Tuesday, January 23, 2018

For-Ever-Famelesse Oxford

 Oxford/Amorphus/England's Narcissus:

Henry Reynolds

Obseruation vpon the Tale of Narcissus.
As not the least of the Fables of the Auncients but had their meanings, and most of them diuerse mea|nings also, so no lesse hath this of Narcissus, which Ouid hath smoothely sung, and I paraphrastically Englisht after my owne way, and for my owne pleasure. Wherein I am not vnwilling to render (withall) what, as I am taught a little by my owne Genius, and more by better vnderstandings then my own, the Fable was by the first deuizers therof made to meane. And first, for the Geographick parte; the Sence thereof is Note in marg:  the Geographick Geogra|phick sence.(I conceiue) obuious enough: The Tale tells vs, the god Cephissus, a great Riuer in Boeotia, that running through the ager Atticus or Attick field (as the place was aunciently called meetes, and mingles his streames with the Water-nymphe Liriope, a narrow brooke so named; and hauing be|tweene them compassed a flat low ground almost Iland-wise, before their falling together into the Phale|rick gulphe, they were fitly called the Parents of this Narcissus or Daffadill, beeing a floure which, (besides the specificall nature it hath to grow, and thriue best in waterish places,) the medowy groundes those waters encompassed, did chiefely yeeld and abound in. This Narcissus is fai|ned to eschew and flye the compa|nie Note in marg:  the Physick sence.of all women, no lesse then of the Nymphe Ecco that is enamour'd and doates vpon him; denoting by this auuersion of his, the nature of the floure that beares his name; for the daffadill or water-lilly, the seedes thereof especially (as the applyers of them in medcine haue obserued) do powerfully extinguish the ability and desire of carnall copulation, by ouercooling of the Animall seed; no lesse then does Porcelane, Lettuce, Agnus castus, Calamint, White vio|letts, and the like of that kinde. From this his before mencioned quality, and the ill effect it workes in mans body, his name Narcissus (which is torpedo, languor, segnities-slothe, stupi|ditie, lazinesse) was by the Anncients not vnfitly giuen to this vegitable. And they out of this consideration likewise faigned that Preserpine, when Pluto rauished her away as she was gathering floures, had her lap full of Narcissusses; because lazy & vnbusied women are most subject vnto such inconueniences. And because slothfull, vnactiue, and vnindustrious mindes are for the most parte vn|capable of producing any permanent, substantiall or reall effects or frute in any kinde, this fraile flowre therefore (the symbole of such like imperfect and dificient inclinations,) was among the number of lost, dead, and soone-to-be-forgotten things, by those Auncient inuestigators of Natures trueths, particularly dedicated to their Infernall gods. The Morall expounders of this Fable will haue it meane thus,-Ecco, or Fame, (a faire voice) loues and wooes Narcissus, or Philautia; but the selfe-louing man, enamor'd (like this Narcissus) only on himselfe, and blinde to all pleasures but those of the Sence, despises and slightes the more to be imbraced happinesse of a lasting renowne, and memory; and therefore dying, his fame, and all of him dyes with him, and he becomes only-charus dis inferis. A much higher and nobler meaning then any of these before deliuered, is by excellent Authors giuen to this Fable: wherein we must know, that as all the first wise Auncients in generall, vnder characters, figures, and simboles of things, layd downe the precepts of their wisdome to Posterity, so in particular did Pythagoras, who (as the most autentick Iamblicus the Caldaean tells vs) deliuered also the most parte of his doctrines in figuratiue, tipick, and symbolick Notions: among which, one of his documents is this-While the winds breathe, adore Ecco. This Winde is (as the before-mencioned Iamblicus, by consent of his other fellow-Cabalists sayes) the Symbole of the Breath of God; and Ecco, the Reflection of this diuine breath, or Spirit vpon vs; or (as they interpret it) -the daughter of the diuine voice; which through the beatifying splendor it shedds & diffuses through the Soule, is justly worthy to be reuerenced and adored by vs. This Ecco descending vpon a Narcissus, or such a Soule as (impurely and vitiously affected) slights, and stops his eares to the Diuine voice, or shutts his harte from  diuine Inspirations, through his being enamour'd of not himselfe, but his owne shadow meerely, Section of illegible textd (buried in the ordures of the Sence) followes corporall shadowes, and flyes the light and purity of Intellectuall Beauty, he becoms thence (being dispoyled, (as the great Iamblicus speakes) of his propper, natiue, and celestiall vertue, and ability,) an earthy, weake, worthlesse thing, and fit sacrifize for only eternall obliuion, and the dij inferi; to whom the Auncients (as is before noted) be|queathed and dedicated this their lazy, stupid, and for-euer-famelesse Narcissus.

