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The Arte of English Poesie   By: (-1590)

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Contriued into three Bookes: The first of Poets and Poesie, the second of Proportion, the third of Ornament.

[Illustration: AN CHORA SPEI (shield with hand coming out of a cloud and holding onto an anchor entwined with vine)]


Printed by Richard Field, dwelling in the black Friers, neere Ludgate. 1589.


Printer wisheth health and prosperitie, with the commandement and vse of his continuall seruice.

This Booke (right Honorable) coming to my handes, with his bare title without any Authours name or any other ordinarie addresse, I doubted how well it might become me to make you a present thereof, seeming by many expresse passages in the same at large, that it was by the Authour intended to our Soueraigne Lady the Queene, and for her recreation and seruice chiefly deuised, in which case to make any other person her highnes partener in the honour of his guift it could not stand with my dutie, nor be without some prejudice to her Maiesties interest and his merrite. Perceyuing besides the title to purport so slender a subiect, as nothing almost could be more discrepant from the grauitie of your yeeres and Honorable function, whose contemplations are euery houre more seriously employed upon the publicke administration and services: I thought it no condigne gratification, nor scarce any good satisfaction for such a person as you. Yet when I considered, that bestowing vpon your Lordship the first vewe of this mine impression (a feat of mine owne simple facultie) it could not scypher her Maiesties honour or prerogatiue in the guift, nor yet the Authour of his thanks: and seeing the thing it selfe to be a deuice of some noueltie (which commonly it giveth euery good thing a speciall grace) and a noueltie so highly tending to the most worthy prayses of her Maiesties most excellent name. So deerer to you I dare conceiue them any worldly thing besides love although I could not deuise to have presented your Lordship any gift more agreeable to your appetite, or fitter for my vocation and abilitie to bestow, your Lordship beyng learned and a louer of learning, my present a Book and my selfe a printer alwaies ready and desirous to be at your Honourable commaundement. And thus I humbly take my leave from the Black friers, this xxvii of May, 1589.

Your Honours most humble at commaundement,


A colei

[Illustration of Queen holding orb and sceptre.]

Che se stessa rassomiglia & non altrui.

THE FIRST BOOKE, Of Poets and Poesie.


What a Poet and Poesie is, and who may be worthily sayd the most excellent Poet of our time.

A Poet is as much to say as a maker. And our English name well conformes with the Greeke word: for of [Greek: poiein] to make, they call a maker Poeta . Such as (by way of resemblance and reuerently) we may say of God: who without any trauell to his diuine imagination, made all the world of nought, nor also by any paterne or mould as the Platonicks with their Idees do phantastically suppose. Euen so the very Poet makes and contriues out of his owne braine both the verse and matter of his poeme, and not by any foreine copie or example, as doth the translator, who therefore may well be sayd a versifier, but not a Poet. The premises considered, it giueth to the name and profession no smal dignitie and preheminence aboue all other artificers, Scientificke or Mechanicall. And neuerthelesse without any repugnancie at all, a Poet may in some sort be said a follower or imitator, because he can expresse the true and liuely of euery thing is set before him, and which he taketh in hand to describe: and so in that respect is both a maker and a counterfaitor: and Poesiean art not only of making, but also of imitation. And this science in his perfection, can not grow, but by some diuine instinct, the Platonicks call it furor : or by excellencie of nature and complexion: or by great subtiltie of the spirits & wit or by much experience and obseruation of the world, and course of kinde, or peradventure by all or most part of them... Continue reading book >>

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