Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage

By R. M.Cummings | Go to book overview

81.

George Wither

1641

George Wither (1588-1667) left Magdalen College, Oxford, without a degree, and studied law in London. The piece below, without mentioning Spenser's name, leaves little doubt about the identity of its subject. Wither was himself a poet of the Spenserian School, and was associated with William Browne.

From Halelviah…(1641), sigs. A8V-A9:

Another sort of Poesie, is the Delivery of necessary Truths, and whole-some Documents, couched in so significant Parables; and illustrated by such flowres of Rhetorick, as are helpfull to work upon the Affections, and to insinuate into Apprehensive Readers, a liking of those Truths, and Instructions, which they expresse.

These Inventions, are most acceptable to those who have ascended the middle Region of Knowledge; For, though the wisest men make use of them in their writings; yet, they are not the wisest men for whose sake they are used. This Poesie is frequently varyed, according to the severall Growths, Ages, and Alterations of that Language, wherein it is worded: and, that, which this day is approved of as an elegancy, may seeme lesse facetious in another Age. For which cause, such Compositions, may be resembled to Garments of whole Silke, adorned with gold lace: For while the Stuffe, shape and trimming, are in fashion, they are a fit wearing for Princes; and (the Materials being unmangled) may continue useful to some purposes, for some other persons.

-174-

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