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notable in the soon beginning than in long continuing. 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 10 skill. 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 Virgilianae,” 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,
11 "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 Delphos and the sibyls' 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 may not I presume a little further, 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 it 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 12 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 showeth 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 now let us see how the Greeks have named it, and how they deemed of it. The Greeks named him Ilointis: which name hath, as the most excellent, gone through other languages. It cometh of this word toleiv, which is “to make :” wherein, I know not whether by luck or wisdom, we Englishmen 13 have met with the Greeks in calling him 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 14 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. 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 or hurtful unto it. And the 15 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 : 16 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. Nature never set forth the earth in such 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, for whom, as the other things are, so it seemeth in him her uttermost 17 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 Aeneas? Neither let this be jestingly conceived, because the works of the one be 18 essential, the other in imitation or fiction ; for every understanding knoweth the skill of each artificer standeth in that idea, or foreconceit of the work, and not in the work itself. And that the poet hath that idea, is manifest, by the delivering them forth in such excellency as he had imagined them: which delivering forth, also, is not wholly imaginative, as we were wont to say 19 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 Cyrusses, if they will learn aright why and how that maker made him. Neither let it be deemed too 20 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 showed 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 learning.
Now 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, therefore, is an art of imitation ; for so Aristotle termeth it in the word uiunous, 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 excellencies 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, besides 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 niust 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 second kind, is of them that deal with matter philosophical; either moral, as Tyrtaeus, Phocylides, Cato; or natural, as Lucretius, and Virgil's Georgics; or astronomical, as Manilius and Pontanus; or historical, as Lucan; which who 21 mislike, the fault is in their judgment, 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 invention, whether they properly be poets, or no, let grammarians dispute, and go to the third, indeed, 22 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 be subdivided into sundry more special denominations : the most notable be the heroic, lyric, tragic, comic, satiric, 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 liked best to write in ; for indeed the greatest part of poets have apparelled their poetical inventions in 23 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 justi