 (with thanks)

 King Hamlet's Ghost: 

I find thee apt,
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this.


…all the art of rhetorick, besides order and clearness, all the artificial and figurative application of words eloquence hath invented, are for nothing else but to insinuate wrong ideas, move the passions. And thereby mislead the judgement…eloquence, like the fair sex, has too prevailing beauties in it to suffer itself ever to be spoken against. And it is vain to find fault with those arts of deceiving wherein men find pleasure to be deceived. (John Locke, The Abuse of Words)


John Oldham on Ben Jonson

…Plain Humor, shewn with her whole various Face,
Not mask'd with any antick Dress,
Nor screw'd in forc'd, ridiculous Grimace
(The gaping Rabbles dull delight,
And more the Actor's than the Poet's Wit)
Such did she enter on thy Stage,
And such was represented to the wond'ring Age:
Well wast thou skill'd, and read in human kind,
In every wild fantastick Passion of his mind,
Didst into all his hidden Inclinations dive,
What each from Nature does receive,
Or Age, or Sex, or Quality, or Country give;
What Custom too, that mighty Sorceress,
Whose pow'rful Witchcraft does transform
Enchanted Man to several monstrous Images,
Makes this an odd, and freakish Monky turn,
And that a grave and solemn Ass appear,
And all a thousand beastly shapes of Folly wear:
Whate're Caprice or Whimsie leads awry
Perverted, and seduc'd Mortality,
Or does incline, and byass it
From what's Discreet, and Wise, and Right, and Good, and Fit;

All in thy faithful Glass were so express'd,
As if they were Reflections of thy Breast,
As if they had been stamp'd on thy own mind,
And thou the universal vast Idea of Mankind.


Beware then thou render Mens Figures truly, and teach them no less to hate their Deformities, than to love their Forms -- Jonson, _Narcissus the Fountain of Self-Love_ or _Cynthia's Revels_


Ben Jonson

Cynthia's Revels, Jonson

Go, Dors, and you, my madam COURTING-STOCKS,
Follow your scorned and derided mates;
Tell to your guilty breasts, what mere GILT BLOCKS
You are, and how unworthy human states.

CRI. Now, sacred God of Wit, if you can make
Those, whom our sports tax in these APISH GRACES,
Kiss, like the fighting snakes, your peaceful rod,
These times shall canonise you for a god.

MER. Why, Crites, think you any noble spirit,
Or any, worth the title of a man,
Will be incensed to see the enchanted veils
Of self-conceit, and SERVILE FLATTERY,
Wrapt in so many folds by time and custom,
Drawn from his wronged and bewitched eyes?
Who sees not now their shape and nakedness,
Is blinder than the son of earth, the mole;
Crown'd with no more humanity, nor soul.

CRITES. Though they may see it, yet the huge estate
FANCY, and FORM, and SENSUAL PRIDE have gotten,
Will make them blush for anger, not for shame,
And turn shewn nakedness to impudence.
Humour is now the test we try things in:
All power is just: nought that delights is sin.
And yet the zeal of every knowing man
Opprest with hills of tyranny, cast on virtue
By the light fancies of fools, thus transported.
Cannot but vent the Aetna of his fires,
T'inflame best bosoms with much worthier love
Than of these outward and effeminate shades;
That these vain joys, in which their wills consume
Such powers of wit and soul as are of force
To raise their beings to eternity,
May be converted on works fitting men:
And, for the practice of a forced look,
An antic gesture, or a fustian phrase,
Study the native frame of a true heart,
An inward comeliness of bounty, knowledge,
And spirit that may conform them actually
To God's high figures, which they have in power;
Which to neglect for a self-loving neatness,
Is sacrilege of an unpardon'd greatness.

