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And depaynt my tong wyth thy ryall floures
Of delicate odoures, that I may ensue
In my purpose to glad myne audytours,
And wyth thy power that thou me endue
To moralise thy lytterall censes trewe,
And clense away the myst of
With depured beames of goodly ordinaunce.
With humble eres of perfyt audience,
To my request she dyd than enclyne;
Sayeng she wolde in her goodly scyence
In short space me so well indoctryne,
That my dull mynde it shoulde enlumyne
With golden beames, for ever to oppresse
My rude language and all my semplenesse.
I thanked her of her great gentylnes,
And axed her, after, this question:
Madame, I sayde, I wolde knowe doubtles
What rethoryke is, without abusion.
Rethoryke, she sayde, was founde by reason,
Man for to governe wel and prudently;
His wordes to ordre, his speche to purify.
Fyve partes hath Rethoryke, for to werke trewe,
Without whiche fyve there can be no sentence.
For these fyve do well evermore renue
The matter parfyte with good intellygence.
Who that will se them with all his dyligence,
Here foloweng I shall them specify,
Accordyng well all unto myne ordynary.
OF THE FYRST, CALLED INVENCYON, AND A COMMENDACION OF POETES.
THE fyrste of them is called Invencion,
Whiche surdeth of the most noble werke
Of v. inward wittes with hole affeccion,
As writeth right many a noble clerke,
Wyth mysty colour of cloudes derke,
How comyn wytte doothe full well electe
What it shoulde take, and what it shall abjecte.
And secondly, by ymaginacyon
To drawe a matter full facundious,
Full mervaylus is the operacion,
To make of nought, reason sentencious,
Clokynge a trouthe wyth colour tenebrous;
For often under a fayre fayned fable
A trouthe appereth gretely profitable.
It was the guyse in old antiquyte,
Of famous poets ryght ymaginatife,
Fables to fayne by good auctorite;
They were so wyse and so inventife,
Theyr obscure reason, fayre and sugratife,
Pronounced trouthe under cloudy figures,
By the inventyon of theyr fatall scriptures.
And thyrdly, they hadde suche a fantasy,
In this hyghe arte to be intelligible,
Theyr fame encresynge evermore truely,
To slouth ever they were invincible:
To theyr wofull hertes was nought impossible;
Wyth brennynge love of insaciate fyre
Newe thynges to fynde they set theyr desyre.
For though a man of his proper mynde
Be inventife, and he do not apply
His fantasye unto the besy kynde,
Of hys connynge it maye not ratifye;
For fantasye must nedes exemplify
Hys new invencion, and cause hym to entende
Wyth hole desyre to brynge it to an ende.
And fourtely, by good estimacion
He must nombre al the hole cyrcumstaunce
Of thys mater wyth brevyacion,
That he walke not by longe continaunce
The perambulat waye, full of all variaunce.
By estimacion is made annunciate
Whether the mater be long or brevyate.
For to invention it is equipolent,
The mater founde ryght well to comprehende
In suche a space as is convenient;
For properly it doth ever pretende
Of all the purpose the length to extende:
So estimacion maye ryght well conclude
The parfyte nombre of every similitude.
And yet, than, the retentyfe memory,
Whyche is the fifte, must ever agregate
All maters thought to retayne inwardly,
Tyll reason therof hath made a brobate,
And by scripture wyll make demonstrate
Outwardly accordynge to the thought,
To prove a reason upon a thyng of nought.
Thus, whan the fourth hath wrought full wonderly,
Then must the mynde werke upon them all,
By cours ingenious to rynne dyrectly
After theyr thoughtes, than in generall
The mynde must cause them to be memoriall;
As after this shall appere more openly,
All hole exprest by dame Phylosophy.
O thrust of vertue and of ryall pleasure
Of famous poetes many yeres ago!
O insaciate covetyse of the speciall treasure
Of new invencion, of ydelnes the foo!
We may you laude, and often prayse also,
And specially for worthy causes thre,
Whiche to thys daye we may both here and se.
As to the fyrst, your hole desyre was set
Fables to fayne to eschewe ydlenes,
Wyth amplyacion more connyng to get,
By the laboure of inventyfe busynes,
Touchynge the trouthe by covert lykenes
To dysnull vyce and the vycious to blame;
Your dedes therto exemplifyde the same.
And secondly, ryght well you dyd endyte
Of the worthy actes of many a conquerour;
Through whych labour that you dyd so wryte
Unto this day reygneth the honour
Of every noble and myghty warriour,
And for your labour and your busy payne
Your fame yet lyveth, and shall endure certayne.
And eke to prayse you we are gretely bounde,
Because our connyng from you so procedeth,
For you therof were fyrst originall ground,
And upon your scripture our science ensueth.
Your splendent verses our lyghtnes renueth;
And so we ought to laude and magnify
Your excellent springes of famous poetry.
A REPLICATION AGAINST IGNORAUNT PERSONES.
But rude people, opprest with blyndnes,
Agaynst your fables wyll often solisgyse,
Suche is theyr mynde, such is theyr folyshnes;
For they beleve in no maner of wyse
That under a colour a trouth may aryse.
For folysh people, blynded in a matter,
Will often erre whan they of it do clatter.