sent Leicester with an
expedition to the Netherlands, Sir Philip Sidney went out, in November,
1585, as Governor of Flushing.  His wife joined him there.  He fretted at
inaction, and made the value of his counsels so distinct that his uncle
Leicester said after his death that he began by “despising his youth for
a counsellor, not without bearing a hand over him as a forward young man.
Notwithstanding, in a short time he saw the sun so risen above his
horizon that both he and all his stars were glad to fetch light from
him.”  In May, 1586, Sir Philip Sidney received news of the death of his
father.  In August his mother died.  In September he joined in the
investment of Zutphen.  On the 22nd of September his thigh-bone was
shattered by a musket ball from the trenches.  His horse took fright and
galloped back, but the wounded man held to his seat.  He was then carried
to his uncle, asked for water, and when it was given, saw a dying soldier
carried past, who eyed it greedily.  At once he gave the water to the
soldier, saying, “Thy necessity is yet greater than mine.”  Sidney lived
on, patient in suffering, until the 17th of October.  When he was
speechless before death, one who stood by asked Philip Sidney for a sign
of his continued trust in God.  He folded his hands as in prayer over his
breast, and so they were become fixed and chill, when the watchers placed
them by his side; and in a few minutes the stainless representative of
the young manhood of Elizabethan England passed away.

                                                                     H. M.


WHEN the right virtuous Edward Wotton {1} and I were at the Emperor’s
court together, we gave ourselves to learn horsemanship of Gio. Pietro
Pugliano; one that, with great commendation, had the place of an esquire
in his stable; and he, according to the fertileness of the Italian wit,
did not only afford us the demonstration of his practice, but sought to
enrich our minds with the contemplation therein, which he thought most
precious.  But with none, I remember, mine ears were at any time more
laden, than when (either angered with slow payment, or moved with our
learner-like admiration) he exercised his speech in the praise of his

He said, soldiers were the noblest estate of mankind, and horsemen the
noblest of soldiers.  He said, they were the masters of war and ornaments
of peace, speedy goers, and strong abiders, triumphers both in camps and
courts; nay, to so unbelieved a point he proceeded, as that no earthly
thing bred such wonder to a prince, as to be a good horseman; skill of
government was but a “pedanteria” in comparison.  Then would he add
certain praises by telling what a peerless beast the horse was, the only
serviceable courtier, without flattery, the beast of most beauty,
faithfulness, courage, and such more, that if I had not been a piece of a
logician before I came to him, I think he would have persuaded me to have
wished myself a horse.  But thus much, at least, with his no few words,
he drove into me, that self love is better than any gilding, to make that
seem gorgeous wherein ourselves be parties.

Wherein, if Pugliano’s strong affection and weak arguments will not
satisfy you, I will give you a nearer example of myself, who, I know not
by what mischance, in these my not old years and idlest times, having
slipped into the title of a poet, am provoked to say something unto you
in the defence of that my unelected vocation; which if I handle with more
good will than good reasons, bear with me, since the scholar is to be
pardoned that followeth the steps of his master.

And yet I must say, that as I have more just cause to make a pitiful
defence of poor poetry, which, from almost the highest estimation of
learning, is fallen to be the laughing-stock of children; so have I need
to bring some more available proofs, since the former is by no man barred
of his deserved credit, whereas the silly latter hath had even the names
of philosophers used to the defacing of it, with great danger of civil
war among the Muses. {2}

At first, truly, to all them that, professing learning, inveigh against
poetry, may justly be objected, that they go very near to ungratefulness
to seek to deface that which, in the noblest nations and languages that
are known, hath been the first light-giver to ignorance, and first nurse,
whose milk by little and little enabled them to feed afterwards of
tougher knowledges.  And will you play the hedgehog, that being received
into the den, drove out his host? {3} or rather the vipers, that with
their birth kill their parents? {4}

Let learned Greece, in any of her manifold sciences, be able to show me
one book before Musæus, Homer, and Hesiod, all three nothing else but
poets.  Nay, let any history he brought that can say any writers were
there before them, if they were not men of the same skill, as Orpheus,
Linus, and some others are named, who having been the first of that
country that made pens deliverers of their knowledge to posterity, may
justly challenge to be called their fathers in learning.  For not only in
time they had this priority (although in itself antiquity be venerable)
but went before them as causes to draw with their charming sweetness the
wild untamed wits to an admiration of knowledge.  So as Amphion was said
to move stones with his poetry to build Thebes, and Orpheus to be
listened to by beasts, indeed, stony and beastly people, so among the
Romans were Livius Andronicus, and Ennius; so in the Italian language,
the first that made it to aspire to be a treasure-house of science, were
the poets Dante, Boccace, and Petrarch; so in our English were Gower and
Chaucer; after whom, encouraged and delighted with their excellent
foregoing, others have followed to beautify our mother tongue, as well in
the same kind as other arts.

This {5} did so notably show itself that the philosophers of Greece durst
not a long time appear to the world but under the mask of poets; so
Thales, Empedocles, and Parmenides sang their natural philosophy in
verses; so did Pythagoras and Phocylides their moral counsels; so did
Tyrtæus in war matters; and Solon in matters of policy; or rather they,
being poets, did exercise their delightful vein in those points of
highest knowledge, which before them lay hidden to the world; for that
wise Solon was directly a poet it is manifest, having written in verse
the notable fable of the Atlantic Island, which was continued by Plato.
{6}  And, truly, even Plato, whosoever well considereth shall find that
in the body of his work, though the inside and strength were philosophy,
the skin, as it were, and beauty depended most of poetry.  For all stands
upon dialogues; wherein he feigns many honest burgesses of Athens
speaking of such matters that if they had been set on the rack they would
never have confessed them; besides, his poetical describing the
circumstances of their meetings, as the well-ordering of a banquet, the
delicacy of a walk, with interlacing mere tiles, as Gyges’s Ring, {7} and
others; which, who knows not to be flowers of poetry, did never walk into
Apollo’s garden.

And {8} even historiographers, although their lips sound of things done,
and verity be written in their foreheads, have been glad to borrow both
fashion and, perchance, weight of the poets; so Herodotus entitled the
books of his history by the names of the Nine Muses; and both he, and all
the rest that followed him, either stole or usurped, of poetry, their
passionate describing of passions, the many particularities of battles
which no man could affirm; or, if that be denied me, long orations, put
in the months of great kings and captains, which it is certain they never

So that, truly, neither philosopher nor historiographer could, at the
first, have entered into the gates of popular judgments, if they had not
taken a great disport of poetry; which in all nations, at this day, where
learning flourisheth not, is plain to be seen; in all which they have
some feeling of poetry.  In Turkey, besides their lawgiving divines they
have no other writers but poets.  In our neighbour-country Ireland,
where, too, learning goes very bare, yet are their poets held in a devout
reverence.  Even among the most barbarous and simple Indians, where no
writing is, yet have they their poets who make and sing songs, which they
call “Arentos,” both of their ancestor’s deeds and praises of their gods.
A sufficient probability, that if ever learning comes among them, it must
be by having their hard dull wits softened and sharpened with the sweet
delight of poetry; for until they find a pleasure in the exercise of the
mind, great promises of much knowledge will little persuade them that
know not the fruits of knowledge.  In Wales, the true remnant of the
ancient Britons, as there are good authorities to show the long time they
had poets, which they called bards, so through all the conquests of
Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans, some of whom did seek to ruin all
memory of learning from among them, yet do their poets, even to this day,
last; so as it is not more notable in the soon beginning than in

But since the authors of most of our sciences were the Romans, and before
them the Greeks, let us, a little, stand upon their authorities; but even
so far, as to see what names they have given unto this now scorned skill.
{9}  Among the Romans a poet was called “vates,” which is as much as a
diviner, foreseer, or prophet, as by his conjoined words “vaticinium,”
and “vaticinari,” is manifest; so heavenly a title did that excellent
people bestow upon this heart-ravishing knowledge!  And so far were they
carried into the admiration thereof, that they thought in the changeable
hitting upon any such verses, great foretokens of their following
fortunes were placed.  Whereupon grew the word of sortes Virgilianæ;
when, by sudden opening Virgil’s book, they lighted upon some verse, as
it is reported by many, whereof the histories of the Emperors’ lives are
full.  As of Albinus, the governor of our island, who, in his childhood,
met with this verse—

    Arma amens capio, nec sat rationis in armis

and in his age performed it.  Although it were a very vain and godless
superstition; as also it was, to think spirits were commanded by such
verses; whereupon this word charms, derived of “carmina,” cometh, so yet
serveth it to show the great reverence those wits were held in; and
altogether not without ground, since both the oracles of Delphi and the
Sibyl’s prophecies were wholly delivered in verses; for that same
exquisite observing of number and measure in the words, and that
high-flying liberty of conceit proper to the poet, did seem to have some
divine force in it.

And {10} may not I presume a little farther to show the reasonableness of
this word “vates,” and say, that the holy David’s Psalms are a divine
poem?  If I do, I shall not do it without the testimony of great learned
men, both ancient and modern.  But even the name of Psalms will speak for
me, which, being interpreted, is nothing but Songs; then, that is fully
written in metre, as all learned Hebricians agree, although the rules be
not yet fully found.  Lastly, and principally, his handling his prophecy,
which is merely poetical.  For what else is the awaking his musical
instruments; the often and free changing of persons; his notable
prosopopoeias, when he maketh you, as it were, see God coming in His
majesty; his telling of the beasts’ joyfulness, and hills leaping; but a
heavenly poesy, wherein, almost, he sheweth himself a passionate lover of
that unspeakable and everlasting beauty, to be seen by the eyes of the
mind, only cleared by faith?  But truly, now, having named him, I fear I
seem to profane that holy name, applying it to poetry, which is, among
us, thrown down to so ridiculous an estimation.  But they that, with
quiet judgments, will look a little deeper into it, shall find the end
and working of it such, as, being rightly applied, deserveth not to be
scourged out of the church of God.

But {11} now let us see how the Greeks have named it, and how they deemed
of it.  The Greeks named him ποιητὴν, which name hath, as the most
excellent, gone through other languages; it cometh of this word ποιεὶν,
which is _to make_; wherein, I know not whether by luck or wisdom, we
Englishmen have met with the Greeks in calling him “a maker,” which name,
how high and incomparable a title it is, I had rather were known by
marking the scope of other sciences, than by any partial allegation.
There is no art delivered unto mankind that hath not the works of nature
for his principal object, without which they could not consist, and on
which they so depend as they become actors and players, as it were, of
what nature will have set forth. {12}  So doth the astronomer look upon
the stars, and by that he seeth set down what order nature hath taken
therein.  So doth the geometrician and arithmetician, in their diverse
sorts of quantities.  So doth the musician, in times, tell you which by
nature agree, which not.  The natural philosopher thereon hath his name;
and the moral philosopher standeth upon the natural virtues, vices, or
passions of man; and follow nature, saith he, therein, and thou shalt not
err.  The lawyer saith what men have determined.  The historian, what men
have done.  The grammarian speaketh only of the rules of speech; and the
rhetorician and logician, considering what in nature will soonest prove
and persuade, thereon give artificial rules, which still are compassed
within the circle of a question, according to the proposed matter.  The
physician weigheth the nature of man’s body, and the nature of things
helpful and hurtful unto it.  And the metaphysic, though it be in the
second and abstract notions, and therefore be counted supernatural, yet
doth he, indeed, build upon the depth of nature.  Only the poet,
disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigour
of his own invention, doth grow, in effect, into another nature; in
making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or quite anew;
forms such as never were in nature, as the heroes, demi-gods, Cyclops,
chimeras, furies, and such like; so as he goeth hand in hand with Nature,
not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging
within the zodiac of his own wit. {13}   Nature never set forth the earth
in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done; neither with so pleasant
rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may
make the too-much-loved earth more lovely; her world is brazen, the poets
only deliver a golden.

But let those things alone, and go to man; {14} for whom as the other
things are, so it seemeth in him her uttermost cunning is employed; and
know, whether she have brought forth so true a lover as Theagenes; so
constant a friend as Pylades; so valiant a man as Orlando; so right a
prince as Xenophon’s Cyrus; and so excellent a man every way as Virgil’s
Æneas?  Neither let this be jestingly conceived, because the works of the
one be essential, the other in imitation or fiction; for every
understanding knoweth the skill of each artificer standeth in that idea,
or fore-conceit of the work, and not in the work itself.  And that the
poet hath that idea is manifest by delivering them forth in such
excellency as he had imagined them; which delivering forth, also, is not
wholly imaginative, as we are wont to say by them that build castles in
the air; but so far substantially it worketh not only to make a Cyrus,
which had been but a particular excellency, as nature might have done;
but to bestow a Cyrus upon the world to make many Cyruses; if they will
learn aright, why, and how, that maker made him.  Neither let it be
deemed too saucy a comparison to balance the highest point of man’s wit
with the efficacy of nature; but rather give right honour to the heavenly
Maker of that maker, who having made man to His own likeness, set him
beyond and over all the works of that second nature; which in nothing he
showeth so much as in poetry; when, with the force of a divine breath, he
bringeth things forth surpassing her doings, with no small arguments to
the incredulous of that first accursed fall of Adam; since our erected
wit maketh us know what perfection is, and yet our infected will keepeth
us from reaching unto it.  But these arguments will by few be understood,
and by fewer granted; thus much I hope will be given me, that the Greeks,
with some probability of reason, gave him the name above all names of

Now {15} let us go to a more ordinary opening of him, that the truth may
be the more palpable; and so, I hope, though we get not so unmatched a
praise as the etymology of his names will grant, yet his very
description, which no man will deny, shall not justly be barred from a
principal commendation.

Poesy, {16} therefore, is an art of imitation; for so Aristotle termeth
it in the word μίμησις; that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting,
or figuring forth: to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture, with this
end, to teach and delight.

Of {17} this have been three general kinds: the _chief_, both in
antiquity and excellency, which they that did imitate the inconceivable
excellencies of God; such were David in the Psalms; Solomon in the Song
of Songs, in his Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs; Moses and Deborah in their
hymns; and the writer of Job; which, beside others, the learned Emanuel
Tremellius and Fr. Junius do entitle the poetical part of the scripture;
against these none will speak that hath the Holy Ghost in due holy
reverence.  In this kind, though in a wrong divinity, were Orpheus,
Amphion, Homer in his hymns, and many others, both Greeks and Romans.
And this poesy must be used by whosoever will follow St. Paul’s counsel,
in singing psalms when they are merry; and I know is used with the fruit
of comfort by some, when, in sorrowful pangs of their death-bringing
sins, they find the consolation of the never-leaving goodness.

The {18} _second_ kind is of them that deal with matter philosophical;
either moral, as Tyrtæus, Phocylides, Cato, or, natural, as Lucretius,
Virgil’s Georgics; or astronomical, as Manilius {19} and Pontanus; or
historical, as Lucan; which who mislike, the fault is in their judgment,
quite out of taste, and not in the sweet food of sweetly uttered

But because this second sort is wrapped within the fold of the proposed
subject, and takes not the free course of his own invention; whether they
properly be poets or no, let grammarians dispute, and go to the _third_,
{20} indeed right poets, of whom chiefly this question ariseth; betwixt
whom and these second is such a kind of difference, as betwixt the meaner
sort of painters, who counterfeit only such faces as are set before them;
and the more excellent, who having no law but wit, bestow that in colours
upon you which is fittest for the eye to see; as the constant, though
lamenting look of Lucretia, when she punished in herself another’s fault;
wherein he painteth not Lucretia, whom he never saw, but painteth the
outward beauty of such a virtue.  For these three be they which most
properly do imitate to teach and delight; and to imitate, borrow nothing
of what is, hath been, or shall be; but range only, reined with learned
discretion, into the divine consideration of what may be, and should be.
These be they, that, as the first and most noble sort, may justly be
termed “vates;” so these are waited on in the excellentest languages and
best understandings, with the fore-described name of poets.  For these,
indeed, do merely make to imitate, and imitate both to delight and teach,
and delight to move men to take that goodness in hand, which, without
delight they would fly as from a stranger; and teach to make them know
that goodness whereunto they are moved; which being the noblest scope to
which ever any learning was directed, yet want there not idle tongues to
bark at them.

These {21} be subdivided into sundry more special denominations; the most
notable be the heroic, lyric, tragic, comic, satyric, iambic, elegiac,
pastoral, and certain others; some of these being termed according to the
matter they deal with; some by the sort of verse they like best to write
in; for, indeed, the greatest part of poets have apparelled their
poetical inventions in that numerous kind of writing which is called
verse.  Indeed, but apparelied verse, being but an ornament, and no cause
to poetry, since there have been many most excellent poets that never
versified, and now swarm many versifiers that need never answer to the
name of poets. {22}  For Xenophon, who did imitate so excellently as to
give us _effigiem justi imperii_, the portraiture of a just of Cyrus, as
Cicero saith of him, made therein an absolute heroical poem.  So did
Heliodorus, {23} in his sugared invention of Theagenes and Chariclea; and
yet both these wrote in prose; which I speak to show, that it is not
rhyming and versing that maketh a poet (no more than a long gown maketh
an advocate, who, though he pleaded in armour should be an advocate and
no soldier); but it is that feigning notable images of virtues, vices, or
what else, with that delightful teaching, which must be the right
describing note to know a poet by.  Although, indeed, the senate of poets
have chosen verse as their fittest raiment; meaning, as in matter they
passed all in all, so in manner to go beyond them; not speaking
table-talk fashion, or like men in a dream, words as they changeably fall
from the mouth, but piecing each syllable of each word by just
proportion, according to the dignity of the subject.

