Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage

By R. M.Cummings | Go to book overview
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Charles Butler


Charles Butler (d. 1647) was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and employed what leisure his clerical duties allowed as an English philologist. In 1633 he produced The English Grammar. The extract below is from an earlier effort.

From Rhetoricae Libri Duo (Oxford, 1598), sigs. C3v-C4:

Number in poetry is called rhythm or metre. Rhythm then is poetic number, containing a fixed total of syllables, and not contained by any quantitative principle. Natural rhythms of this sort are found in every nation and among all peoples. They are even to be discovered in Greece before Homer, and in Italy before Andronicus. And in modern times for the most part they rhyme, as in our Homer's poem, [quotes RT 11.400-406] And a little later [quotes RT 11.428-34] Careful reading in the best poets will show the different kinds of rhythm.

[Butler's note reads:] Those amongst our poets most deserving of comparison with Homer, Virgil, and Ovid, are Edmund Spenser, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, and others, full of native talent and artistic skill (in both of which this age is fertile). First among them, the master of them all and the only lamp of his own dark age, is Master Geoffrey Chaucer. 1

1 Rhythmus Numerus Numerus poeticus est rhythmus, aut metrum. RHYTHMVS est numerus poeticus certunsyllabarum numerum (nulla habita quantitatis ratione) continens. Tales rhythmi naturales sunt in omni natione atque gente: etiam in Graecia ante Homerum, & in Italia ante Andronicum reperti sunt. Hodie autem plerumque Epistrophen soni coniunctam habent: ut in illo Homeri nostri poemate. [quotes R.T. 400-6]

& paulo post. [quotes R.T. 428-34]

Varia rhythmorum genera optimorum poetarum observatio optime premonstrabit.

[Butler's note reads:]

Quales sunt apud nos Homero, Maroni, & Ovidio merito aequiparandi, Edmvndvs Spencer, Samvel Daniel, & Michael Drayton: aliiq, ingenio & arte florentes, (quorum haec aetas uberrima est) Atque inprimis horum omnium magister, unicum caligantis sui seculi lumen, dominus Galfridvs Chavcer.


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