MER. Then let the truth of these things strengthen thee,
In thy exempt and only man-like course;
Like it the more, the less it is respected:
Though men fail, virtue is by gods protected. --
See, here comes Arete; I'll withdraw myself. [EXIT.]

Jonson, Timber
Decipimur specie. - There is a greater reverence had of things remote or strange to us than of much better if they be nearer and fall under our sense. Men, and almost all sorts of creatures, have their reputation by distance. Rivers, the farther they run, and more from their spring, the broader they are, and greater. And where our original is known, we are less the confident; among strangers we trust fortune. Yet a man may live as renowned at home, in his own country, or a private village, as in the whole world. For it is VIRTUE that gives glory; that will endenizen a man everywhere. It is only that can naturalise him. A NATIVE, if he be vicious, deserves to be a stranger, and cast out of the commonwealth as an alien.


 ...And thence retire me to my Milan, where
Every third thought shall be my grave.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Droeshout and Horace's Art of Poetry

'Left-Witted' Shakespeare - Figuring Shakespeare's Faults:

In 1911, Gentlemen's Tailor Magazine investigated the construction of the doublet and reported:

"The tunic, coat, or whatever the garment may have been called at the time, is so strangely illustrated that the right hand-side of the forepart is obviously the left-hand side of the backpart, and so give[s] a harlequin appearance to the figure, which it is not unnatural to assume was intentional and done with express object and purpose.

Nabokov - Bend Sinister 1947
Who is he?
William X, cunningly composed of *two left arms* and a mask?

 Horace, Art of Poetry - Jonson translation:

O I, LEFT-WITTED , that purge every spring
For Choler! if I did not, none could bring
Our better Poems: but I cannot buy
My title at their rate.



And what is beauty? a meer Quintessence,
Whose life is not in being , but in seeming:
And therefore is not to all eyes the same
But like a cozening picture which one way
shows like a Crow, another like a Swan.


Quintus Horatius Flaccus his Book of the Art of Poetry to the PISO'S. 
transl. Ben Jonson

IF to a womans head, a painter would
A horse neck joyn, & sundry plumes or-fold
On every limb, ta'ne from a several creature,
Presenting upwards a fair female feature,
Which in a blacke foule fish uncomely ends:
Admitted to the sight, although his friends,
Could you containe your laughter? credit me,
That Book, my Piso's, and this piece agree,
Whose shapes like sick mens dreams are form'd so vain,
As neither head, nor foot, one forme retain.

Selfhood and the Soul
Shadi Bartsch

"The Ars Poetica, which began with a* disconnected human head as a sign of faulty poetic skill* now ends, with the three words 'plena cruoris hirudo',a leech full of blood" to indict not the untalented man, but the crazy one.'


Persius: A Study in Food, Philosophy and the Figural
Shadi Bartsch

The Ars poetica’s teachings on propriety, then, touch on several interrelated themes that span the literal and the metaphorical. Figuratively, Horace opens with misplaced and missing limbs in order to populate a repeated metaphor for what epic and tragic poetry should avoid: lack of unity, purple passages, the grotesque. On the literal level, he informs us that certain kinds of subject matter have no place in tragedy, especially those related to the mutilation or consumption of the human body. Finally, when he mentions characters such as Thyestes or Lamia, their consumption of human body parts sets up a suggestive but underplayed parallel with the mutilation and rearrangement of the poetic text.