Now, {24} therefore, it shall not be amiss, first, to weight this latter
sort of poetry by his _works_, and then by his _parts_; and if in neither
of these anatomies he be commendable, I hope we shall receive a more
favourable sentence.  This purifying of wit, this enriching of memory,
enabling of judgment, and enlarging of conceit, which commonly we call
learning under what name soever it come forth, or to what immediate end
soever it be directed; the final end is, to lead and draw us to as high a
perfection as our degenerate souls, made worse by, their clay lodgings,
{25} can be capable of.  This, according to the inclination of man, bred
many formed impressions; for some that thought this felicity principally
to be gotten by knowledge, and no knowledge to be so high or heavenly as
to be acquainted with the stars, gave themselves to astronomy; others,
persuading themselves to be demi-gods, if they knew the causes of things,
became natural and supernatural philosophers.  Some an admirable delight
drew to music, and some the certainty of demonstrations to the
mathematics; but all, one and other, having this scope to know, and by
knowledge to lift up the mind from the dungeon of the body to the
enjoying his own divine essence.  But when, by the balance of experience,
it was found that the astronomer, looking to the stars, might fall in a
ditch; that the enquiring philosopher might be blind in himself; and the
mathematician might draw forth a straight line with a crooked heart; then
lo! did proof, the over-ruler of opinions, make manifest that all these
are but serving sciences, which, as they have a private end in
themselves, so yet are they all directed to the highest end of the
mistress knowledge, by the Greeks called ἀρχιτεκτονικὴ, which stands, as
I think, in the knowledge of a man’s self; in the ethic and politic
consideration, with the end of well doing, and not of well knowing only;
even as the saddler’s next end is to make a good saddle, but his farther
end to serve a nobler faculty, which is horsemanship; so the horseman’s
to soldiery; and the soldier not only to have the skill, but to perform
the practice of a soldier.  So that the ending end of all earthly
learning being virtuous action, those skills that most serve to bring
forth that have a most just title to be princes over all the rest;
wherein, if we can show it rightly, the poet is worthy to have it before
any other competitors. {26}

Among {27} whom principally to challenge it, step forth the moral
philosophers; whom, methinks, I see coming toward me with a sullen
gravity (as though they could not abide vice by daylight), rudely
clothed, for to witness outwardly their contempt of outward things, with
books in their hands against glory, whereto they set their names;
sophistically speaking against subtlety, and angry with any man in whom
they see the foul fault of anger.  These men, casting largesses as they
go, of definitions, divisions, and distinctions, with a scornful
interrogative do soberly ask: Whether it be possible to find any path so
ready to lead a man to virtue, as that which teacheth what virtue is; and
teacheth it not only by delivering forth his very being, his causes and
effects; but also by making known his enemy, vice, which must be
destroyed; and his cumbersome servant, passion, which must be mastered,
by showing the generalities that contain it, and the specialities that
are derived from it; lastly, by plain setting down how it extends itself
out of the limits of a man’s own little world, to the government of
families, and maintaining of public societies?

The historian {28} scarcely gives leisure to the moralist to say so much,
but that he (laden with old mouse-eaten records, authórizing {29}
himself, for the most part, upon other histories, whose greatest
authorities are built upon the notable foundation of hearsay, having much
ado to accord differing writers, and to pick truth out of partiality;
better acquainted with a thousand years ago than with the present age,
and yet better knowing how this world goes than how his own wit runs;
curious for antiquities, and inquisitive of novelties, a wonder to young
folks, and a tyrant in table-talk) denieth, in a great chafe, that any
man for teaching of virtue and virtuous actions, is comparable to him.  I
am “Testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriæ, magistra vitæ, nuncia
vetustatis.” {30}  The philosopher, saith he, teacheth a disputative
virtue, but I do an active; his virtue is excellent in the dangerless
academy of Plato, but mine showeth forth her honourable face in the
battles of Marathon, Pharsalia, Poictiers, and Agincourt: he teacheth
virtue by certain abstract considerations; but I only bid you follow the
footing of them that have gone before you: old-aged experience goeth
beyond the fine-witted philosopher; but I give the experience of many
ages.  Lastly, if he make the song book, I put the learner’s hand to the
lute; and if he be the guide, I am the light.  Then would he allege you
innumerable examples, confirming story by stories, how much the wisest
senators and princes have been directed by the credit of history, as
Brutus, Alphonsus of Aragon (and who not? if need be).  At length, the
long line of their disputation makes a point in this, that the one giveth
the precept, and the other the example.

Now {31} whom shall we find, since the question standeth for the highest
form in the school of learning, to be moderator?  Truly, as me seemeth,
the poet; and if not a moderator, even the man that ought to carry the
title from them both, and much more from all other serving sciences.
Therefore compare we the poet with the historian, and with the moral
philosopher; and if he go beyond them both, no other human skill can
match him; for as for the Divine, with all reverence, he is ever to be
excepted, not only for having his scope as far beyond any of these, as
eternity exceedeth a moment, but even for passing each of these in
themselves; and for the lawyer, though “Jus” be the daughter of Justice,
the chief of virtues, yet because he seeks to make men good rather
“formidine pœnæ” than “virtutis amore,” or, to say righter, doth not
endeavour to make men good, but that their evil hurt not others, having
no care, so he be a good citizen, how bad a man he be: therefore, as our
wickedness maketh him necessary, and necessity maketh him honourable, so
is he not in the deepest truth to stand in rank with these, who all
endeavour to take naughtiness away, and plant goodness even in the
secretest cabinet of our souls.  And these four are all that any way deal
in the consideration of men’s manners, which being the supreme knowledge,
they that best breed it deserve the best commendation.

The philosopher, therefore, and the historian are they which would win
the goal, the one by precept, the other by example; but both, not having
both, do both halt.  For the philosopher, setting down with thorny
arguments the bare rule, is so hard of utterance, and so misty to be
conceived, that one that hath no other guide but him shall wade in him
until he be old, before he shall find sufficient cause to be honest.  For
his knowledge standeth so upon the abstract and general, that happy is
that man who may understand him, and more happy that can apply what he
doth understand.  On the other side the historian, wanting the precept,
is so tied, not to what should be, but to what is; to the particular
truth of things, and not to the general reason of things; that his
example draweth no necessary consequence, and therefore a less fruitful

Now {32} doth the peerless poet perform both; for whatsoever the
philosopher saith should be done, he giveth a perfect picture of it, by
some one by whom he pre-supposeth it was done, so as he coupleth the
general notion with the particular example.  A perfect picture, I say;
for he yieldeth to the powers of the mind an image of that whereof the
philosopher bestoweth but a wordish description, which doth neither
strike, pierce, nor possess the sight of the soul, so much as that other
doth.  For as, in outward things, to a man that had never seen an
elephant, or a rhinoceros, who should tell him most exquisitely all their
shape, colour, bigness, and particular marks? or of a gorgeous palace, an
architect, who, declaring the full beauties, might well make the hearer
able to repeat, as it were, by rote, all he had heard, yet should never
satisfy his inward conceit, with being witness to itself of a true living
knowledge; but the same man, as soon as he might see those beasts well
painted, or that house well in model, should straightway grow, without
need of any description, to a judicial comprehending of them; so, no
doubt, the philosopher, with his learned definitions, be it of virtue or
vices, matters of public policy or private government, replenisheth the
memory with many infallible grounds of wisdom, which, notwithstanding,
lie dark before the imaginative and judging power, if they be not
illuminated or figured forth by the speaking picture of poesy.

Tully taketh much pains, and many times not without poetical help, to
make us know the force love of our country hath in us.  Let us but hear
old Anchises, speaking in the midst of Troy’s flames, or see Ulysses, in
the fulness of all Calypso’s delights, bewail his absence from barren and
beggarly Ithaca.  Anger, the Stoics said, was a short madness; let but
Sophocles bring you Ajax on a stage, killing or whipping sheep and oxen,
thinking them the army of Greeks, with their chieftains Agamemnon and
Menelaus; and tell me, if you have not a more familiar insight into
anger, than finding in the schoolmen his genus and difference?  See
whether wisdom and temperance in Ulysses and Diomedes, valour in
Achilles, friendship in Nisus and Euryalus, even to an ignorant man,
carry not an apparent shining; and, contrarily, the remorse of conscience
in Œdipus; the soon-repenting pride in Agamemnon; the self-devouring
cruelty in his father Atreus; the violence of ambition in the two Theban
brothers; the sour sweetness of revenge in Medea; and, to fall lower, the
Terentian Gnatho, and our Chaucer’s Pandar, so expressed, that we now use
their names to signify their trades; and finally, all virtues, vices, and
passions so in their own natural states laid to the view, that we seem
not to hear of them, but clearly to see through them?

But even in the most excellent determination of goodness, what
philosopher’s counsel can so readily direct a prince as the feigned Cyrus
in Xenophon?  Or a virtuous man in all fortunes, as Æneas in Virgil?  Or
a whole commonwealth, as the way of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia?  I say the
way, because where Sir Thomas More erred, it was the fault of the man,
and not of the poet; for that way of patterning a commonwealth was most
absolute, though he, perchance, hath not so absolutely performed it.  For
the question is, whether the feigned image of poetry, or the regular
instruction of philosophy, hath the more force in teaching.  Wherein, if
the philosophers have more rightly showed themselves philosophers, than
the poets have attained to the high top of their profession, (as in

                “Mediocribus esse poëtis
    Non Dî, non homines, non concessere columnæ,” {33})

it is, I say again, not the fault of the art, but that by few men that
art can be accomplished.  Certainly, even our Saviour Christ could as
well have given the moral common-places {34} of uncharitableness and
humbleness, as the divine narration of Dives and Lazarus; or of
disobedience and mercy, as the heavenly discourse of the lost child and
the gracious father; but that his thorough searching wisdom knew the
estate of Dives burning in hell, and of Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, would
more constantly, as it were, inhabit both the memory and judgment.
Truly, for myself (me seems), I see before mine eyes the lost child’s
disdainful prodigality turned to envy a swine’s dinner; which, by the
learned divines, are thought not historical acts, but instructing

For conclusion, I say the philosopher teacheth, but he teacheth
obscurely, so as the learned only can understand him; that is to say, he
teacheth them that are already taught.  But the poet is the food for the
tenderest stomachs; the poet is, indeed, the right popular philosopher.
Whereof Æsop’s tales give good proof; whose pretty allegories, stealing
under the formal tales of beasts, make many, more beastly than beasts,
begin to hear the sound of virtue from those dumb speakers.

But now may it be alleged, that if this managing of matters be so fit for
the imagination, then must the historian needs surpass, who brings you
images of true matters, such as, indeed, were done, and not such as
fantastically or falsely may be suggested to have been done.  Truly,
Aristotle himself, in his Discourse of Poesy, plainly determineth this
question, saying, that poetry is φιλοσοφώτερον καὶ πσουδαιότεοον, that is
to say, it is more philosophical and more ingenious than history.  His
reason is, because poesy dealeth with καθολου, that is to say, with the
universal consideration, and the history καθ ἔκαστον, the particular.
“Now,” saith he, “the universal weighs what is fit to be said or done,
either in likelihood or necessity; which the poesy considereth in his
imposed names; and the particular only marks, whether Alcibiades did, or
suffered, this or that:” thus far Aristotle. {35}  Which reason of his,
as all his, is most full of reason.  For, indeed, if the question were,
whether it were better to have a particular act truly or falsely set
down? there is no doubt which is to be chosen, no more than whether you
had rather have Vespasian’s picture right as he was, or, at the painter’s
pleasure, nothing resembling?  But if the question be, for your own use
and learning, whether it be better to have it set down as it should be,
or as it was? then, certainly, is more doctrinable the feigned Cyrus in
Xenophon, than the true Cyrus in Justin; {36} and the feigned Æneas in
Virgil, than the right Æneas in Dares Phrygius; {37} as to a lady that
desired to fashion her countenance to the best grace, a painter should
more benefit her, to portrait a most sweet face, writing Canidia upon it,
than to paint Canidia as she was, who, Horace sweareth, was full
ill-favoured.  If the poet do his part aright, he will show you in
Tantalus, Atreus, and such like, nothing that is not to be shunned; in
Cyrus, Æneas, Ulysses, each thing to be followed; where the historian,
bound to tell things as things were, cannot be liberal, without he will
be poetical, of a perfect pattern; but, as in Alexander, or Scipio
himself, show doings, some to be liked, some to be misliked; and then how
will you discern what to follow, but by your own discretion, which you
had, without reading Q. Curtius? {38}  And whereas, a man may say, though
in universal consideration of doctrine, the poet prevaileth, yet that the
history, in his saying such a thing was done, doth warrant a man more in
that he shall follow; the answer is manifest: that if he stand upon that
_was_, as if he should argue, because it rained yesterday therefore it
should rain to-day; then, indeed, hath it some advantage to a gross
conceit.  But if he know an example only enforms a conjectured
likelihood, and so go by reason, the poet doth so far exceed him, as he
is to frame his example to that which is most reasonable, be it in
warlike, politic, or private matters; where the historian in his bare
_was_ hath many times that which we call fortune to overrule the best
wisdom.  Many times he must tell events whereof he can yield no cause; or
if he do, it must be poetically.

For, that a feigned example bath as much force to teach as a true example
(for as for to move, it is clear, since the feigned may be tuned to the
highest key of passion), let us take one example wherein an historian and
a poet did concur.  Herodotus and Justin do both testify, that Zopyrus,
King Darius’s faithful servant, seeing his master long resisted by the
rebellious Babylonians, feigned himself in extreme disgrace of his King;
for verifying of which he caused his own nose and ears to be cut off, and
so flying to the Babylonians, was received; and, for his known valour, so
far credited, that he did find means to deliver them over to Darius.
Much-like matters doth Livy record of Tarquinius and his son.  Xenophon
excellently feigned such another stratagem, performed by Abradatus in
Cyrus’s behalf.  Now would I fain know, if occasion be presented unto you
to serve your prince by such an honest dissimulation, why do you not as
well learn it of Xenophon’s fiction as of the other’s verity? and, truly,
so much the better, as you shall save your nose by the bargain; for
Abradatus did not counterfeit so far.  So, then, the best of the
historians is subject to the poet; for, whatsoever action or faction,
whatsoever counsel, policy, or war stratagem the historian is bound to
recite, that may the poet, if he list, with his imitation, make his own,
beautifying it both for farther teaching, and more delighting, as it
please him: having all, from Dante’s heaven to his hell, under the
authority of his pen.  Which if I be asked, What poets have done so? as I
might well name some, so yet, say I, and say again, I speak of the art,
and not of the artificer.

Now, to that which commonly is attributed to the praise of history, in
respect of the notable learning which is got by marking the success, as
though therein a man should see virtue exalted, and vice punished: truly,
that commendation is peculiar to poetry, and far off from history; for,
indeed, poetry ever sets virtue so out in her best colours, making
fortune her well-waiting handmaid, that one must needs be enamoured of
her.  Well may you see Ulysses in a storm, and in other hard plights; but
they are but exercises of patience and magnanimity, to make them shine
the more in the near following prosperity.  And, on the contrary part, if
evil men come to the stage, they ever go out (as the tragedy writer
answered to one that misliked the show of such persons) so manacled, as
they little animate folks to follow them.  But history being captive to
the truth of a foolish world, in many times a terror from well-doing, and
an encouragement to unbridled wickedness.  For see we not valiant
Miltiades rot in his fetters? the just Phocion and the accomplished
Socrates put to death like traitors? the cruel Severus live prosperously?
the excellent Severus miserably murdered?  Sylla and Marius dying in
their beds?  Pompey and Cicero slain then when they would have thought
exile a happiness?  See we not virtuous Cato driven to kill himself, and
rebel Cæsar so advanced, that his name yet, after sixteen hundred years,
lasteth in the highest honour?  And mark but even Cæsar’s own words of
the forenamed Sylla, (who in that only did honestly, to put down his
dishonest tyranny), “literas nescivit:” as if want of learning caused him
to do well.  He meant it not by poetry, which, not content with earthly
plagues, deviseth new punishment in hell for tyrants: nor yet by
philosophy, which teacheth “occidentes esse:” but, no doubt, by skill in
history; for that, indeed, can afford you Cypselus, Periander, Phalaris,
Dionysius, and I know not how many more of the same kennel, that speed
well enough in their abominable injustice of usurpation.

I conclude, therefore, that he excelleth history, not only in furnishing
the mind with knowledge, but in setting it forward to that which deserves
to be called and accounted good: which setting forward, and moving to
well-doing, indeed, setteth the laurel crowns upon the poets as
victorious; not only of the historian, but over the philosopher,
howsoever, in teaching, it may be questionable.  For suppose it be
granted, that which I suppose, with great reason, may be denied, that the
philosopher, in respect of his methodical proceeding, teach more
perfectly than the poet, yet do I think, that no man is so much
φιλοφιλόσοφος, as to compare the philosopher in moving with the poet.
And that moving is of a higher degree than teaching, it may by this
appear, that it is well nigh both the cause and effect of teaching; for
who will be taught, if he be not moved with desire to be taught?  And
what so much good doth that teaching bring forth (I speak still of moral
doctrine) as that it moveth one to do that which it doth teach.  For, as
Aristotle saith, it is not γνῶσις but πράξις {39} must be the fruit: and
how πράξις can be, without being moved to practise, it is no hard matter
to consider.  The philosopher showeth you the way, he informeth you of
the particularities, as well of the tediousness of the way and of the
pleasant lodging you shall have when your journey is ended, as of the
many by-turnings that may divert you from your way; but this is to no
man, but to him that will read him, and read him with attentive, studious
painfulness; which constant desire whosoever hath in him, hath already
passed half the hardness of the way, and therefore is beholden to the
philosopher but for the other half.  Nay, truly, learned men have
learnedly thought, that where once reason hath so much over-mastered
passion, as that the mind hath a free desire to do well, the inward light
each mind hath in itself is as good as a philosopher’s book: since in
nature we know it is well to do well, and what is well and what is evil,
although not in the words of art which philosophers bestow upon us; for
out of natural conceit the philosophers drew it; but to be moved to do
that which we know, or to be moved with desire to know, “hoc opus, hic
labor est.”

