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The Arte of English Poesie

Literature & Literary Criticism

Foreword by Baxter Hathaway

Published in 1589, The Arte of English Poesie can be considered the first full-scale work of poetic criticism in England—“a noble monument,” in Professor Hathaway’s words, “astraddle the rude beginnings of the speculative aspects of English literary culture.”  Its three main parts are a treatise on poets and poetry, an analysis of English prosody, and a discussion of rhetorical ornamentation—all treated compactly and thoroughly.  While little of its thought was strikingly new for its time, since it drew on traditions going back through the Middle Ages to classical roots, its value lay in its synthesis of these ideas and its summation of an aesthetic movement.  As such it provides important insights into the aesthetic philosophy of the English Renaissance.