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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 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 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 noble fable of the Atlantic Island, which was continued by Plato. 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, and interlacing mere tales, as Gyges? ring and
others; which, who knows not to be flowers of Poetry, did never walk into Apollo's garden.
• And 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 intitled 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 mouths of great kings and captains, which it is certain they never pronounced.
Poesy, therefore, is an art of imitation ; for so Aristotle termeth it in the word Modenais, that is to say, ' a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth: to speak metaphorically, 'a speaking picture; with this end, to teach and delight.
• Of this have been three general kinds. The chief, both in antiquity and excellency, were they that did imitate the unconceivable excellences of God: such were David in his 'Psalms;' Solomon in his 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 full 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 psálms when they are merry; and I know
is used with the fruit of comfort by some, when in sorrowful pång's of their death-bringing sins they find the consolation of the never-leaving goodness.
• The 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 and Pontanus; or historical, as Lucan; which who mislike, the fault is in their judgement quite out of taste, and not in the sweet food of sweetly-uttered knowledge.
• But because this second sort is wrapped within the fold of the proposed subject, and takes not the free course of his own inventions; whether they properly be Poets or no, let grammarians dispute: and go to the third, 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 third 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 be subdivided into sundry more special de nominations : the most notable be the Heroic, Lyric, Tragic, Comic, Satiric, lambic, Elegiac, Pastoral, and certain others: some of these being termed according to the matter they deal with; some by the sort of verse they liked 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 apparelled 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. For Xenophon, who did imitate so excellently as to give us effigiem iusti imperii, “the portraiture of a just empire,' under the name of Cyrus (as Cicero saith of him) made therein an absolute heroical poem. So did Heliodorus, in his sugаred invention of that picture of love in 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 chanceably fall from the mouth, but piecing each syllable of each word by just proportion, according to the dignity of the subject.
• Now therefore it shall not be amiss, first, to weigh 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 judgement, and enlarging of conceits 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 claylodgings 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 of 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 inquiring