Now, {40} therein, of all sciences (I speak still of human and according
to the human conceit), is our poet the monarch.  For he doth not only
show the way, but giveth so sweet a prospect into the way, as will entice
any man to enter into it; nay, he doth, as if your journey should lie
through a fair vineyard, at the very first give you a cluster of grapes,
that full of that taste you may long to pass farther.  He beginneth not
with obscure definitions, which must blur the margin with
interpretations, and load the memory with doubtfulness, but he cometh to
you with words set in delightful proportion, either accompanied with, or
prepared for, the well-enchanting skill of music; and with a tale,
forsooth, he cometh unto you with a tale which holdeth children from
play, and old men from the chimney-corner; {41} and, pretending no more,
doth intend the winning of the mind from wickedness to virtue; even as
the child is often brought to take most wholesome things, by hiding them
in such other as have a pleasant taste; which, if one should begin to
tell them the nature of the aloes or rhubarbarum they should receive,
would sooner take their physic at their ears than at their mouth; so it
is in men (most of them are childish in the best things, till they be
cradled in their graves); glad they will be to hear the tales of
Hercules, Achilles, Cyrus, Æneas; and hearing them, must needs hear the
right description of wisdom, valour, and justice; which, if they had been
barely (that is to say, philosophically) set out, they would swear they
be brought to school again.  That imitation whereof poetry is, hath the
most conveniency to nature of all other; insomuch that, as Aristotle
saith, those things which in themselves are horrible, as cruel battles,
unnatural monsters, are made, in poetical imitation, delightful.  Truly,
I have known men, that even with reading Amadis de Gaule, which, God
knoweth, wanteth much of a perfect poesy, have found their hearts moved
to the exercise of courtesy, liberality, and especially courage.  Who
readeth Æneas carrying old Anchises on his back, that wisheth not it were
his fortune to perform so excellent an act?  Whom doth not those words of
Turnus move (the tale of Turnus having planted his image in the

          “—fugientem hæc terra videbit?
    Usque adeone mori miserum est?” {42}

Where the philosophers (as they think) scorn to delight, so much they be
content little to move, saving wrangling whether “virtus” be the chief or
the only good; whether the contemplative or the active life do excel;
which Plato and Boetius well knew; and therefore made mistress Philosophy
very often borrow the masking raiment of poesy.  For even those
hard-hearted evil men, who think virtue a school-name, and know no other
good but “indulgere genio,” and therefore despise the austere admonitions
of the philosopher, and feel not the inward reason they stand upon; yet
will be content to be delighted, which is all the good-fellow poet seems
to promise; and so steal to see the form of goodness, which seen, they
cannot but love, ere themselves be aware, as if they took a medicine of

Infinite {43} proofs of the strange effects of this poetical invention
might be alleged; only two shall serve, which are so often remembered,
as, I think, all men know them.  The one of Menenius Agrippa, who, when
the whole people of Rome had resolutely divided themselves from the
senate, with apparent show of utter ruin, though he were, for that time,
an excellent orator, came not among them upon trust, either of figurative
speeches, or cunning insinuations, and much less with far-fetched maxims
of philosophy, which, especially if they were Platonic, they must have
learned geometry before they could have conceived; but, forsooth, he
behaveth himself like a homely and familiar poet.  He telleth them a
tale, that there was a time when all the parts of the body made a
mutinous conspiracy against the belly, which they thought devoured the
fruits of each other’s labour; they concluded they would let so
unprofitable a spender starve.  In the end, to be short (for the tale is
notorious, and as notorious that it was a tale), with punishing the belly
they plagued themselves.  This, applied by him, wrought such effect in
the people as I never read that only words brought forth; but then so
sudden, and so good an alteration, for upon reasonable conditions a
perfect reconcilement ensued.

The other is of Nathan the prophet, who, when the holy David had so far
forsaken God, as to confirm adultery with murder, when he was to do the
tenderest office of a friend, in laying his own shame before his eyes,
being sent by God to call again so chosen a servant, how doth he it? but
by telling of a man whose beloved lamb was ungratefully taken from his
bosom.  The application most divinely true, but the discourse itself
feigned; which made David (I speak of the second and instrumental cause)
as in a glass see his own filthiness, as that heavenly psalm of mercy
well testifieth.

By these, therefore, examples and reasons, I think it may be manifest
that the poet, with that same hand of delight, doth draw the mind more
effectually than any other art doth.  And so a conclusion not unfitly
ensues; that as virtue is the most excellent resting-place for all
worldly learning to make his end of, so poetry, being the most familiar
to teach it, and most princely to move towards it, in the most excellent
work is the most excellent workman.

But I am content not only to decipher him by his works (although works in
commendation and dispraise must ever hold a high authority), but more
narrowly will examine his parts; so that (as in a man) though all
together may carry a presence full of majesty and beauty perchance in
some one defectious {44} piece we may find blemish.

Now, {45} in his parts, kinds, or species, as you list to term them, it
is to be noted that some poesies have coupled together two or three
kinds; as the tragical and comical, whereupon is risen the tragi-comical;
some, in the manner, have mingled prose and verse, as Sannazaro and
Boetius; some have mingled matters heroical and pastoral; but that cometh
all to one in this question; for, if severed they be good, the
conjunction cannot be hurtful.  Therefore, perchance, forgetting some,
and leaving some as needless to be remembered, it shall not be amiss, in
a word, to cite the special kinds, to see what faults may be found in the
right use of them.

Is it, then, the pastoral poem which is misliked? {46}  For, perchance,
where the hedge is lowest, they will soonest leap over.  Is the poor pipe
disdained, which sometimes, out of Melibæus’s mouth, can show the misery
of people under hard lords and ravening soldiers?  And again, by Tityrus,
what blessedness is derived to them that lie lowest from the goodness of
them that sit highest?  Sometimes under the pretty tales of wolves and
sheep, can include the whole considerations of wrong doing and patience;
sometimes show, that contentions for trifles can get but a trifling
victory; where, perchance, a man may see that even Alexander and Darius,
when they strove who should be cock of this world’s dunghill, the benefit
they got was, that the after-livers may say,

    “Hæc memini, et victum frustra contendere Thyrsim.
    Ex illo Corydon, Corydon est tempore nobis.” {47}

Or is it the lamenting elegiac, {48} which, in a kind heart, would move
rather pity than blame; who bewaileth, with the great philosopher
Heraclitus, the weakness of mankind, and the wretchedness of the world;
who, surely, is to be praised, either for compassionately accompanying
just causes of lamentations, or for rightly pointing out how weak be the
passions of wofulness?

Is it the bitter, but wholesome iambic, {49} who rubs the galled mind,
making shame the trumpet of villany, with bold and open crying out
against naughtiness?

Or the satiric? who,

    “Omne vafer vitium ridenti tangit amico;” {50}

who sportingly never leaveth, until he make a man laugh at folly, and, at
length, ashamed to laugh at himself, which he cannot avoid without
avoiding the folly; who, while “circum præcordia ludit,” giveth us to
feel how many headaches a passionate life bringeth us to; who when all is

    “Est Ulubris, animus si nos non deficit æquus.” {51}

No, perchance, it is the comic; {52} whom naughty play-makers and
stage-keepers have justly made odious.  To the arguments of abuse I will
after answer; only thus much now is to be said, that the comedy is an
imitation of the common errors of our life, which he representeth in the
most ridiculous and scornful sort that may be; so as it is impossible
that any beholder can be content to be such a one.  Now, as in geometry,
the oblique must be known as well as the right, and in arithmetic, the
odd as well as the even; so in the actions of our life, who seeth not the
filthiness of evil, wanteth a great foil to perceive the beauty of
virtue.  This doth the comedy handle so, in our private and domestical
matters, as, with hearing it, we get, as it were, an experience of what
is to be looked for, of a niggardly Demea, of a crafty Davus, of a
flattering Gnatho, of a vain-glorious Thraso; and not only to know what
effects are to be expected, but to know who be such, by the signifying
badge given them by the comedian.  And little reason hath any man to say,
that men learn the evil by seeing it so set out; since, as I said before,
there is no man living, but by the force truth hath in nature, no sooner
seeth these men play their parts, but wisheth them in “pistrinum;” {53}
although, perchance, the sack of his own faults lie so behind his back,
that he seeth not himself to dance in the same measure, whereto yet
nothing can more open his eyes than to see his own actions contemptibly
set forth; so that the right use of comedy will, I think, by nobody be

And much less of the high and excellent tragedy, {54} that openeth the
greatest wounds, and showeth forth the ulcers that are covered with
tissue; that maketh kings fear to be tyrants, and tyrants to manifest
their tyrannical humours; that with stirring the effects of admiration
and commiseration, teacheth the uncertainty of this world, and upon how
weak foundations gilded roofs are builded; that maketh us know, “qui
sceptra sævus duro imperio regit, timet timentes, metus in authorem
redit.”  But how much it can move, Plutarch yielded a notable testimony
of the abominable tyrant Alexander Pheræus; from whose eyes a tragedy,
well made and represented, drew abundance of tears, who without all pity
had murdered infinite numbers, and some of his own blood; so as he that
was not ashamed to make matters for tragedies, yet could not resist the
sweet violence of a tragedy.  And if it wrought no farther good in him,
it was that he, in despite of himself, withdrew himself from hearkening
to that which might mollify his hardened heart.  But it is not the
tragedy they do dislike, for it were too absurd to cast out so excellent
a representation of whatsoever is most worthy to be learned.

Is it the lyric that most displeaseth, who with his tuned lyre and
well-accorded voice, giveth praise, the reward of virtue, to virtuous
acts? who giveth moral precepts and natural problems? who sometimes
raiseth up his voice to the height of the heavens, in singing the lauds
of the immortal God?  Certainly, I must confess mine own barbarousness; I
never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas, that I found not my heart
moved more than with a trumpet; {55} and yet it is sung but by some blind
crowder, with no rougher voice than rude style; which being so evil
apparelled in the dust and cobweb of that uncivil age, what would it
work, trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar?  In Hungary I have
seen it the manner at all feasts, and all other such-like meetings, to
have songs of their ancestors’ valour, which that right soldier-like
nation think one of the chiefest kindlers of brave courage.  The
incomparable Lacedæmonians did not only carry that kind of music ever
with them to the field, but even at home, as such songs were made, so
were they all content to be singers of them; when the lusty men were to
tell what they did, the old men what they had done, and the young what
they would do.  And where a man may say that Pindar many times praiseth
highly victories of small moment, rather matters of sport than virtue; as
it may be answered, it was the fault of the poet, and not of the poetry,
so, indeed, the chief fault was in the time and custom of the Greeks, who
set those toys at so high a price, that Philip of Macedon reckoned a
horse-race won at Olympus among three fearful felicities.  But as the
inimitable Pindar often did, so is that kind most capable, and most fit,
to awake the thoughts from the sleep of idleness, to embrace honourable

There rests the heroical, {56} whose very name, I think, should daunt all
backbiters.  For by what conceit can a tongue be directed to speak evil
of that which draweth with him no less champions than Achilles, Cyrus,
Æneas, Turus, Tydeus, Rinaldo? who doth not only teach and move to truth,
but teacheth and moveth to the most high and excellent truth: who maketh
magnanimity and justice shine through all misty fearfulness and foggy
desires? who, if the saying of Plato and Tully be true, that who could
see virtue, would be wonderfully ravished with the love of her beauty;
this man setteth her out to make her more lovely, in her holiday apparel,
to the eye of any that will deign not to disdain until they understand.
But if any thing be already said in the defence of sweet poetry, all
concurreth to the maintaining the heroical, which is not only a kind, but
the best and most accomplished kind, of poetry.  For, as the image of
each action stirreth and instructeth the mind, so the lofty image of such
worthies most inflameth the mind with desire to be worthy, and informs
with counsel how to be worthy.  Only let Æneas be worn in the tablet of
your memory, how he governeth himself in the ruin of his country; in the
preserving his old father, and carrying away his religious ceremonies; in
obeying God’s commandments, to leave Dido, though not only passionate
kindness, but even the human consideration of virtuous gratefulness,
would have craved other of him; how in storms, how in sports, how in war,
how in peace, how a fugitive, how victorious, how besieged, how
besieging, how to strangers, how to allies, how to enemies; how to his
own, lastly, how in his inward self, and how in his outward government;
and I think, in a mind most prejudiced with a prejudicating humour, he
will be found in excellency fruitful.  Yea, as Horace saith, “Melius
Chrysippo et Crantore:” {57} but, truly, I imagine it falleth out with
these poet-whippers as with some good women who often are sick, but in
faith they cannot tell where.  So the name of poetry is odious to them,
but neither his cause nor effects, neither the sum that contains him, nor
the particularities descending from him, give any fast handle to their
carping dispraise.

Since, then, {58} poetry is of all human learnings the most ancient, and
of most fatherly antiquity, as from whence other learnings have taken
their beginnings; since it is so universal that no learned nation doth
despise it, nor barbarous nation is without it; since both Roman and
Greek gave such divine names unto it, the one of prophesying, the other
of making, and that indeed that name of making is fit for him,
considering, that where all other arts retain themselves within their
subject, and receive, as it were, their being from it, the poet only,
only bringeth his own stuff, and doth not learn a conceit out of a
matter, but maketh matter for a conceit; since neither his description
nor end containeth any evil, the thing described cannot be evil; since
his effects be so good as to teach goodness, and delight the learners of
it; since therein (namely, in moral doctrine, the chief of all
knowledges) he doth not only far pass the historian, but, for
instructing, is well nigh comparable to the philosopher; for moving,
leaveth him behind him; since the Holy Scripture (wherein there is no
uncleanness) hath whole parts in it poetical, and that even our Saviour
Christ vouchsafed to use the flowers of it; since all his kinds are not
only in their united forms, but in their severed dissections fully
commendable; I think, and think I think rightly, the laurel crown
appointed for triumphant captains, doth worthily, of all other learnings,
honour the poet’s triumph.

But {59} because we have ears as well as tongues, and that the lightest
reasons that may be, will seem to weigh greatly, if nothing be put in the
counterbalance, let us hear, and, as well as we can, ponder what
objections be made against this art, which may be worthy either of
yielding or answering.

First, truly, I note, not only in these μισομούσοι, poet-haters, but in
all that kind of people who seek a praise by dispraising others, that
they do prodigally spend a great many wandering words in quips and
scoffs, carping and taunting at each thing, which, by stirring the
spleen, may stay the brain from a thorough beholding, the worthiness of
the subject.  Those kind of objections, as they are full of a very idle
uneasiness (since there is nothing of so sacred a majesty, but that an
itching tongue may rub itself upon it), so deserve they no other answer,
but, instead of laughing at the jest, to laugh at the jester.  We know a
playing wit can praise the discretion of an ass, the comfortableness of
being in debt, and the jolly commodities of being sick of the plague; so,
of the contrary side, if we will turn Ovid’s verse,

    “Ut lateat virtus proximitate mali.”

“That good lies hid in nearness of the evil,” Agrippa will be as merry in
the showing the Vanity of Science, as Erasmus was in the commending of
Folly; {60} neither shall any man or matter escape some touch of these
smiling railers.  But for Erasmus and Agrippa, they had another
foundation than the superficial part would promise.  Marry, these other
pleasant fault-finders, who will correct the verb before they understand
the noun, and confute others’ knowledge before they confirm their own; I
would have them only remember, that scoffing cometh not of wisdom; so as
the best title in true English they get with their merriments, is to be
called good fools; for so have our grave forefathers ever termed that
humorous kind of jesters.

But that which giveth greatest scope to their scorning humour, is rhyming
and versing. {61}  It is already said, and, as I think, truly said, it is
not rhyming and versing that maketh poesy; one may be a poet without
versing, and a versifier without poetry.  But yet, presuppose it were
inseparable, as indeed, it seemeth Scaliger judgeth truly, it were an
inseparable commendation; for if “oratio” next to “ratio,” speech next to
reason, be the greatest gift bestowed upon mortality, that cannot be
praiseless which doth most polish that blessing of speech; which
considereth each word, not only as a man may say by his forcible quality,
but by his best measured quantity; carrying even in themselves a harmony;
without, perchance, number, measure, order, proportion be in our time
grown odious.

But lay aside the just praise it hath, by being the only fit speech for
music—music, I say, the most divine striker of the senses; thus much is
undoubtedly true, that if reading be foolish without remembering, memory
being the only treasure of knowledge, those words which are fittest for
memory, are likewise most convenient for knowledge.  Now, that verse far
exceedeth prose in the knitting up of the memory, the reason is manifest:
the words, besides their delight, which hath a great affinity to memory,
being so set as one cannot be lost, but the whole work fails: which
accusing itself, calleth the remembrance back to itself, and so most
strongly confirmeth it.  Besides, one word so, as it were, begetting
another, as, be it in rhyme or measured verse, by the former a man shall
have a near guess to the follower.  Lastly, even they that have taught
the art of memory, have showed nothing so apt for it as a certain room
divided into many places, well and thoroughly known; now that hath the
verse in effect perfectly, every word having his natural seat, which seat
must needs make the word remembered.  But what needs more in a thing so
known to all men?  Who is it that ever was a scholar that doth not carry
away some verses of Virgil, Horace, or Cato, which in his youth he
learned, and even to his old age serve him for hourly lessons? as,

    “Percontatorem fugito: nam garrulus idem est.
    Dum sibi quisque placet credula turba sumus.” {62}

But the fitness it hath for memory is notably proved by all delivery of
arts, wherein, for the most part, from grammar to logic, mathematics,
physic, and the rest, the rules chiefly necessary to be borne away are
compiled in verses.  So that verse being in itself sweet and orderly, and
being best for memory, the only handle of knowledge, it must be in jest
that any man can speak against it.

Now {63} then go we to the most important imputations laid to the poor
poets; for aught I can yet learn, they are these.

First, that there being many other more fruitful knowledges, a man might
better spend his time in them than in this.

Secondly, that it is the mother of lies.

Thirdly, that it is the nurse of abuse, infecting us with many pestilent
desires, with a syren sweetness, drawing the mind to the serpent’s tail
of sinful fancies; and herein, especially, comedies give the largest
field to ear, as Chaucer saith; how, both in other nations and ours,
before poets did soften us, we were full of courage, given to martial
exercises, the pillars of manlike liberty, and not lulled asleep in shady
idleness with poets’ pastimes.

And lastly and chiefly, they cry out with open mouth, as if they had
overshot Robin Hood, that Plato banished them out of his commonwealth.
Truly this is much, if there be much truth in it.

First, {64} to the first, that a man might better spend his time, is a
reason indeed; but it doth, as they say, but “petere principium.” {65}
For if it be, as I affirm, that no learning is so good as that which
teacheth and moveth to virtue, and that none can both teach and move
thereto so much as poesy, then is the conclusion manifest, that ink and
paper cannot be to a more profitable purpose employed.  And certainly,
though a man should grant their first assumption, it should follow,
methinks, very unwillingly, that good is not good because better is
better.  But I still and utterly deny that there is sprung out of earth a
more fruitful knowledge.

