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The dulcet speche from the langage rude,
Tellynge the tale in termes eloquent,
The barbary tongue it doth ferre exclude,
Electynge wordes whiche are expedyent,
In Latyn or in Englyshe, after the entent
Encensyng out the aromatyke fume,
Our langage rude to exyle and consume.
But what avayleth evermore to sowe
The precyous stones amonge gruntynge hogges? Draffe unto them is more meter I trowe.
Let an hare and swyne be amonge curre dogges; Though to the hares were tyed grete clogges, The gentyll beast they wyll regarde nothyng, But to the swyne take course of rennyng.
To cloke the sentence under mysty figures,
By many colours as I make relacyon,
As the olde poetes covered theyr scryptures,
Of which the fyrste is dystrybucyon;
That to the evyll, for theyr abusyon,
Doth gyve payne, and, to the worthy,
Laude and prayse, them for to magnyfy.
Of beste or byrd they take a symylytude
Of the condycyon lyke to the party,
Feble, fayre, or yet of fortytude;
And under colour of this beste, pryvely
The morall sense they cloke full subtyly,
In prayse or dysprayse, as it is reasonable:
Of whose faynyng fyrst rose the fable.
Concludyng reason gretely profitable;
Who that theyr fables can well moralyse,
The fruytfull sentences are delectable,
Though that the ficcion they doo so devyse
Under the colour the trouth doth aryse,
Concludyng reason, rychesse, and connyng,
Pleasure, example, and also lernyng.
They fayned no fable without reason,
For reasonable is al theyr moralitie,
And upon reason was theyr conclusion,
That the comon wyt, by possibilitie,
Maye well a judge the perfyt veritie
Of theyr sentence for reason openly
To the comon wyt it doth so notify.
Theyr fruitfull sentence was grete rychesse,
The whych ryght surely they myght well domyne,
For lordshyp, welth, and also noblesse,
The chaunce of fortune can some determyne.
But what for this? she can not declyne
The noble science, whiche, after poverte,
Maye bryng a man agayne to dignitie.
Theyr sentence is connyng, as appereth well,
For by conning theyr arte doth engendre,
And wythout connyng we knowe never a dele,
Of theyr sentence, but may sone surrendre
A true tale, that myght to us rendre
Grete pleasure, if we were intelligible
Of theyr connyng nothyng impossible.
O what pleasure to the intelligent
It is to knowe and have perceyveraunce
Of theyr connyng, so much expedient,
And therof to have good utteraunce!
Redyng newe thynges of so grete pleasaunce,
Fedyng the mynd wyth foode insaciate,
The tales newe they are so delicate.
In an example, with a mysty cloud
Of covert lykenesse, the poetes do wryte;
And underneth the trouth doth so shroude,
Both good and yll, as they lyst acquyte,
With similitude they dyd so well endyte,
As I here after shall the trouth sone shew,
Of all theyr mysty and theyr fatall dewe.
The poetes fayne how that kyng Athlas
Heaven should bere upon his shoulders hye;
Because in connyng he dyd all other pas,
Especially in the hygh astronomye:
Of the vi. planettes he knewe so perfytly
The operacions, how they were domified;
For whych poetes hym so exemplyfied.
And in lyke wyse, unto the Sagittary
They feyne the Centures to be of lykenesse,
As halfe man and halfe horse truely;
Because Mylyzyus wyth hys worthynesse
Dyd fyrst attame and breke the wyldenes
Of the riall stedes, and ryght swyftly
Hys men and he rode on them surely.
And also Pluto, somtyme kynge of hell;
A cyte of Grece, standyng in Thessayle,
Betwene grete rockes, as the boke doth tell,
Wherin were people wythout any fayle,
Huge, fyerse, and strong in battayle,
Tyrauntes, theves, replete with treason;
Wherfore poetes, by true comparison,
Unto the devylles, blacke and tedious,
Dyd them resemble, in terrible fygure,
For theyr mysselyvyng so foule and vycyous,
As to thys daye it doth appere in ure
Of Cerebus the defloured pycture,
The porter of hell, wyth thre heades ugly,
Lyke an horrible gyaunt fyrce and wonderly:
Because alway hys customed tyranny
Was elevate in herte by hygh presumpcion,
Thynkyng hym selfe most strong and myghty;
And secondly, he was destruction
Of many ladies by yll compulcion;
And thyrdly, his desyre insaciable
Was to get ryches full innumerable.
Thus, for these thre vyces abhominable
They made hym wyth thre hedes serpentyne,
And like a feend his body semblable,
For his pryde, avaryce, and also rapyne.
The morall cense can soone enlumyne
The fatall pycture to be exuberaunt,
And to our syght clere, and not variaunte.
Also rehersed the cronicles of Spayne,
How redoubted Hercules by puyssaunce
Fought with an ydre, ryght grete certayne,
Having seven heades of full grete myschaunce;
For whan that he wyth all hys valiaunce
Had stryken of an head, ryght shortly,
Another anon arose ryght sodaynly.
Seven sophyms full hard and fallacyous
Thys ydre used in preposicion
Unto the people, and was full rigorious
To devoure them, where lacked responsion;
And whan one reason had conclusion,
Another reason than incontinent
Began agayne wyth subtyll argument.
For whych cause the poetes covertly
With vii. heades doth thys ydre depaynt,
For these vii. sophyms full ryght closely;
But of rude people the wyttes are so faynt,
That wyth theyr connyng they can not acquaynt,
But who that lyst theyr scyence to lerne,
Their obscure fygures he shall well decerne.
O redolent well of famous poetry,
O clere fountayne replete wyth swetenes,
Refferynge out the dulcet delicacy
Of iiii. ryvers in mervaylous wydenesse,
Fayrer than Tygrys or yet Eufrates;
For the fyrst ryver is Understandyng;
The seconde ryver Close-concluding;