To {66} the second, therefore, that they should be the principal liars, I
answer paradoxically, but truly, I think truly, that of all writers under
the sun, the poet is the least liar; and though he would, as a poet, can
scarcely be a liar.  The astronomer, with his cousin the geometrician,
can hardly escape when they take upon them to measure the height of the
stars.  How often, think you, do the physicians lie, when they aver
things good for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon a great number
of souls drowned in a potion before they come to his ferry.  And no less
of the rest which take upon them to affirm.  Now for the poet, he nothing
affirmeth, and therefore never lieth; for, as I take it, to lie is to
affirm that to be true which is false: so as the other artists, and
especially the historian, affirmeth many things, can, in the cloudy
knowledge of mankind, hardly escape from many lies: but the poet, as I
said before, never affirmeth; the poet never maketh any circles about
your imagination, to conjure you to believe for true what he writeth: he
citeth not authorities of other histories, but even for his entry calleth
the sweet Muses to inspire into him a good invention; in troth, not
labouring to tell you what is or is not, but what should or should not
be.  And, therefore, though he recount things not true, yet because he
telleth them not for true he lieth not; without we will say that Nathan
lied in his speech, before alleged, to David; which, as a wicked man
durst scarce say, so think I none so simple would say, that Æsop lied in
the tales of his beasts; for who thinketh that Æsop wrote it for actually
true, were well worthy to have his name chronicled among the beasts he
writeth of.  What child is there that cometh to a play, and seeing Thebes
written in great letters upon an old door, doth believe that it is
Thebes?  If then a man can arrive to the child’s age, to know that the
poet’s persons and doings are but pictures what should be, and not
stories what have been, they will never give the lie to things not
affirmatively, but allegorically and figuratively written; and therefore,
as in history, looking for truth, they may go away full fraught with
falsehood, so in poesy, looking but for fiction, they shall use the
narration but as an imaginative ground-plot of a profitable invention.

But hereto is replied, that the poets give names to men they write of,
which argueth a conceit of an actual truth, and so, not being true,
proveth a falsehood.  And doth the lawyer lie then, when, under the names
of John of the Stile, and John of the Nokes, he putteth his case?  But
that is easily answered, their naming of men is but to make their picture
the more lively, and not to build any history.  Painting men, they cannot
leave men nameless; we see we cannot play at chess but that we must give
names to our chess-men: and yet, methinks, he were a very partial
champion of truth that would say we lied for giving a piece of wood the
reverend title of a bishop.  The poet nameth Cyrus and Æneas no other way
than to show what men of their fames, fortunes, and estates should do.

Their {67} third is, how much it abuseth men’s wit, training it to a
wanton sinfulness and lustful love.  For, indeed, that is the principal
if not only abuse I can hear alleged.  They say the comedies rather
teach, than reprehend, amorous conceits; they say the lyric is larded
with passionate sonnets; the elegiac weeps the want of his mistress; and
that even to the heroical Cupid hath ambitiously climbed.  Alas! Love, I
would thou couldst as well defend thyself, as thou canst offend others!
I would those on whom thou dost attend, could either put thee away or
yield good reason why they keep thee!  But grant love of beauty to be a
beastly fault, although it be very hard, since only man, and no beast,
hath that gift to discern beauty; grant that lovely name of love to
deserve all hateful reproaches, although even some of my masters the
philosophers spent a good deal of their lamp-oil in setting forth the
excellency of it; grant, I say, what they will have granted, that not
only love, but lust, but vanity, but, if they list, scurrility, possess
many leaves of the poets’ books; yet, think I, when this is granted, they
will find their sentence may, with good manners, put the last words
foremost; and not say that poetry abuseth man’s wit, but that man’s wit
abuseth poetry.  For I will not deny but that man’s wit may make poesy,
which should be φραστικὴ, which some learned have defined, figuring forth
good things, to be φανταστικὴ, which doth contrariwise infect the fancy
with unworthy objects; as the painter, who should give to the eye either
some excellent perspective, or some fine picture fit for building or
fortification, or containing in it some notable example, as Abraham
sacrificing his son Isaac, Judith killing Holofernes, David fighting with
Goliath, may leave those, and please an ill-pleased eye with wanton shows
of better-hidden matters.

But, what! shall the abuse of a thing make the right use odious?  Nay,
truly, though I yield that poesy may not only be abused, but that being
abused, by the reason of his sweet charming force, it can do more hurt
than any other army of words, yet shall it be so far from concluding,
that the abuse shall give reproach to the abused, that, contrariwise, it
is a good reason, that whatsoever being abused, doth most harm, being
rightly used (and upon the right use each thing receives his title) doth
most good.  Do we not see skill of physic, the best rampire {68} to our
often-assaulted bodies, being abused, teach poison, the most violent
destroyer?  Doth not knowledge of law, whose end is to even and right all
things, being abused, grow the crooked fosterer of horrible injuries?
Doth not (to go in the highest) God’s word abused breed heresy, and His
name abused become blasphemy?  Truly, a needle cannot do much hurt, and
as truly (with leave of ladies be it spoken) it cannot do much good.
With a sword thou mayest kill thy father, and with a sword thou mayest
defend thy prince and country; so that, as in their calling poets fathers
of lies, they said nothing, so in this their argument of abuse, they
prove the commendation.

They allege herewith, that before poets began to be in price, our nation
had set their heart’s delight upon action, and not imagination; rather
doing things worthy to be written, than writing things fit to be done.
What that before time was, I think scarcely Sphynx can tell; since no
memory is so ancient that gives not the precedence to poetry.  And
certain it is, that, in our plainest homeliness, yet never was the Albion
nation without poetry.  Marry, this argument, though it be levelled
against poetry, yet it is indeed a chain-shot against all learning or
bookishness, as they commonly term it.  Of such mind were certain Goths,
of whom it is written, that having in the spoil of a famous city taken a
fair library, one hangman, belike fit to execute the fruits of their
wits, who had murdered a great number of bodies, would have set fire in
it.  “No,” said another, very gravely, “take heed what you do, for while
they are busy about those toys, we shall with more leisure conquer their
countries.”  This, indeed, is the ordinary doctrine of ignorance, and
many words sometimes I have heard spent in it; but because this reason is
generally against all learning as well as poetry, or rather all learning
but poetry; because it were too large a digression to handle it, or at
least too superfluous, since it is manifest that all government of action
is to be gotten by knowledge, and knowledge best by gathering many
knowledges, which is reading; I only say with Horace, to him that is of
that opinion,

    “Jubeo stultum esse libenter—” {69}

for as for poetry itself, it is the freest from this, objection, for
poetry is the companion of camps.  I dare undertake, Orlando Furioso, or
honest King Arthur, will never displease a soldier: but the quiddity of
“ens” and “prima materia” will hardly agree with a corslet.  And,
therefore, as I said in the beginning, even Turks and Tartars are
delighted with poets.  Homer, a Greek, flourished before Greece
flourished; and if to a slight conjecture a conjecture may be opposed,
truly it may seem, that as by him their learned men took almost their
first light of knowledge, so their active men receive their first notions
of courage.  Only Alexander’s example may serve, who by Plutarch is
accounted of such virtue that fortune was not his guide but his
footstool; whose acts speak for him, though Plutarch did not; indeed, the
phoenix of warlike princes.  This Alexander left his schoolmaster, living
Aristotle, behind him, but took dead Homer with him.  He put the
philosopher Callisthenes to death, for his seeming philosophical, indeed
mutinous, stubbornness; but the chief thing he was ever heard to wish for
was that Homer had been alive.  He well found he received more bravery of
mind by the pattern of Achilles, than by hearing the definition of
fortitude.  And, therefore, if Cato misliked Fulvius for carrying Ennius
with him to the field, it may be answered that if Cato misliked it the
noble Fulvius liked it, or else he had not done it; for it was not the
excellent Cato Uticensis whose authority I would much more have
reverenced, but it was the former, in truth a bitter punisher of faults,
but else a man that had never sacrificed to the Graces.  He misliked, and
cried out against, all Greek learning, and yet, being fourscore years
old, began to learn it, belike fearing that Pluto understood not Latin.
Indeed, the Roman laws allowed no person to be carried to the wars but he
that was in the soldiers’ roll.  And, therefore, though Cato misliked his
unmustered person, he misliked not his work.  And if he had, Scipio
Nasica (judged by common consent the best Roman) loved him: both the
other Scipio brothers, who had by their virtues no less surnames than of
Asia and Afric, so loved him that they caused his body to be buried in
their sepulture.  So, as Cato’s authority being but against his person,
and that answered with so far greater than himself, is herein of no

But {70} now, indeed, my burthen is great, that Plato’s name is laid upon
me, whom, I must confess, of all philosophers I have ever esteemed most
worthy of reverence; and with good reason, since of all philosophers he
is the most poetical; yet if he will defile the fountain out of which his
flowing streams have proceeded, let us boldly examine with what reason he
did it.

First, truly, a man might maliciously object that Plato, being a
philosopher, was a natural enemy of poets.  For, indeed, after the
philosophers had picked out of the sweet mysteries of poetry the right
discerning of true points of knowledge, they forthwith, putting it in
method, and making a school of art of that which the poets did only teach
by a divine delightfulness, beginning to spurn at their guides, like
ungrateful apprentices, were not content to set up shop for themselves,
but sought by all means to discredit their masters; which, by the force
of delight being barred them, the less they could overthrow them, the
more they hated them.  For, indeed, they found for Homer seven cities
strove who should have him for their citizen, where many cities banished
philosophers as not fit members to live among them.  For only repeating
certain of Euripides’ verses many Athenians had their lives saved of the
Syracusans, where the Athenians themselves thought many of the
philosophers unworthy to live.  Certain poets, as Simonides and Pindar,
had so prevailed with Hiero the First, that of a tyrant they made him a
just king; where Plato could do so little with Dionysius that he himself,
of a philosopher, was made a slave.  But who should do thus, I confess,
should requite the objections raised against poets with like cavillations
against philosophers; as likewise one should do that should bid one read
Phædrus or Symposium in Plato, or the discourse of Love in Plutarch, and
see whether any poet do authorise abominable filthiness as they do.

Again, a man might ask, out of what Commonwealth Plato doth banish them?
In sooth, thence where he himself alloweth community of women.  So, as
belike this banishment grew not for effeminate wantonness, since little
should poetical sonnets be hurtful, when a man might have what woman he
listed.  But I honour philosophical instructions, and bless the wits
which bred them, so as they be not abused, which is likewise stretched to
poetry.  Saint Paul himself sets a watchword upon philosophy, indeed upon
the abuse.  So doth Plato upon the abuse, not upon poetry.  Plato found
fault that the poets of his time filled the world with wrong opinions of
the gods, making light tales of that unspotted essence, and therefore
would not have the youth depraved with such opinions.  Herein may much be
said; let this suffice: the poets did not induce such opinions, but did
imitate those opinions already induced.  For all the Greek stories can
well testify that the very religion of that time stood upon many and
many-fashioned gods; not taught so by poets, but followed according to
their nature of imitation.  Who list may read in Plutarch the discourses
of Isis and Osiris, of the cause why oracles ceased, of the Divine
providence, and see whether the theology of that nation stood not upon
such dreams, which the poets indeed superstitiously observed; and truly,
since they had not the light of Christ, did much better in it than the
philosophers, who, shaking off superstition, brought in atheism.

Plato, therefore, whose authority I had much rather justly construe than
unjustly resist, meant not in general of poets, in those words of which
Julius Scaliger saith, “qua authoritate, barbari quidam atque insipidi,
abuti velint ad poetas e republicâ exigendos {71}:” but only meant to
drive out those wrong opinions of the Deity, whereof now, without farther
law, Christianity hath taken away all the hurtful belief, perchance as he
thought nourished by then esteemed poets.  And a man need go no farther
than to Plato himself to know his meaning; who, in his dialogue called
“Ion,” {72} giveth high, and rightly, divine commendation unto poetry.
So as Plato, banishing the abuse, not the thing, not banishing it, but
giving due honour to it, shall be our patron, and not our adversary.
For, indeed, I had much rather, since truly I may do it, show their
mistaking of Plato, under whose lion’s skin they would make an ass-like
braying against poesy, than go about to overthrow his authority; whom,
the wiser a man is, the more just cause he shall find to have in
admiration; especially since he attributeth unto poesy more than myself
do, namely, to be a very inspiring of a divine force, far above man’s
wit, as in the fore-named dialogue is apparent.

Of the other side, who would show the honours have been by the best sort
of judgments granted them, a whole sea of examples would present
themselves; Alexanders, Cæsars, Scipios, all favourers of poets; Lælius,
called the Roman Socrates, himself a poet; so as part of
Heautontimeroumenos, in Terence, was supposed to be made by him.  And
even the Greek Socrates, whom Apollo confirmed to be the only wise man,
is said to have spent part of his old time in putting Æsop’s Fables into
verse; and, therefore, full evil should it become his scholar Plato to
put such words in his master’s mouth against poets. But what needs more?
Aristotle writes the “Art of Poesy;” and why, if it should not be
written?  Plutarch teacheth the use to be gathered of them; and how, if
they should not be read?  And who reads Plutarch’s either history or
philosophy, shall find he trimmeth both their garments with guards {73}
of poesy.

But I list not to defend poesy with the help of his underling
historiographer.  Let it suffice to have showed it is a fit soil for
praise to dwell upon; and what dispraise may be set upon it is either
easily overcome, or transformed into just commendation.  So that since
the excellences of it may be so easily and so justly confirmed, and the
low creeping objections so soon trodden down {74}; it not being an art of
lies, but of true doctrine; not of effeminateness, but of notable
stirring of courage; not of abusing man’s wit, but of strengthening man’s
wit; not banished, but honoured by Plato; let us rather plant more
laurels for to ingarland the poets’ heads (which honour of being
laureate, as besides them only triumphant captains were, is a sufficient
authority to show the price they ought to be held in) than suffer the
ill-favoured breath of such wrong speakers once to blow upon the clear
springs of poesy.

But {75} since I have run so long a career in this matter, methinks,
before I give my pen a full stop, it shall be but a little more lost time
to inquire, why England, the mother of excellent minds, should be grown
so hard a step-mother to poets, who certainly in wit ought to pass all
others, since all only proceeds from their wit, being, indeed, makers of
themselves, not takers of others.  How can I but exclaim,

    “Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine læso?” {76}

Sweet poesy! that hath anciently had kings, emperors, senators, great
captains, such as, besides a thousand others, David, Adrian, Sophocles,
Germanicus, not only to favour poets, but to be poets; and of our nearer
times can present for her patrons, a Robert, King of Sicily; the great
King Francis of France; King James of Scotland; such cardinals as Bembus
and Bibiena; such famous preachers and teachers as Beza and Melancthon;
so learned philosophers as Fracastorius and Scaliger; so great orators as
Pontanus and Muretus; so piercing wits as George Buchanan; so grave
councillors as, besides many, but before all, that Hospital {77} of
France, than whom, I think, that realm never brought forth a more
accomplished judgment more firmly builded upon virtue; I say these, with
numbers of others, not only to read others’ poesies, but to poetise for
others’ reading: that poesy, thus embraced in all other places, should
only find in our time a hard welcome in England, I think the very earth
laments it, and therefore decks our soil with fewer laurels than it was
accustomed.  For heretofore poets have in England also flourished; and,
which is to be noted, even in those times when the trumpet of Mars did
sound loudest.  And now that an over-faint quietness should seem to strew
the house for poets, they are almost in as good reputation as the
mountebanks at Venice.  Truly, even that, as of the one side it giveth
great praise to poesy, which, like Venus (but to better purpose), had
rather be troubled in the net with Mars, than enjoy the homely quiet of
Vulcan; so serveth it for a piece of a reason why they are less grateful
to idle England, which now can scarce endure the pain of a pen.  Upon
this necessarily followeth that base men with servile wits undertake it,
who think it enough if they can be rewarded of the printer; and so as
Epaminondas is said, with the honour of his virtue, to have made an
office by his exercising it, which before was contemptible, to become
highly respected; so these men, no more but setting their names to it, by
their own disgracefulness, disgrace the most graceful poesy.  For now, as
if all the Muses were got with child, to bring forth bastard poets,
without any commission, they do post over the banks of Helicon, until
they make their readers more weary than post-horses; while, in the
meantime, they,

    “Queis meliore luto finxit præcordia Titan,” {78}

are better content to suppress the outflowings of their wit, than by
publishing them to be accounted knights of the same order.

But I that, before ever I durst aspire unto the dignity, am admitted into
the company of the paper-blurrers, do find the very true cause of our
wanting estimation is want of desert, taking upon us to be poets in
despite of Pallas.  Now, wherein we want desert, were a thankworthy
labour to express.  But if I knew, I should have mended myself; but as I
never desired the title so have I neglected the means to come by it;
only, overmastered by some thoughts, I yielded an inky tribute unto them.
Marry, they that delight in poesy itself, should seek to know what they
do, and how they do, especially look themselves in an unflattering glass
of reason, if they be inclinable unto it.

For poesy must not be drawn by the ears, it must be gently led, or rather
it must lead; which was partly the cause that made the ancient learned
affirm it was a divine, and no human skill, since all other knowledges
lie ready for any that have strength of wit; a poet no industry can make,
if his own genius be not carried into it.  And therefore is an old
proverb, “Orator fit, poeta nascitur.” {79}  Yet confess I always, that
as the fertilest ground must be manured, so must the highest flying wit
have a Dædalus to guide him.  That Dædalus, they say, both in this and in
other, hath three wings to bear itself up into the air of due
commendation; that is art, imitation, and exercise.  But these, neither
artificial rules, nor imitative patterns, we much cumber ourselves
withal.  Exercise, indeed, we do, but that very forebackwardly; for where
we should exercise to know, we exercise as having known; and so is our
brain delivered of much matter which never was begotten by knowledge.
For there being two principal parts, matter to be expressed by words, and
words to express the matter, in neither we use art or imitation rightly.
Our matter is “quodlibet,” {80} indeed, although wrongly, performing
Ovid’s verse,

    “Quicquid conabor dicere, versus erit;” {81}

never marshalling it into any assured rank, that almost the readers
cannot tell where to find themselves.

Chaucer, undoubtedly, did excellently in his Troilus and Cressida; of
whom, truly, I know not whether to marvel more, either that he in that
misty time could see so clearly, or that we in this clear age go so
stumblingly after him.  Yet had he great wants, fit to be forgiven in so
reverend antiquity.  I account the Mirror of Magistrates meetly furnished
of beautiful parts.  And in the Earl of Surrey’s Lyrics, many things
tasting of a noble birth, and worthy of a noble mind.  The “Shepherds’
Kalendar” hath much poesy in his eclogues, indeed, worthy the reading, if
I be not deceived.  That same framing of his {82} style to an old rustic
language, I dare not allow; since neither Theocritus in Greek, Virgil in
Latin, nor Sannazaro in Italian, did affect it.  Besides these, I do not
remember to have seen but few (to speak boldly) printed that have
poetical sinews in them.  For proof whereof, let but most of the verses
be put in prose, and then ask the meaning, and it will be found that one
verse did but beget another, without ordering at the first what should be
at the last; which becomes a confused mass of words, with a tinkling
sound of rhyme, barely accompanied with reason.

Our {83} tragedies and comedies, not without cause, are cried out
against, observing rules neither of honest civility nor skilful poetry.
Excepting _Gorboduc_ (again I say of those that I have seen), which
notwithstanding, as it is full of stately speeches, and well-sounding
phrases, climbing to the height of Seneca his style, and as full of
notable morality, which it does most delightfully teach, and so obtain
the very end of poesy; yet, in truth, it is very defectuous in the
circumstances, which grieves me, because it might not remain as an exact
model of all tragedies.  For it is faulty both in place and time, the two
necessary companions of all corporal actions.  For where the stage should
always represent but one place; and the uttermost time presupposed in it
should be, both by Aristotle’s precept, and common reason, but one day;
there is both many days and many places inartificially imagined.

But if it be so in Gorboduc, how much more in all the rest? where you
shall have Asia of the one side, and Afric of the other, and so many
other under kingdoms, that the player, when he comes in, must ever begin
with telling where he is, {84} or else the tale will not be conceived.
Now shall you have three ladies walk to gather flowers, and then we must
believe the stage to be a garden.  By and by, we hear news of shipwreck
in the same place, then we are to blame if we accept it not for a rock.
Upon the back of that comes out a hideous monster with fire and smoke,
and then the miserable beholders are bound to take it for a cave; while,
in the meantime, two armies fly in, represented with four swords and
bucklers, and then, what hard heart will not receive it for a pitched

Now of time they are much more liberal; for ordinary it is, that two
young princes fall in love; after many traverses she is got with child;
delivered of a fair boy; he is lost, groweth a man, falleth in love, and
is ready to get another child; and all this in two hours’ space; which,
how absurd it is in sense, even sense may imagine; and art hath taught
and all ancient examples justified, and at this day the ordinary players
in Italy will not err in.  Yet will some bring in an example of the
Eunuch in Terence, that containeth matter of two days, yet far short of
twenty years.  True it is, and so was it to be played in two days, and so
fitted to the time it set forth.  And though Plautus have in one place
done amiss, let us hit it with him, and not miss with him.  But they will
say, How then shall we set forth a story which contains both many places
and many times?  And do they not know, that a tragedy is tied to the laws
of poesy, and not of history; not bound to follow the story, but having
liberty either to feign a quite new matter, or to frame the history to
the most tragical convenience?  Again, many things may be told, which
cannot be showed: if they know the difference betwixt reporting and
representing.  As for example, I may speak, though I am here, of Peru,
and in speech digress from that to the description of Calicut; but in
action I cannot represent it without Pacolet’s horse.  And so was the
manner the ancients took by some “Nuntius,” {85} to recount things done
in former time, or other place.

Lastly, if they will represent an history, they must not, as Horace
saith, begin “ab ovo,” {86} but they must come to the principal point of
that one action which they will represent.  By example this will be best
expressed; I have a story of young Polydorus, delivered, for safety’s
sake, with great riches, by his father Priamus to Polymnestor, King of
Thrace, in the Trojan war time.  He, after some years, hearing of the
overthrow of Priamus, for to make the treasure his own, murdereth the
child; the body of the child is taken up; Hecuba, she, the same day,
findeth a sleight to be revenged most cruelly of the tyrant.  Where, now,
would one of our tragedy-writers begin, but with the delivery of the
child?  Then should he sail over into Thrace, and so spend I know not how
many years, and travel numbers of places.  But where doth Euripides?
Even with the finding of the body; leaving the rest to be told by the
spirit of Polydorus.  This needs no farther to be enlarged; the dullest
wit may conceive it.

But, besides these gross absurdities, how all their plays be neither
right tragedies nor right comedies, mingling kings and clowns, not
because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clown by head and
shoulders to play a part in majestical matters, with neither decency nor
discretion; so as neither the admiration and commiseration, nor the right
sportfulness, is by their mongrel tragi-comedy obtained.  I know Apuleius
did somewhat so, but that is a thing recounted with space of time, not
represented in one moment: and I know the ancients have one or two
examples of tragi-comedies as Plautus hath Amphytrio.  But, if we mark
them well, we shall find, that they never, or very daintily, match
horn-pipes and funerals.  So falleth it out, that having indeed no right
comedy in that comical part of our tragedy, we have nothing but
scurrility, unworthy of any chaste ears; or some extreme show of
doltishness, indeed fit to lift up a loud laughter, and nothing else;
where the whole tract of a comedy should be full of delight; as the
tragedy should be still maintained in a well-raised admiration.

But our comedians think there is no delight without laughter, which is
very wrong; for though laughter may come with delight, yet cometh it not
of delight, as though delight should be the cause of laughter; but well
may one thing breed both together.  Nay, in themselves, they have, as it
were, a kind of contrariety.  For delight we scarcely do, but in things
that have a conveniency to ourselves, or to the general nature.  Laughter
almost ever cometh of things most disproportioned to ourselves and
nature: delight hath a joy in it either permanent or present; laughter
hath only a scornful tickling.  For example: we are ravished with delight
to see a fair woman, and yet are far from being moved to laughter; we
laugh at deformed creatures, wherein certainly we cannot delight; we
delight in good chances; we laugh at mischances; we delight to hear the
happiness of our friends and country, at which he were worthy to be
laughed at that would laugh: we shall, contrarily, sometimes laugh to
find a matter quite mistaken, and go down the hill against the bias, {87}
in the mouth of some such men, as for the respect of them, one shall be
heartily sorrow he cannot choose but laugh, and so is rather pained than
delighted with laughter.  Yet deny I not, but that they may go well
together; for, as in Alexander’s picture well set out, we delight without
laughter, and in twenty mad antics we laugh without delight: so in
Hercules, painted with his great beard and furious countenance, in a
woman’s attire, spinning at Omphale’s commandment, it breeds both delight
and laughter; for the representing of so strange a power in love procures
delight, and the scornfulness of the action stirreth laughter.

But I speak to this purpose, that all the end of the comical part be not
upon such scornful matters as stir laughter only, but mix with it that
delightful teaching which is the end of poesy.  And the great fault, even
in that point of laughter, and forbidden plainly by Aristotle, is, that
they stir laughter in sinful things, which are rather execrable than
ridiculous; or in miserable, which are rather to be pitied than scorned.
For what is it to make folks gape at a wretched beggar, and a beggarly
clown; or against the law of hospitality, to jest at strangers, because
they speak not English so well as we do? what do we learn, since it is

    “Nil habet infelix pauperatas durius in se,
    Quam qnod ridiculos, homines facit.” {88}

But rather a busy loving courtier, and a heartless threatening Thraso; a
self-wise seeming school-master; a wry-transformed traveller: these, if
we saw walk in stage names, which we play naturally, therein were
delightful laughter, and teaching delightfulness: as in the other, the
tragedies of Buchanan {89} do justly bring forth a divine admiration.

But I have lavished out too many words of this play matter; I do it,
because, as they are excelling parts of poesy, so is there none so much
used in England, and none can be more pitifully abused; which, like an
unmannerly daughter, showing a bad education, causeth her mother Poesy’s
honesty to be called in question.

Other {90} sorts of poetry, almost, have we none, but that lyrical kind
of songs and sonnets, which, if the Lord gave us so good minds, how well
it might be employed, and with how heavenly fruits, both private and
public, in singing the praises of the immortal beauty, the immortal
goodness of that God, who giveth us hands to write, and wits to conceive;
of which we might well want words, but never matter; of which we could
turn our eyes to nothing, but we should ever have new budding occasions.

But, truly, many of such writings as come under the banner of
unresistible love, if I were a mistress, would never persuade me they
were in love; so coldly they apply fiery speeches, as men that had rather
read lover’s writings, and so caught up certain swelling phrases, which
hang together like a man that once told me, “the wind was at north-west
and by south,” because he would be sure to name winds enough; than that,
in truth, they feel those passions, which easily, as I think, may be
bewrayed by the same forcibleness, or “energia” (as the Greeks call it),
of the writer.  But let this be a sufficient, though short note, that we
miss the right use of the material point of poesy.

Now {91} for the outside of it, which is words, or (as I may term it)
diction, it is even well worse; so is that honey-flowing matron
eloquence, apparelled, or rather disguised, in a courtesan-like painted
affectation.  One time with so far-fetched words, that many seem
monsters, but most seem strangers to any poor Englishman: another time
with coursing of a letter, as if they were bound to follow the method of
a dictionary: another time with figures and flowers, extremely

But I would this fault were only peculiar to versifiers, and had not as
large possession among prose printers: and, which is to be marvelled,
among many scholars, and, which is to be pitied, among some preachers.
Truly, I could wish (if at least I might be so bold to wish, in a thing
beyond the reach of my capacity) the diligent imitators of Tully and
Demosthenes, most worthy to be imitated, did not so much keep Nizolian
paper-books {92} of their figures and phrases, as by attentive
translation, as it were, devour them whole, and make them wholly theirs.
For now they cast sugar and spice upon every dish that is served at the
table: like those Indians, not content to wear ear-rings at the fit and
natural place of the ears, but they will thrust jewels through their nose
and lips, because they will be sure to be fine.

Tully, when he was to drive out Catiline, as it were with a thunderbolt
of eloquence, often useth the figure of repetition, as “vivit et vincit,
imo in senatum venit, imo in senatum venit,” &c. {93}  Indeed, inflamed
with a well-grounded rage, he would have his words, as it were, double
out of his mouth; and so do that artificially which we see men in choler
do naturally.  And we, having noted the grace of those words, hale them
in sometimes to a familiar epistle, when it were too much choler to be

How well, store of “similiter cadences” doth sound with the gravity of
the pulpit, I would but invoke Demosthenes’ soul to tell, who with a rare
daintiness useth them.  Truly, they have made me think of the sophister,
that with too much subtlety would prove two eggs three, and though he may
be counted a sophister, had none for his labour.  So these men bringing
in such a kind of eloquence, well may they obtain an opinion of a seeming
fineness, but persuade few, which should be the end of their fineness.

Now for similitudes in certain printed discourses, I think all
herbalists, all stories of beasts, fowls, and fishes are rifled up, that
they may come in multitudes to wait upon any of our conceits, which
certainly is as absurd a surfeit to the ears as is possible.  For the
force of a similitude not being to prove anything to a contrary disputer,
but only to explain to a willing hearer: when that is done, the rest is a
most tedious prattling, rather overswaying the memory from the purpose
whereto they were applied, than any whit informing the judgment, already
either satisfied, or by similitudes not to be satisfied.

For my part, I do not doubt, when Antonius and Crassus, the great
forefathers of Cicero in eloquence; the one (as Cicero testifieth of
them) pretended not to know art, the other not to set by it, because with
a plain sensibleness they might win credit of popular ears, which credit
is the nearest step to persuasion (which persuasion is the chief mark of
oratory); I do not doubt, I say, but that they used these knacks very
sparingly; which who doth generally use, any man may see, doth dance to
his own music; and so to be noted by the audience, more careful to speak
curiously than truly.  Undoubtedly (at least to my opinion undoubtedly) I
have found in divers small-learned courtiers a more sound style than in
some professors of learning; of which I can guess no other cause, but
that the courtier following that which by practice he findeth fittest to
nature, therein (though he know it not) doth according to art, though not
by art: where the other, using art to show art, and not hide art (as in
these cases he should do), flieth from nature, and indeed abuseth art.

But what! methinks I deserve to be pounded {94} for straying from poetry
to oratory: but both have such an affinity in the wordish considerations,
that I think this digression will make my meaning receive the fuller
understanding: which is not to take upon me to teach poets how they
should do, but only finding myself sick among the rest, to allow some one
or two spots of the common infection grown among the most part of
writers; that, acknowledging ourselves somewhat awry, we may bend to the
right use both of matter and manner: whereto our language giveth us great
occasion, being, indeed, capable of any excellent exercising of it. {95}
I know some will say, it is a mingled language: and why not so much the
better, taking the best of both the other?  Another will say, it wanteth
grammar.  Nay, truly, it hath that praise, that it wants not grammar; for
grammar it might have, but needs it not; being so easy in itself, and so
void of those cumbersome differences of cases, genders, moods, and
tenses; which, I think, was a piece of the tower of Babylon’s curse, that
a man should be put to school to learn his mother tongue.  But for the
uttering sweetly and properly the conceit of the mind, which is the end
of speech, that hath it equally with any other tongue in the world, and
is particularly happy in compositions of two or three words together,
near the Greek, far beyond the Latin; which is one of the greatest
beauties can be in a language.

Now, {96} of versifying there are two sorts, the one ancient, the other
modern; the ancient marked the quantity of each syllable, and according
to that framed his verse; the modern, observing only number, with some
regard of the accent, the chief life of it standeth in that like sounding
of the words, which we call rhyme.  Whether of these be the more
excellent, would bear many speeches; the ancient, no doubt more fit for
music, both words and time observing quantity; and more fit lively to
express divers passions, by the low or lofty sound of the well-weighed
syllable.  The latter, likewise, with his rhyme striketh a certain music
to the ear; and, in fine, since it doth delight, though by another way,
it obtaineth the same purpose; there being in either, sweetness, and
wanting in neither, majesty.  Truly the English, before any vulgar
language I know, is fit for both sorts; for, for the ancient, the Italian
is so full of vowels, that it must ever be cumbered with elisions.  The
Dutch so, of the other side, with consonants, that they cannot yield the
sweet sliding fit for a verse.  The French, in his whole language, hath
not one word that hath his accent in the last syllable, saving two,
called antepenultima; and little more, hath the Spanish, and therefore
very gracelessly may they use dactiles.  The English is subject to none
of these defects.

Now for rhyme, though we do not observe quantity, we observe the accent
very precisely, which other languages either cannot do, or will not do so
absolutely.  That “cæsura,” or breathing-place, in the midst of the
verse, neither Italian nor Spanish have, the French and we never almost
fail of.  Lastly, even the very rhyme itself the Italian cannot put in
the last syllable, by the French named the masculine rhyme, but still in
the next to the last, which the French call the female; or the next
before that, which the Italian calls “sdrucciola:” the example of the
former is, “buono,” “suono;” of the sdrucciola is, “femina,” “semina.”
The French, of the other side, hath both the male, as “bon,” “son,” and
the female, as “plaise,” “taise;” but the “sdrucciola” he hath not; where
the English hath all three, as “due,” “true,” “father,” “rather,”
“motion,” “potion;” with much more which might be said, but that already
I find the trifling of this discourse is much too much enlarged.

So {97} that since the ever praiseworthy poesy is full of virtue,
breeding delightfulness, and void of no gift that ought to be in the
noble name of learning; since the blames laid against it are either false
or feeble; since the cause why it is not esteemed in England is the fault
of poet-apes, not poets; since, lastly, our tongue is most fit to honour
poesy, and to be honoured by poesy; I conjure you all that have had the
evil luck to read this ink-wasting toy of mine, even in the name of the
Nine Muses, no more to scorn the sacred mysteries of poesy; no more to
laugh at the name of poets, as though they were next inheritors to fools;
no more to jest at the reverend title of “a rhymer;” but to believe, with
Aristotle, that they were the ancient treasurers of the Grecian’s
divinity; to believe, with Bembus, that they were the first bringers in
of all civility; to believe, with Scaliger, that no philosopher’s
precepts can sooner make you an honest man, than the reading of Virgil;
to believe, with Clauserus, the translator of Cornutus, that it pleased
the heavenly deity by Hesiod and Homer, under the veil of fables, to give
us all knowledge, logic, rhetoric, philosophy natural and moral, and
“quid non?” to believe, with me, that there are many mysteries contained
in poetry, which of purpose were written darkly, lest by profane wits it
should be abused; to believe, with Landin, that they are so beloved of
the gods that whatsoever they write proceeds of a divine fury.  Lastly,
to believe themselves, when they tell you they will make you immortal by
their verses.

Thus doing, your names shall flourish in the printers’ shops: thus doing,
you shall be of kin to many a poetical preface: thus doing, you shall be
most fair, most rich, most wise, most all: you shall dwell upon
superlatives: thus doing, though you be “Libertino patre natus,” you
shall suddenly grow “Herculea proles,”

    “Si quid mea Carmina possunt:”

thus doing, your soul shall be placed with Dante’s Beatrix, or Virgil’s

But if (fie of such a but!) you be born so near the dull-making cataract
of Nilus, that you cannot hear the planet-like music of poetry; if you
have so earth-creeping a mind, that it cannot lift itself up to look to
the sky of poetry, or rather, by a certain rustical disdain, will become
such a Mome, as to be a Momus of poetry; then, though I will not wish
unto you the ass’s ears of Midas, nor to be driven by a poet’s verses, as
Bubonax was, to hang himself; nor to be rhymed to death, as is said to be
done in Ireland; yet thus much curse I must send you in the behalf of all
poets; that while you live, you live in love, and never get favour, for
lacking skill of a sonnet; and when you die, your memory die from the
earth for want of an epitaph.



_Made by Sir Philip Sidney_, _upon his meeting with his two worthy
friends and fellow poets_, _Sir Edward Dyer and M. Fulke Greville_.

   JOIN mates in mirth to me,
      Grant pleasure to our meeting;
   Let Pan, our good god, see
      How grateful is our greeting.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Ye hymns and singing skill
      Of god Apollo’s giving,
   Be pressed our reeds to fill
      With sound of music living.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Sweet Orpheus’ harp, whose sound
      The stedfast mountains moved,
   Let there thy skill abound,
      To join sweet friends beloved.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   My two and I be met,
      A happy blessed trinity,
   As three more jointly set
      In firmest band of unity.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Welcome my two to me,
      The number best beloved,
   Within my heart you be
      In friendship unremoved.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Give leave your flocks to range,
      Let us the while be playing;
   Within the elmy grange,
      Your flocks will not be straying.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Cause all the mirth you can,
      Since I am now come hither,
   Who never joy, but when
      I am with you together.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Like lovers do their love,
      So joy I in you seeing:
   Let nothing me remove
      From always with you being.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   And as the turtle dove
      To mate with whom he liveth,
   Such comfort fervent love
      Of you to my heart giveth.
         Join hearts and hands, so let it be,
         Make but one mind in bodies three.

   Now joinéd be our hands,
      Let them be ne’er asunder,
   But link’d in binding bands
      By metamorphosed wonder.
         So should our severed bodies three
         As one for ever joinéd be.


   WALKING in bright Phœbus’ blaze,
   Where with heat oppressed I was,
   I got to a shady wood,
   Where green leaves did newly bud;
   And of grass was plenty dwelling,
   Decked with pied flowers sweetly smelling.

   In this wood a man I met,
   On lamenting wholly set;
   Ruing change of wonted state,
   Whence he was transforméd late,
   Once to shepherds’ God retaining,
   Now in servile court remaining.

   There he wand’ring malecontent,
   Up and down perpléxed went,
   Daring not to tell to me,
   Spake unto a senseless tree,
   One among the rest electing,
   These same words, or this affecting:

   “My old mates I grieve to see
   Void of me in field to be,
   Where we once our lovely sheep
   Lovingly like friends did keep;
   Oft each other’s friendship proving,
   Never striving, but in loving.

   “But may love abiding be
   In poor shepherds’ base degree?
   It belongs to such alone
   To whom art of love is known:
   Seely shepherds are not witting
   What in art of love is fitting.

   “Nay, what need the art to those
   To whom we our love disclose?
   It is to be uséd then,
   When we do but flatter men:
   Friendship true, in heart assured,
   Is by Nature’s gifts procured.

   “Therefore shepherds, wanting skill,
   Can Love’s duties best fulfil;
   Since they know not how to feign,
   Nor with love to cloak disdain,
   Like the wiser sort, whose learning
   Hides their inward will of harming.

   “Well was I, while under shade
   Oaten reeds me music made,
   Striving with my mates in song;
   Mixing mirth our songs among.
   Greater was the shepherd’s treasure
   Than this false, fine, courtly pleasure.

   “Where how many creatures be,
   So many puffed in mind I see;
   Like to Juno’s birds of pride,
   Scarce each other can abide:
   Friends like to black swans appearing,
   Sooner these than those in hearing.

   “Therefore, Pan, if thou may’st be
   Made to listen unto me,
   Grant, I say, if seely man
   May make treaty to god Pan,
   That I, without thy denying,
   May be still to thee relying.

   “Only for my two loves’ sake,
   In whose love I pleasure take;
   Only two do me delight
   With their ever-pleasing sight;
   Of all men to thee retaining,
   Grant me with those two remaining.

   “So shall I to thee always
   With my reeds sound mighty praise:
   And first lamb that shall befall,
   Yearly deck thine altar shall,
   If it please thee to be reflected,
   And I from thee not rejected.”

   So I left him in that place,
   Taking pity on his case;
   Learning this among the rest,
   That the mean estate is best;
   Better filléd with contenting,
   Void of wishing and repenting.


   RING out your bells, let mourning shows be spread,
   For Love is dead:
      All Love is dead, infected
   With plague of deep disdain:
      Worth, as nought worth, rejected,
   And faith fair scorn doth gain.
      From so ungrateful fancy;
      From such a female frenzy;
      From them that use men thus,
      Good Lord, deliver us.

   Weep, neighbours, weep, do you not hear it said
   That Love is dead:
      His death-bed, peacock’s folly:
   His winding-sheet is shame;
      His will, false-seeming holy,
   His sole executor, blame.
      From so ungrateful fancy;
      From such a female frenzy;
      From them that use men thus,
      Good Lord, deliver us.

   Let dirge be sung, and trentals rightly read,
   For Love is dead:
      Sir Wrong his tomb ordaineth
   My mistress’ marble heart;
      Which epitaph containeth,
   “Her eyes were once his dart.”
      From so ungrateful fancy;
      From such a female frenzy;
      From them that use men thus,
      Good Lord, deliver us.

   Alas! I lie: rage hath this error bred;
   Love is not dead,
      Love is not dead, but sleepeth
   In her unmatchéd mind:
      Where she his counsel keepeth
   Till due deserts she find.
      Therefore from so vile fancy,
      To call such wit a frenzy:
      Who Love can temper thus,
      Good Lord, deliver us.


   AH, poor Love, why dost thou live,
      Thus to see thy service lost;
   If she will no comfort give,
      Make an end, yield up the ghost!

   That she may, at length, approve
      That she hardly long believed,
   That the heart will die for love
      That is not in time relieved.

   Oh, that ever I was born
      Service so to be refused;
   Faithful love to be forborn!
      Never love was so abused.

   But, sweet Love, be still awhile;
      She that hurt thee, Love, may heal thee;
   Sweet!  I see within her smile
      More than reason can reveal thee.

   For, though she be rich and fair,
      Yet she is both wise and kind,
   And, therefore, do thou not despair
      But thy faith may fancy find.

   Yet, although she be a queen
      That may such a snake despise,
   Yet, with silence all unseen,
      Run, and hide thee in her eyes:

   Where if she will let thee die,
      Yet at latest gasp of breath,
   Say that in a lady’s eye
      Love both took his life and death.


   PHILOCLEA and Pamela sweet,
   By chance, in one great house did meet;
   And meeting, did so join in heart,
   That th’ one from th’ other could not part:
   And who indeed (not made of stones)
   Would separate such lovely ones?
   The one is beautiful, and fair
   As orient pearls and rubies are;
   And sweet as, after gentle showers,
   The breath is of some thousand flowers:
   For due proportion, such an air
   Circles the other, and so fair,
   That it her brownness beautifies,
   And doth enchant the wisest eyes.

      Have you not seen, on some great day,
   Two goodly horses, white and bay,
   Which were so beauteous in their pride,
   You knew not which to choose or ride?
   Such are these two; you scarce can tell,
   Which is the daintier bonny belle;
   And they are such, as, by my troth,
   I had been sick with love of both,
   And might have sadly said, ‘Good-night
   Discretion and good fortune quite;’
   But that young Cupid, my old master,
   Presented me a sovereign plaster:
   Mopsa! ev’n Mopsa! (precious pet)
   Whose lips of marble, teeth of jet,
   Are spells and charms of strong defence,
   To conjure down concupiscence.

      How oft have I been reft of sense,
   By gazing on their excellence,
   But meeting Mopsa in my way,
   And looking on her face of clay,
   Been healed, and cured, and made as sound,
   As though I ne’er had had a wound?
   And when in tables of my heart,
   Love wrought such things as bred my smart,
   Mopsa would come, with face of clout,
   And in an instant wipe them out.
   And when their faces made me sick,
   Mopsa would come, with face of brick,
   A little heated in the fire,
   And break the neck of my desire.
   Now from their face I turn mine eyes,
   But (cruel panthers!) they surprise
   Me with their breath, that incense sweet,
   Which only for the gods is meet,
   And jointly from them doth respire,
   Like both the Indies set on fire:

      Which so o’ercomes man’s ravished sense,
   That souls, to follow it, fly hence.
   No such-like smell you if you range
   To th’ Stocks, or Cornhill’s square Exchange;
   There stood I still as any stock,
   Till Mopsa, with her puddle dock,
   Her compound or electuary,
   Made of old ling and young canary,
   Bloat-herring, cheese, and voided physic,
   Being somewhat troubled with a phthisic,
   Did cough, and fetch a sigh so deep,
   As did her very bottom sweep:
   Whereby to all she did impart,
   How love lay rankling at her heart:
   Which, when I smelt, desire was slain,
   And they breathed forth perfumes in vain.
   Their angel voice surprised me now;
   But Mopsa, her Too-whit, Too-whoo,
   Descending through her oboe nose,
   Did that distemper soon compose.

      And, therefore, O thou precious owl,
   The wise Minerva’s only fowl;
   What, at thy shrine, shall I devise
   To offer up a sacrifice?
   Hang Æsculapius, and Apollo,
   And Ovid, with his precious shallow.
   Mopsa is love’s best medicine,
   True water to a lover’s wine.
   Nay, she’s the yellow antidote,
   Both bred and born to cut Love’s throat:
   Be but my second, and stand by,
   Mopsa, and I’ll them both defy;
   And all else of those gallant races,
   Who wear infection in their faces;
   For thy face (that Medusa’s shield!)
   Will bring me safe out of the field.


_To the tune of the Spanish song_, “_Si tu señora no ducles de mi_.”

   O FAIR! O sweet! when I do look on thee,
      In whom all joys so well agree,
   Heart and soul do sing in me.
      This you hear is not my tongue,
   Which once said what I conceived;
   For it was of use bereaved,
      With a cruel answer stung.
   No! though tongue to roof be cleaved,
      Fearing lest he chastised be,
      Heart and soul do sing in me.

   O fair! O sweet! when I do look on thee,
      In whom all joys so well agree,
      Just accord all music makes;
   In thee just accord excelleth,
   Where each part in such peace dwelleth,
      One of other beauty takes.
   Since then truth to all minds telleth,
      That in thee lives harmony,
      Heart and soul do sing in me.

   O fair! O sweet! when I do look on thee,
      In whom all joys so well agree,
      They that heaven have known do say,
   That whoso that grace obtaineth,
   To see what fair sight there reigneth,
      Forcéd are to sing alway:
   So then since that heaven remaineth
      In thy face, I plainly see,
      Heart and soul do sing in me.

   O fair! O sweet! when I do look on thee,
      In whom all joys so well agree,
      Sweet, think not I am at ease,
   For because my chief part singeth;
   This song from death’s sorrow springeth:
      As to swan in last disease:
   For no dumbness, nor death, bringeth
      Stay to true love’s melody:
      Heart and soul do sing in me.


_From Horace_, _Book II. Ode X._, _beginning_ “_Rectius vives_,
_Licini_,” _&c._

   YOU better sure shall live, not evermore
      Trying high seas; nor, while sea’s rage you flee,
   Pressing too much upon ill-harboured shore.

   The golden mean who loves, lives safely free
      From filth of foreworn house, and quiet lives,
   Released from court, where envy needs must be.

   The wind most oft the hugest pine tree grieves:
      The stately towers come down with greater fall:
   The highest hills the bolt of thunder cleaves.

   Evil haps do fill with hope, good haps appall
      With fear of change, the courage well prepared:
   Foul winters, as they come, away they shall.

   Though present times, and past, with evils be snared,
      They shall not last: with cithern silent Muse,
   Apollo wakes, and bow hath sometime spared.

   In hard estate, with stout shows, valour use,
      The same man still, in whom wisdom prevails;
   In too full wind draw in thy swelling sails.


   PROMETHEUS, when first from heaven high
      He brought down fire, till then on earth not seen;
   Fond of delight, a satyr, standing by,
      Gave it a kiss, as it like sweet had been.

   Feeling forthwith the other burning power,
      Wood with the smart, with shouts and shrieking shrill,
   He sought his ease in river, field, and bower;
      But, for the time, his grief went with him still.

   So silly I, with that unwonted sight,
      In human shape an angel from above,
   Feeding mine eyes, th’ impression there did light;
      That since I run and rest as pleaseth love:
   The difference is, the satyr’s lips, my heart,
   He for a while, I evermore, have smart.


      A SATYR once did run away for dread,
   With sound of horn which he himself did blow:
      Fearing and feared, thus from himself he fled,
   Deeming strange evil in that he did not know.

      Such causeless fears when coward minds do take,
   It makes them fly that which they fain would have;
      As this poor beast, who did his rest forsake,
   Thinking not why, but how, himself to save.

      Ev’n thus might I, for doubts which I conceive
   Of mine own words, my own good hap betray;
      And thus might I, for fear of may be, leave
   The sweet pursuit of my desiréd prey.
      Better like I thy satyr, dearest Dyer,
      Who burnt his lips to kiss fair shining fire.


   MY mistress lowers, and saith I do not love:
      I do protest, and seek with service due,
   In humble mind, a constant faith to prove;
   But for all this, I cannot her remove
      From deep vain thought that I may not be true.

      If oaths might serve, ev’n by the Stygian lake,
   Which poets say the gods themselves do fear,
      I never did my vowéd word forsake:
      For why should I, whom free choice slave doth make,
   Else-what in face, than in my fancy bear?

      My Muse, therefore, for only thou canst tell,
   Tell me the cause of this my causeless woe?
      Tell, how ill thought disgraced my doing well?
      Tell, how my joys and hopes thus foully fell
   To so low ebb that wonted were to flow?

      O this it is, the knotted straw is found;
   In tender hearts, small things engender hate:
      A horse’s worth laid waste the Trojan ground;
      A three-foot stool in Greece made trumpets sound;
   An ass’s shade e’er now hath bred debate.

      If Greeks themselves were moved with so small cause,
   To twist those broils, which hardly would untwine:
      Should ladies fair be tied to such hard laws,
      As in their moods to take a ling’ring pause?
   I would it not, their metal is too fine.

      My hand doth not bear witness with my heart,
   She saith, because I make no woeful lays,
      To paint my living death and endless smart:
      And so, for one that felt god Cupid’s dart,
   She thinks I lead and live too merry days.

      Are poets then the only lovers true,
   Whose hearts are set on measuring a verse?
      Who think themselves well blest, if they renew
      Some good old dump that Chaucer’s mistress knew;
   And use but you for matters to rehearse.

      Then, good Apollo, do away thy bow:
   Take harp and sing in this our versing time,
      And in my brain some sacred humour flow,
      That all the earth my woes, sighs, tears may know;
   And see you not that I fall low to rhyme.

      As for my mirth, how could I but be glad,
   Whilst that methought I justly made my boast
      That only I the only mistress had?
      But now, if e’er my face with joy be clad,
   Think Hannibal did laugh when Carthage lost.

      Sweet lady, as for those whose sullen cheer,
   Compared to me, made me in lightness sound;
      Who, stoic-like, in cloudy hue appear;
      Who silence force to make their words more dear;
   Whose eyes seem chaste, because they look on ground:

      Believe them not, for physic true doth find,
      Choler adust is joyed in woman-kind.


                 _Uttered in a Pastoral Show at Wilton_.

   _Will_.  Dick, since we cannot dance, come, let a cheerful voice
   Show that we do not grudge at all when others do rejoice.

   _Dick_.  Ah Will, though I grudge not, I count it feeble glee,
   With sight made dim with daily tears another’s sport to see.
   Whoever lambkins saw, yet lambkins love to play,
   To play when that their lovéd dams are stolen or gone astray?
   If this in them be true, as true in men think I,
   A lustless song forsooth thinks he that hath more lust to cry.

   _Will_.  A time there is for all, my mother often says,
   When she, with skirts tucked very high, with girls at football plays
   When thou hast mind to weep, seek out some smoky room:
   Now let those lightsome sights we see thy darkness overcome.

   _Dick_.  What joy the joyful sun gives unto blearéd eyes;
   That comfort in these sports you like, my mind his comfort tries.

   _Will_.  What?  Is thy bagpipe broke, or are thy lambs miswent;
   Thy wallet or thy tar-box lost; or thy new raiment-rent?

   _Dick_.  I would it were but thus, for thus it were too well.

   _Will_.  Thou see’st my ears do itch at it: good Dick thy sorrow tell.

   _Dick_.  Hear then, and learn to sigh: a mistress I do serve,
   Whose wages make me beg the more, who feeds me till I starve;
   Whose livery is such, as most I freeze apparelled most,
   And looks so near unto my cure, that I must needs be lost.

   _Will_.  What?  These are riddles sure: art thou then bound to her?

   _Dick_.  Bound as I neither power have, nor would have power, to stir.

   _Will_.  Who bound thee?

   _Dick_.  Love, my lord.

   _Will_.  What witnesses thereto?

   _Dick_.  Faith in myself, and Worth in her, which no proof can undo.

   _Will_.  What seal?

   _Dick_.  My heart deep graven.

   _Will_.  Who made the band so fast?

   _Dick_.  Wonder that, by two so black eyes the glitt’ring stars be

   _Will_.  What keepeth safe thy band?

   _Dick_.  Remembrance is the chest
   Lock’d fast with knowing that she is of worldly things the best.

   _Will_.  Thou late of wages plain’dst: what wages may’sh thou have?

   _Dick_.  Her heavenly looks, which more and more do give me cause to

   _Will_.  If wages make you want, what food is that she gives?

   _Dick_.  Tear’s drink, sorrow’s meat, wherewith not I, but in me my
   death lives.

   _Will_.  What living get you then?

   _Dick_.  Disdain; but just disdain;
   So have I cause myself to plain, but no cause to complain.

   _Will_.  What care takes she for thee?

   _Dick_.  Her care is to prevent
   My freedom, with show of her beams, with virtue, my content.

   _Will_.  God shield us from such dames!  If so our dames be sped,
   The shepherds will grow lean I trow, their sheep will be ill-fed.
   But Dick, my counsel mark: run from the place of woo:
   The arrow being shot from far doth give the smaller blow.

   _Dick_.  Good Will, I cannot take thy good advice; before
   That foxes leave to steal, they find they die therefore.

   _Will_.  Then, Dick, let us go hence lest we great folks annoy:
   For nothing can more tedious be than plaint in time of joy.

   _Dick_.  Oh hence!  O cruel word! which even dogs do hate:
   But hence, even hence, I must needs go; such is my dogged fate.


             _To the tune of_ “_Wilhelmus van Nassau_,” _&c._

   WHO hath his fancy pleased,
      With fruits of happy sight,
   Let here his eyes be raised
      On Nature’s sweetest light;
   A light which doth dissever,
      And yet unite the eyes;
   A light which, dying, never
      Is cause the looker dies.

      She never dies, but lasteth
   In life of lover’s heart;
      He ever dies that wasteth
   In love his chiefest part.
      Thus is her life still guarded,
   In never dying faith;
      Thus is his death rewarded,
   Since she lives in his death.

      Look then and die, the pleasure
   Doth answer well the pain;
      Small loss of mortal treasure,
   Who may immortal gain.
      Immortal be her graces,
   Immortal is her mind;
      They, fit for heavenly places,
   This heaven in it doth bind.

      But eyes these beauties see not,
   Nor sense that grace descries;
      Yet eyes deprivéd be not
   From sight of her fair eyes:
      Which, as of inward glory
   They are the outward seal,
      So may they live still sorry,
   Which die not in that weal.

      But who hath fancies pleaséd,
   With fruits of happy sight,
      Let here his eyes be raiséd
   On Nature’s sweetest light.



   WHO hath e’er felt the change of love,
   And known those pangs that losers prove,
   May paint my face without seeing me,
   And write the state how my fancies be,
   The loathsome buds grown on Sorrow’s tree.

   But who by hearsay speaks, and hath not fully felt
   What kind of fires they be in which those spirits melt,
   Shall guess, and fail, what doth displease,
   Feeling my pulse, miss my disease.


   O no!  O no! trial only shows
   The bitter juice of forsaken woes;
   Where former bliss, present evils do stain;
   Nay, former bliss adds to present pain,
   While remembrance doth both states contain.
   Come, learners, then to me, the model of mishap,
   Ingulphéd in despair, slid down from Fortune’s lap;
   And, as you like my double lot,
   Tread in my steps, or follow not.


   For me, alas!  I am full resolved
   Those bands, alas! shall not be dissolved;
   Nor break my word, though reward come late;
   Nor fail my faith in my failing fate;
   Nor change in change, though change change my state:

   But always own myself, with eagle-eyed Truth, to fly
   Up to the sun, although the sun my wings do fry;
   For if those flames burn my desire,
   Yet shall I die in Phoenix’ fire.


   WHEN, to my deadly pleasure,
   When to my lively torment,
   Lady, mine eyes remainéd
   Joinéd, alas! to your beams.

   With violence of heavenly
   Beauty, tied to virtue;
   Reason abashed retiréd;
   Gladly my senses yielded.

   Gladly my senses yielding,
   Thus to betray my heart’s fort,
   Left me devoid of all life.

   They to the beamy suns went,
   Where, by the death of all deaths,
   Find to what harm they hastened.

   Like to the silly Sylvan,
   Burned by the light he best liked,
   When with a fire he first met.

   Yet, yet, a life to their death,
   Lady you have reservéd;
   Lady the life of all love.

   For though my sense be from me,
   And I be dead, who want sense,
   Yet do we both live in you.

   Turnéd anew, by your means,
   Unto the flower that aye turns,
   As you, alas! my sun bends.

   Thus do I fall to rise thus;
   Thus do I die to live thus;
   Changed to a change, I change not.

   Thus may I not be from you;
   Thus be my senses on you;
   Thus what I think is of you;
   Thus what I seek is in you;
   All what I am, it is you.


_To the tune of a Neapolitan song_, _which beginneth_, “_No_, _no_, _no_,

   NO, no, no, no, I cannot hate my foe,
      Although with cruel fire,
      First thrown on my desire,
   She sacks my rendered sprite;
      For so fair a flame embraces
      All the places,
   Where that heat of all heats springeth,
   That it bringeth
      To my dying heart some pleasure,
      Since his treasure
   Burneth bright in fairest light.  No, no, no, no.

   No, no, no, no, I cannot hate my foe,
      Although with cruel fire,
      First thrown on my desire,
   She sacks my rendered sprite;
      Since our lives be not immortal,
      But to mortal
   Fetters tied, do wait the hour
   Of death’s power,
      They have no cause to be sorry
      Who with glory
   End the way, where all men stay.  No, no, no, no.

   No, no, no, no, I cannot hate my foe,
      Although with cruel fire,
      First thrown on my desire,
   She sacks my rendered sprite;
      No man doubts, whom beauty killeth,
      Fair death feeleth,
   And in whom fair death proceedeth,
   Glory breedeth:
      So that I, in her beams dying,
      Glory trying,
   Though in pain, cannot complain.  No, no, no, no.


                 _To the tune of a Neapolitan Villanel_.

   ALL my sense thy sweetness gained;
   Thy fair hair my heart enchained;
   My poor reason thy words moved,
   So that thee, like heaven, I loved.

   Fa, la, la, leridan, dan, dan, dan, deridan:
      Dan, dan, dan, deridan, deridan, dei:
   While to my mind the outside stood,
   For messenger of inward good.

   Nor thy sweetness sour is deemed;
   Thy hair not worth a hair esteemed;
   Reason hath thy words removed,
   Finding that but words they proved.

   Fa, la, la, leridan, dan, dan, dan, deridan,
      Dan, dan, dan, deridan, deridan, dei:
   For no fair sign can credit win,
   If that the substance fail within.

   No more in thy sweetness glory,
   For thy knitting hair be sorry;
   Use thy words but to bewail thee
   That no more thy beams avail thee;
         Dan, dan,
         Dan, dan,
   Lay not thy colours more to view,
   Without the picture be found true.

   Woe to me, alas, she weepeth!
   Fool! in me what folly creepeth?
   Was I to blaspheme enraged,
   Where my soul I have engaged?
         Dan, dan,
         Dan, dan,
   And wretched I must yield to this;
   The fault I blame her chasteness is.

   Sweetness! sweetly pardon folly;
   Tie me, hair, your captive wholly:
   Words!  O words of heavenly knowledge!
   Know, my words their faults acknowledge;
         Dan, dan,
         Dan, dan,
   And all my life I will confess,
   The less I love, I live the less.


_From_ “_La Diana de Monte-Mayor_,” _in Spanish_: _where Sireno_, _a
shepherd_, _whose mistress Diana had utterly forsaken him_, _pulling out
a little of her hair_, _wrapped about with green silk_, _to the hair he
thus bewailed himself_.

   WHAT changes here, O hair,
      I see, since I saw you!
   How ill fits you this green to wear,
      For hope, the colour due!
   Indeed, I well did hope,
      Though hope were mixed with fear,
   No other shepherd should have scope
      Once to approach this hair.

   Ah hair! how many days
      My Dian made me show,
   With thousand pretty childish plays,
      If I ware you or no:
   Alas, how oft with tears,—
      O tears of guileful breast!—
   She seeméd full of jealous fears,
      Whereat I did but jest.

   Tell me, O hair of gold,
      If I then faulty be,
   That trust those killing eyes I would,
      Since they did warrant me?
   Have you not seen her mood,
      What streams of tears she spent,
   ’Till that I sware my faith so stood,
      As her words had it bent?

   Who hath such beauty seen
      In one that changeth so?
   Or where one’s love so constant been,
      Who ever saw such woe?
   Ah, hair! are you not grieved
      To come from whence you be,
   Seeing how once you saw I lived,
      To see me as you see?

   On sandy bank of late,
      I saw this woman sit;
   Where, “Sooner die than change my state,”
      She with her finger writ:
   Thus my belief was staid,
      Behold Love’s mighty hand
   On things were by a woman said,
      And written in the sand.

_The same Sireno in_ “_Monte-Mayor_,” _holding his mistress’s glass
before her_, _and looking upon her while she viewed herself_, _thus

   Of this high grace, with bliss conjoined,
      No farther debt on me is laid,
   Since that in self-same metal coined,
      Sweet lady, you remain well paid;

   For if my place give me great pleasure,
   Having before my nature’s treasure,
      In face and eyes unmatchéd being,
      You have the same in my hands, seeing
   What in your face mine eyes do measure.

   Nor think the match unevenly made,
      That of those beams in you do tarry,
   The glass to you but gives a shade,
      To me mine eyes the true shape carry;
         For such a thought most highly prized,
         Which ever hath Love’s yoke despised,
      Better than one captived perceiveth,
      Though he the lively form receiveth,
         The other sees it but disguised.


   THE dart, the beams, the sting, so strong I prove,
      Which my chief part doth pass through, parch, and tie,
   That of the stroke, the heat, and knot of love,
      Wounded, inflamed, knit to the death, I die.

   Hardened and cold, far from affection’s snare
      Was once my mind, my temper, and my life;
   While I that sight, desire, and vow forbare,
      Which to avoid, quench, lose, nought boasted strife.

   Yet will not I grief, ashes, thraldom change
      For others’ ease, their fruit, or free estate;
   So brave a shot, dear fire, and beauty strange,
      Bid me pierce, burn, and bind, long time and late,
   And in my wounds, my flames, and bonds, I find
   A salve, fresh air, and bright contented mind.

                                * * * * *

   VIRTUE, beauty, and speech, did strike, wound, charm,
      My heart, eyes, ears, with wonder, love, delight,
   First, second, last, did bind, enforce, and arm,
      His works, shows, suits, with wit, grace, and vows’ might,

   Thus honour, liking, trust, much, far, and deep,
      Held, pierced, possessed, my judgment, sense, and will,
   Till wrongs, contempt, deceit, did grow, steal, creep,
      Bands, favour, faith, to break, defile, and kill,

   Then grief, unkindness, proof, took, kindled, taught,
      Well-grounded, noble, due, spite, rage, disdain:
   But ah, alas! in vain my mind, sight, thought,
      Doth him, his face, his words, leave, shun, refrain.
   For nothing, time, nor place, can loose, quench, ease
   Mine own embracéd, sought, knot, fire, disease.


   FAINT amorist, what, dost thou think
   To taste Love’s honey, and not drink
   One dram of gall? or to devour
   A world of sweet, and taste no sour?
   Dost thou ever think to enter
   Th’ Elysian fields, that dar’st not venture
   In Charon’s barge? a lover’s mind
   Must use to sail with every wind.
   He that loves and fears to try,
   Learns his mistress to deny.
   Doth she chide thee? ’tis to show it,
   That thy coldness makes her do it:
   Is she silent? is she mute?
   Silence fully grants thy suit:
   Doth she pout, and leave the room?
   Then she goes to bid thee come:
   Is she sick? why then be sure,
   She invites thee to the cure:
   Doth she cross thy suit with “No?”
   Tush, she loves to hear thee woo:
   Doth she call the faith of man
   In question?  Nay, she loves thee than;
   And if e’er she makes a blot,
   She’s lost if that thou hit’st her not.
   He that after ten denials,
   Dares attempt no farther trials,
   Hath no warrant to acquire
   The dainties of his chaste desire.


   SINCE shunning pain, I ease can never find;
      Since bashful dread seeks where he knows me harmed;
      Since will is won, and stoppéd ears are charmed;
   Since force doth faint, and sight doth make me blind;
   Since loosing long, the faster still I bind;
      Since naked sense can conquer reason armed;
      Since heart, in chilling fear, with ice is warmed;
   In fine, since strife of thought but mars the mind,
      I yield, O Love, unto thy loathed yoke,
   Yet craving law of arms, whose rule doth teach,
      That, hardly used, who ever prison broke,
   In justice quit, of honour made no breach:
      Whereas, if I a grateful guardian have,
      Thou art my lord, and I thy vowéd slave.

   When Love puffed up with rage of high disdain,
      Resolved to make me pattern of his might,
      Like foe, whose wits inclined to deadly spite,
   Would often kill, to breed more feeling pain;
   He would not, armed with beauty, only reign
      On those affects which easily yield to sight;
      But virtue sets so high, that reason’s light,
   For all his strife can only bondage gain:
      So that I live to pay a mortal fee,
   Dead palsy-sick of all my chiefest parts,
      Like those whom dreams make ugly monsters see,
   And can cry help with naught but groans and starts:
      Longing to have, having no wit to wish,
      To starving minds such is god Cupid’s dish.


_To the tune of_ “_Non credo gia che piu infelice amante_.”

   THE nightingale, as soon as April bringeth
      Unto her rested sense a perfect waking,
   While late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth,
      Sings out her woes, a thorn her song-book making;
      And mournfully bewailing,
   Her throat in tunes expresseth
   What grief her breast oppresseth,
      For Tereus’ force on her chaste will prevailing.
   O Philomela fair!  O take some gladness,
   That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness:
   Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth;
   Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.


      Alas! she hath no other cause of anguish,
   But Tereus’ love, on her by strong hand wroken,
      Wherein she suffering, all her spirits languish,
   Full womanlike, complains her will was broken,
      But I, who daily craving,
   Cannot have to content me,
   Have more cause to lament me,
      Since wanting is more woe than too much having.
   O Philomela fair!  O take some gladness,
   That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness:
   Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth;
   Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.


                 _To the tune of_ “_Basciami vita mia_.”

   SLEEP, baby mine, Desire’s nurse, Beauty, singeth;
      Thy cries, O baby, set mine head on aching:
      The babe cries, “’Way, thy love doth keep me waking.”

   Lully, lully, my babe, Hope cradle bringeth
      Unto my children alway good rest taking:
      The babe cries, “Way, thy love doth keep me waking.”

   Since, baby mine, from me thy watching springeth,
      Sleep then a little, pap Content is making;
      The babe cries, “Nay, for that abide I waking.”


   THE scourge of life, and death’s extreme disgrace;
      The smoke of hell, the monster calléd Pain:
   Long shamed to be accursed in every place,
      By them who of his rude resort complain;
   Like crafty wretch, by time and travel taught,
      His ugly evil in others’ good to hide;
   Late harbours in her face, whom Nature wrought
      As treasure-house where her best gifts do bide;
   And so by privilege of sacred seat,
      A seat where beauty shines and virtue reigns,
   He hopes for some small praise, since she hath great,
      Within her beams wrapping his cruel stains.
   Ah, saucy Pain, let not thy terror last,
   More loving eyes she draws, more hate thou hast.


   Woe! woe to me, on me return the smart:
      My burning tongue hath bred my mistress pain?
   For oft in pain, to pain my painful heart,
      With her due praise did of my state complain.
   I praised her eyes, whom never chance doth move;
      Her breath, which makes a sour answer sweet;
   Her milken breasts, the nurse of child-like love;
      Her legs, O legs! her aye well-stepping feet:
   Pain heard her praise, and full of inward fire,
      (First sealing up my heart as prey of his)
   He flies to her, and, boldened with desire,
      Her face, this age’s praise, the thief doth kiss.
   O Pain!  I now recant the praise I gave,
   And swear she is not worthy thee to have.


      Thou pain, the only guest of loathed Constraint;
   The child of Curse, man’s weakness foster-child;
      Brother to Woe, and father of Complaint:
   Thou Pain, thou hated Pain, from heaven exiled,
      How hold’st thou her whose eyes constraint doth fear,
   Whom cursed do bless; whose weakness virtues arm;
      Who others’ woes and plaints can chastely bear:
   In whose sweet heaven angels of high thoughts swarm?
      What courage strange hath caught thy caitiff heart?
   Fear’st not a face that oft whole hearts devours?
      Or art thou from above bid play this part,
   And so no help ’gainst envy of those powers?
      If thus, alas, yet while those parts have woe;
      So stay her tongue, that she no more say, “O.”


      And have I heard her say, “O cruel pain!”
   And doth she know what mould her beauty bears?
      Mourns she in truth, and thinks that others feign?
   Fears she to feel, and feels not others’ fears?
   Or doth she think all pain the mind forbears?
      That heavy earth, not fiery spirits, may plain?
   That eyes weep worse than heart in bloody tears?
      That sense feels more than what doth sense contain?
   No, no, she is too wise, she knows her face
      Hath not such pain as it makes others have:
   She knows the sickness of that perfect place
      Hath yet such health, as it my life can save.
   But this, she thinks, our pain high cause excuseth,
   Where her, who should rule pain, false pain abuseth.

                                * * * * *

   LIKE as the dove, which seeléd up doth fly,
      Is neither freed, nor yet to service bound;
   But hopes to gain some help by mounting high,
      Till want of force do force her fall to ground:
   Right so my mind, caught by his guiding eye,
      And thence cast off where his sweet hurt he found,
   Hath neither leave to live, nor doom to die;
      Nor held in evil, nor suffered to be sound.
   But with his wings of fancies up he goes,
      To high conceits, whose fruits are oft but small;
   Till wounded, blind, and wearied spirit, lose
      Both force to fly, and knowledge where to fall:
   O happy dove, if she no bondage tried!
   More happy I, might I in bondage bide!

                                * * * * *

   IN wonted walks, since wonted fancies change,
      Some cause there is, which of strange cause doth rise:
   For in each thing whereto mine eye doth range,
      Part of my pain, me-seems, engravéd lies.
   The rocks, which were of constant mind the mark,
      In climbing steep, now hard refusal show;
   The shading woods seem now my sun to dark,
      And stately hills disdain to look so low.
   The restful caves now restless visions give;
      In dales I see each way a hard ascent:
   Like late-mown meads, late cut from joy I live;
      Alas, sweet brooks do in my tears augment:
   Rocks, woods, hills, caves, dales, meads, brooks, answer me;
   Infected minds infect each thing they see.
   IF I could think how these my thoughts to leave,
      Or thinking still, my thoughts might have good end;
   If rebel sense would reason’s law receive;
      Or reason foiled, would not in vain contend:
   Then might I think what thoughts were best to think:
   Then might I wisely swim, or gladly sink.

   If either you would change your cruel heart,
      Or, cruel still, time did your beauties stain:
   If from my soul this love would once depart,
      Or for my love some love I might obtain;
   Then might I hope a change, or ease of mind,
   By your good help, or in myself, to find.

   But since my thoughts in thinking still are spent.
      With reason’s strife, by senses overthrown;
   You fairer still, and still more cruel bent,
      I loving still a love that loveth none:
   I yield and strive, I kiss and curse the pain,
   Thought, reason, sense, time, You, and I, maintain.


   OFT have I mused, but now at length I find
      Why those that die, men say, they do depart:
   Depart: a word so gentle to my mind,
      Weakly did seem to paint Death’s ugly dart.

   But now the stars, with their strange course, do bind
      Me one to leave, with whom I leave my heart;
   I hear a cry of spirits faint and blind,
      That parting thus, my chiefest part I part.

   Part of my life, the loathéd part to me,
      Lives to impart my weary clay some breath;
   But that good part wherein all comforts be,
      Now dead, doth show departure is a death:

   Yea, worse than death, death parts both woe and joy,
   From joy I part, still living in annoy.

                                * * * * *

   FINDING those beams, which I must ever love,
      To mar my mind, and with my hurt to please,
   I deemed it best, some absence for to prove,
      If farther place might further me to ease.

   My eyes thence drawn, where livéd all their light,
      Blinded forthwith in dark despair did lie,
   Like to the mole, with want of guiding sight,
      Deep plunged in earth, deprivéd of the sky.

   In absence blind, and wearied with that woe,
      To greater woes, by presence, I return;
   Even as the fly, which to the flame doth go,
      Pleased with the light, that his small corse doth burn:

   Fair choice I have, either to live or die
   A blinded mole, or else a burnéd fly.



   NEAR Wilton sweet, huge heaps of stones are found,
      But so confused, that neither any eye
      Can count them just, nor Reason reason try,
   What force brought them to so unlikely ground.

   To stranger weights my mind’s waste soil is bound,
      Of passion-hills, reaching to Reason’s sky,
   From Fancy’s earth, passing all number’s bound,
      Passing all guess, whence into me should fly
   So mazed a mass; or, if in me it grows,
   A simple soul should breed so mixéd woes.


      The Bruertons have a lake, which, when the sun
   Approaching warms, not else, dead logs up sends
   From hideous depth; which tribute, when it ends,
      Sore sign it is the lord’s last thread is spun.

      My lake is Sense, whose still streams never run
   But when my sun her shining twins there bends;
      Then from his depth with force in her begun,
   Long drownéd hopes to watery eyes it lends;
      But when that fails my dead hopes up to take,
      Their master is fair warned his will to make.


      We have a fish, by strangers much admired,
   Which caught, to cruel search yields his chief part:
   With gall cut out, closed up again by art,
      Yet lives until his life be new required.

      A stranger fish myself, not yet expired,
   Tho’, rapt with Beauty’s hook, I did impart
      Myself unto th’ anatomy desired,
   Instead of gall, leaving to her my heart:
      Yet live with thoughts closed up, ’till that she will,
      By conquest’s right, instead of searching, kill.


      Peak hath a cave, whose narrow entries find
   Large rooms within where drops distil amain:
   Till knit with cold, though there unknown remain,
      Deck that poor place with alabaster lined.

      Mine eyes the strait, the roomy cave, my mind;
   Whose cloudy thoughts let fall an inward rain
      Of sorrow’s drops, till colder reason bind
   Their running fall into a constant vein
      Of truth, far more than alabaster pure,
      Which, though despised, yet still doth truth endure.


      A field there is, where, if a stake oe prest
   Deep in the earth, what hath in earth receipt,
   Is changed to stone in hardness, cold, and weight,
      The wood above doth soon consuming rest.

      The earth her ears; the stake is my request;
   Of which, how much may pierce to that sweet seat,
      To honour turned, doth dwell in honour’s nest,
   Keeping that form, though void of wonted heat;
      But all the rest, which fear durst not apply,
      Failing themselves, with withered conscience die.


      Of ships by shipwreck cast on Albion’s coast,
   Which rotting on the rocks, their death to die:
   From wooden bones and blood of pitch doth fly
      A bird, which gets more life than ship had lost.

      My ship, Desire, with wind of Lust long tost,
   Brake on fair cliffs of constant Chastity;
      Where plagued for rash attempt, gives up his ghost;
   So deep in seas of virtue, beauties lie:
      But of this death flies up the purest love,
      Which seeming less, yet nobler life doth move.


      These wonders England breeds; the last remains—
   A lady, in despite of Nature, chaste,
   On whom all love, in whom no love is placed,
      Where Fairness yields to Wisdom’s shortest reins.

      A humble pride, a scorn that favour stains;
   A woman’s mould, but like an angel graced;
   An angel’s mind, but in a woman cased;
      A heaven on earth, or earth that heaven contains:
   Now thus this wonder to myself I frame;
   She is the cause that all the rest I am.

                                * * * * *

   THOU blind man’s mark; thou fool’s self-chosen snare,
      Fond fancy’s scum, and dregs of scattered thought:
   Band of all evils; cradle of causeless care;
      Thou web of will, whose end is never wrought:

      Desire! Desire!  I have too dearly bought,
   With price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware;
      Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought
   Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare;

      But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought;
   In vain thou mad’st me to vain things aspire;
   In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire:
      For Virtue hath this better lesson taught,
   Within myself to seek my only hire,
   Desiring nought but how to kill Desire.


   LEAVE me, O love! which reachest but to dust;
      And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things:
   Grow rich in that which never taketh rust;
      Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings.

   Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
      To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be,
   Which breaks the clouds, and opens forth the light
      That doth both shine, and give us sight to see.

   O take fast hold! let that light be thy guide,
      In this small course which birth draws out to death,
   And think how evil becometh him to slide,
      Who seeketh heaven, and comes from heavenly breath.
         Then farewell, world, thy uttermost I see,
         Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.



{1}  _Edward Wotton_, elder brother of Sir Henry Wotton.  He was knighted
by Elizabeth in 1592, and made Comptroller of her Household.  Observe the
playfulness in Sidney’s opening and close of a treatise written
throughout in plain, manly English without Euphuism, and strictly

{2}  Here the introduction ends, and the argument begins with its § 1.
_Poetry the first Light-giver_.

{3}  A fable from the “Hetamythium” of Laurentius Abstemius, Professor of
Belles Lettres at Urbino, and Librarian to Duke Guido Ubaldo under the
Pontificate of Alexander VI. (1492–1503).

{4}  Pliny says (“Nat. Hist.,” lib. xi., cap. 62) that the young vipers,
impatient to be born, break through the side of their mother, and so kill

{5}  § 2.  _Borrowed from by Philosophers_.

{6}  Timæus, the Pythagorean philosopher of Locri, and the Athenian
Critias are represented by Plato as having listened to the discourse of
Socrates on a Republic.  Socrates calls on them to show such a state in
action.  Critias will tell of the rescue of Europe by the ancient
citizens of Attica, 10,000 years before, from an inroad of countless
invaders who came from the vast island of Atlantis, in the Western Ocean;
a struggle of which record was preserved in the temple of Naith or Athené
at Sais, in Egypt, and handed down, through Solon, by family tradition to
Critias.  But first Timæus agrees to expound the structure of the
universe; then Critias, in a piece left unfinished by Plato, proceeds to
show an ideal society in action against pressure of a danger that seems

{7}  Plato’s “Republic,” book ii.

{8}  § 3.  _Borrowed from by Historians_.

{9}  § 4.  _Honoured by the Romans as Sacred and Prophetic_.

{10}  § 5.  _And really sacred and prophetic in the Psalms of David_.

{11}  § 6.  _By the Greeks_, _Poets were honoured with the name of

{12}  _Poetry is the one creative art_.  _Astronomers and others repeat
what they find_.

{13}  _Poets improve Nature_.

{14}  _And idealize man_.

{15}  _Here a Second Part of the Essay begins_.

{16}  § 1.  Poetry defined.

{17}  § 2.  _Its kinds_.  _a._  _Divine_.

{18}  _b._  _Philosophical_, _which is perhaps too imitative_.

{19}  Marcus Manilius wrote under Tiberius a metrical treatise on
Astronomy, of which five books on the fixed stars remain.

{20}  _c._  _Poetry proper_.

{21}  § 3.  _Subdivisions of Poetry proper_.

{22}  _Its essence is in the thought_, _not in apparelling of verse_.

{23}  _Heliodorus_ was Bishop of Tricca, in Thessaly, and lived in the
fourth century.  His story of Theagenes and Chariclea, called the
“Æthiopica,” was a romantic tale in Greek which was, in Elizabeth’s
reign, translated into English.

{24}  _The Poet’s Work and Parts_.  § 1. WORK: _What Poetry does for us_.

{25}  _Their clay lodgings_—

    “Such harmony is in immortal souls;
    But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
    Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.”

                        (Shakespeare, “Merchant of Venice,” act v., sc. 1)

{26}  _Poetry best advances the end of all earthly learning_, _virtuous

{27}  _Its advantage herein over Moral Philosophy_.

{28}  _Its advantage herein over History_.

{29}  “All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authórising thy trespass with compare.”

                                                 Shakespeare, “Sonnet” 35.

{30}  “Witness of the times, light of truth, life of memory, mistress of
life, messenger of antiquity.”—Cicero, “De Oratore.”

{31}  _In what manner the Poet goes beyond Philosopher_, _Historian_,
_and all others_ (_bating comparison with the Divine_).

{32}  _He is beyond the Philosopher_.

{33}  Horace’s “Ars Poetica,” lines 372–3.  But Horace wrote “Non
homines, non Di”—“Neither men, gods, nor lettered columns have admitted
mediocrity in poets.”

{34}  _The moral common-places_.  Common Place, “Locus communis,” was a
term used in old rhetoric to represent testimonies or pithy sentences of
good authors which might be used for strengthening or adorning a
discourse; but said Keckermann, whose Rhetoric was a text-book in the
days of James I. and Charles I., “Because it is impossible thus to read
through all authors, there are books that give students of eloquence what
they need in the succinct form of books of Common Places, like that
collected by Stobæus out of Cicero, Seneca, Terence, Aristotle; but
especially the book entitled ‘Polyanthea,’ provides short and effective
sentences apt to any matter.”  Frequent resort to the Polyanthea caused
many a good quotation to be hackneyed; the term of rhetoric, “a
common-place,” came then to mean a good saying made familiar by incessant
quoting, and then in common speech, any trite saying good or bad, but
commonly without wit in it.

{35}  _Thus far Aristotle_.  The whole passage in the “Poetics” runs: “It
is not by writing in verse or prose that the Historian and Poet are
distinguished.  The work of Herodotus might be versified; but it would
still be a species of History, no less with metre than without.  They are
distinguished by this, that the one relates what has been, the other what
might be.  On this account Poetry is more philosophical, and a more
excellent thing than History, for Poetry is chiefly conversant about
general truth; History about particular.  In what manner, for example,
any person of a certain character would speak or act, probably or
necessarily, this is general; and this is the object of Poetry, even
while it makes use of particular names.  But what Alcibiades did, or what
happened to him, this is particular truth.”

{36}  Justinus, who lived in the second century, made an epitome of the
history of the Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, Macedonian, and Roman Empires,
from Trogus Pompeius, who lived in the time of Augustus.

{37}  _Dares Phrygius_ was supposed to have been a priest of Vulcan, who
was in Troy during the siege, and the Phrygian Iliad ascribed to him as
early as the time of Ælian, A.D. 230, was supposed, therefore, to be
older than Homer’s.

{38}  _Quintus Curtius_, a Roman historian of uncertain date, who wrote
the history of Alexander the Great in ten books, of which two are lost
and others defective.

{39}  Not knowledge but practice.

{40}  _The Poet Monarch of all Human Sciences_.

{41}  In “Love’s Labour’s Lost” a resemblance has been fancied between
this passage and Rosalind’s description of Biron, and the jest:—

    “Which his fair tongue—conceit’s expositor—
    Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
    That agéd ears play truant at his tables,
    And younger hearings are quite ravishéd,
    So sweet and voluble is his discourse.”

{42}  Virgil’s “Æneid,” Book xii.:—

    “And shall this ground fainthearted dastard
             Turnus flying view?
    Is it so vile a thing to die?”

                                             (Phaer’s Translation [1573].)

{43}  _Instances of the power of the Poet’s work_.

{44}  _Defectuous_.  This word, from the French “defectueux,” is used
twice in the “Apologie for Poetrie.”

{45}  § II.  _The_ PARTS _of Poetry_.

{46}  _Can Pastoral be condemned_?

{47}  The close of Virgil’s seventh Eclogue—Thyrsis was vanquished, and
Corydon crowned with lasting glory.

{48}  _Or Elegiac_?

{49}  _Or Iambic_? _or Satiric_?

{50}  From the first Satire of Persius, line 116, in a description of
Homer’s satire:

    “Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
    Tangit, et admissus circum præcordia ludit,” &c.

Shrewd Flaccus touches each vice in his laughing friend.  Dryden thus
translated the whole passage:—

    “Unlike in method, with concealed design
    Did crafty Horace his low numbers join;
    And, with a sly insinuating grace
    Laughed at his friend, and looked him in the face:
    Would raise a blush where secret vice he found;
    And tickle, while he gently probed the wound;
    With seeming innocence the crowd beguiled,
    But made the desperate passes while he smiled.”

{51}  From the end of the eleventh of Horace’s epistles (Lib. 1):

    “Coelum non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt,
    Strenua nos exercet inertia; navibus atque
    Quadrigis petimus bene vivere.  Quod petis, hic est,
    Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit æquus.”

    They change their skies but not their mind who run across the seas;
    We toil in laboured idleness, and seek to live at ease
    With force of ships and four horse teams.  That which you seek is
    At Ulubræ, unless your mind fail to be calm and clear.

“At Ulubræ” was equivalent to saying in the dullest corner of the world,
or anywhere.  Ulubræ was a little town probably in Campania, a Roman
Little Pedlington.  Thomas Carlyle may have had this passage in mind when
he gave to the same thought a grander form in Sartor Resartus: “May we
not say that the hour of spiritual enfranchisement is even this?  When
your ideal world, wherein the whole man has been dimly struggling and
inexpressibly languishing to work, becomes revealed and thrown open, and
you discover with amazement enough, like the Lothario in Wilhelm Meister,
that your America is here or nowhere.  The situation that has not its
duty, its ideal, was never occupied by man.  Yes, here, in this poor,
miserable hampered actual wherein thou even now standest, here or
nowhere, is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom, believe, live, and be free.
Fool! the Ideal is in thyself, the impediment too is in thyself.  Thy
condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out of.
What matter whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the form thou
give it be heroic, be poetic?  O thou that pinest in the imprisonment of
the actual, and criest bitterly to the gods for a kingdom wherein to rule
and create, know this of a truth, the thing thou seekest is already with
thee, here or nowhere, couldest thou only see.”

{52}  Or Comic?

{53}  _In pistrinum_.  In the pounding-mill (usually worked by horses or

{54}  _Or Tragic_?

{55}  _The old song of Percy and Douglas_, Chevy Chase in its first form.

{56}  _Or the Heroic_?

{57}  Epistles I. ii. 4.  Better than Chrysippus and Crantor.  They were
both philosophers, Chrysippus a subtle stoic, Crantor the first
commentator upon Plato.

{58}  _Summary of the argument thus far_.

{59}  _Objections stated and met_.

{60}  Cornelius Agrippa’s book, “De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum
et Artium,” was first published in 1532; Erasmus’s “Moriæ Encomium” was
written in a week, in 1510, and went in a few months through seven

{61}  _The objection to rhyme and metre_.

{62}  The first of these sentences is from Horace (Epistle I. xviii. 69):
“Fly from the inquisitive man, for he is a babbler.”  The second, “While
each pleases himself we are a credulous crowd,” seems to be varied from
Ovid (Fasti, iv. 311):—

    “Conscia mens recti famæ mendacia risit:
    Sed nos in vitium credula turba sumus.”

A mind conscious of right laughs at the falsehoods of fame but towards
vice we are a credulous crowd.

{63}  _The chief objections_.

{64}  _That time might be better spent_.

{65}  Beg the question.

{66}  _That poetry is the mother of lies_.

{67}  _That poetry is the nurse of abuse_, _infecting us with wanton and
pestilent desires_.

{68}  _Rampire_, rampart, the Old French form of “rempart,” was “rempar,”
from “remparer,” to fortify.

{69}  “I give him free leave to be foolish.”  A variation from the line
(Sat. I. i. 63), “Quid facias illi? jubeas miserum esse libenter.”

{70}  _That Plato banished poets from his ideal Republic_.

{71}  Which authority certain barbarous and insipid writers would wrest
into meaning that poets were to be thrust out of a state.

{72}  Ion is a rhapsodist, in dialogue with Socrates, who cannot
understand why it is that his thoughts flow abundantly when he talks of
Homer.  “I can explain,” says Socrates; “your talent in expounding Homer
is not an art acquired by system and method, otherwise it would have been
applicable to other poets besides.  It is a special gift, imparted to you
by Divine power and inspiration.  The like is true of the poet you
expound.  His genius does not spring from art, system, or method: it is a
special gift emanating from the inspiration of the Muses.  A poet is
light, airy, holy person, who cannot compose verses at all so long as his
reason remains within him.  The Muses take away his reason, substituting
in place of it their own divine inspiration and special impulse . . .
Like prophets and deliverers of oracles, these poets have their reason
taken away, and become the servants of the gods.  It is not they who,
bereft of their reason, speak in such sublime strains, it is the god who
speaks to us, and speaks through them.”  George Grote, from whose volumes
on Plato I quote this translation of the passage, placed “Ion” among the
genuine dialogues of Plato.

{73}  _Guards_, trimmings or facings.

{74}  _The Second Summary_.

{75}  _Causes of Defect in English Poetry_.

{76}  From the invocation at the opening of Virgil’s _Æneid_ (line 12),
“Muse, bring to my mind the causes of these things: what divinity was
injured . . . that one famous for piety should suffer thus.”

{77}  The Chancellor, Michel de l’Hôpital, born in 1505, who joined to
his great political services (which included the keeping of the
Inquisition out of France, and long labour to repress civil war) great
skill in verse.  He died in 1573.

{78}  Whose heart-strings the Titan (Prometheus) fastened with a better
clay.  (Juvenal, _Sat._ xiv. 35).  Dryden translated the line, with its

    “Some sons, indeed, some very few, we see
    Who keep themselves from this infection free,
    Whom gracious Heaven for nobler ends designed,
    Their looks erected, and their clay refined.”

{79}  The orator is made, the poet born.

{80}  What you will; the first that comes.

{81}  “Whatever I shall try to write will be verse.”  Sidney quotes from
memory, and adapts to his context, Tristium IV. x. 26.

    “Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
    Et quod temptabam dicere, versus erat.”

{82}  _His_ for “its” here as throughout; the word “its” not being yet
introduced into English writing.

{83}  _Defects in the Drama_.  It should be remembered that this was
written when the English drama was but twenty years old, and Shakespeare,
aged about seventeen, had not yet come to London.  The strongest of
Shakespeare’s precursors had not yet begun to write for the stage.
Marlowe had not yet written; and the strength that was to come of the
freedom of the English drama had yet to be shown.

{84}  There was no scenery on the Elizabethan stage.

{85}  Messenger.

{86}  From the egg.

{87}  _Bias_, slope; French “bìais.”

{88}  Juvenal, _Sat._ iii., lines 152–3.  Which Samuel Johnson finely
paraphrased in his “London:”

    “Of all the griefs that harass the distrest,
    Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest.”

{89}  George Bachanan (who died in 1582, aged seventy-six) had written in
earlier life four Latin tragedies, when Professor of Humanities at
Bordeaux, with Montaigne in his class.

{90}  _Defects in Lyric Poetry_.

{91}  _Defects in Diction_.  This being written only a year or two after
the publication of “Euphues,” represents that style of the day which was
not created but represented by the book from which it took the name of

{92}  Nizolian paper-books, are commonplace books of quotable passages,
so called because an Italian grammarian, Marius Nizolius, born at
Bersello in the fifteenth century, and one of the scholars of the
Renaissance in the sixteenth, was one of the first producers of such
volumes.  His contribution was an alphabetical folio dictionary of
phrases from Cicero: “Thesaurus Ciceronianus, sive Apparatus Linguæ
Latinæ e scriptis Tullii Ciceronis collectus.”

{93}  “He lives and wins, nay, comes to the Senate, nay, comes to the
Senate,” &c.

{94}  Pounded.  Put in the pound, when found astray.

{95}  _Capacities of the English Language_.

{96}  _Metre and Rhyme_.

{97}  _Last Summary and playful peroration_.

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