Jonson, on Shakespeare (Discoveries)

I remember, the Players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in his writing, (whatsoever he penn'd) hee never BLOTTED out line. My answer hath beene, would he had BLOTTED a thousand. Which they thought a MALEVOLENT speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their IGNORANCE, who choose that circumstance to COMMEND their friend by, wherein he most FAULTED...

 malevolent/benevolent - Jonson's 'true' criticism characterized as malevolent -

Cartwright, William, Jonsonus Virbius

...Blest life of Authors, unto whom we owe
Those that we have, and those that we want too:
Th'art all so good, that reading makes thee worse,
And to have writ so well's thine onely curse.
Secure then of thy merit, thou didst hate
That servile base dependance upon fate:
Successe thou ne'r thoughtst vertue, nor that fit,
Which chance, and th'ages fashion did make hit;
*Excluding those from life in after-time*,
Who into Po'try first brought luck and rime:
Who thought the peoples breath good ayre: sty'ld name
What was but noise; and getting Briefes for fame
Gathered the many's suffrages, and thence
THY thoughts were their owne Lawrell, and did win
That best applause of being crown'd within..  

Jonson assumes a tone of  'benevolent commendation' for incurable Shake-speare:

To draw no envy, SHAKSPEARE, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame ;
While I confess thy writings to be such,
As neither Man nor Muse can praise too much.
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage.


Left-Witted -
 Horace, Art of Poetry - transl. Ben Jonson

But you, Pompilius off-spring spare you not
To taxe that Verse, which many a day and blot
Have not kept in, and (least perfection faile)
Not, ten times o're, corrected to the naile.
Because Democritus believes a wit
420 Happier than wretched Art, and doth by it
Exclude all sober Poets from their share
In Helicon; a great sort will not pare
Their nails, nor shave their beards, but seek by-paths
In secret places, flee the publick baths.

For so, they shall not onely gaine the worth,
But fame of Poets, if they can come forth,
And from the Barber Licinus conceale
*The head that three Anticira's cannot heale.*
O I, LEFT-WITTED , that purge every spring
430 For Choler! if I did not, none could bring
Our better Poems: but I cannot buy
My title at their rate. I had rather, I,
Be like a whetstone, that an edge can put
On steele, though't selfe be dull, and cannot cut.
435 I, writing nought my selfe, will teach them yet
Their charge, and office, whence their wealth to fit:
What nourisheth, what formed, what begot
The Poet, what becommeth, and what not:
Whether truth will, and whether errour bring.

HORACE, Art of Poetry (Transl. Smart and Blakeney)

If you had recited any thing to Quintilius, he would say, “Alter, I pray, this and this.” If you replied, you could do it no better, having made the experiment twice or thrice in vain; he would order you to blot out, and once more apply to the anvil your ill-formed verses: if you choose rather to defend than correct a fault, he spent not a word more nor fruitless labor, but you alone might be fond of yourself and your own works, without a rival. A good and sensible man will censure spiritless verses, he will condemn the rugged, on the incorrect he will draw across a black stroke with his pen; he will lop off ambitious [and redundant] ornaments; he will make him throw light on the parts that are not perspicuous; he will arraign what is expressed ambiguously; he will mark what should be altered; [in short,] he will be an Aristarchus: he will not say, “Why should I give my friend offense about mere trifles?” These trifles will lead into mischiefs of serious consequence, when once made an object of ridicule, and used in a SINISTER manner.


Horace, of the Art of Poetrie
transl. Ben Jonson

If to Quintilius, you recited ought:
Hee'd say, Mend this, good friend, and this; "Tis naught.
If you denied, you had no better straine,
And twice, or thrice had 'ssayd it, still in vaine:
Hee'd bid, BLOT all: and to the anvile bring
Those ill-torn'd Verses, to new hammering.
Then: If your fault you rather had defend
Then change. *No word, or worke, more would he spend
In vaine, but you, and yours, YOU SHOULD LOVE STILL
Alone, without a rivall, by his will.

A wise, and honest man will cry out shame
On ARTELESS Verse; the hard ones he will blame;
Blot out the careless, with his turned pen;
Cut off superfluous ornaments; and when
They're darke, bid cleare this: all that's doubtfull wrote
Reprove; and, what is to be changed, not:
Become an Aristarchus. And, not say,
Why should I grieve my friend, this trifling way?
These trifles into serious mischiefs lead
The man once mock'd, and SUFFERED WRONG TO TREAD.

sinistre - 
 Horace, Art of Poetry
Earl of Roscommon

Quintilius (if his advice were ask'd)

Would freely tell you what you should correct,

Or (if you could not) bid you blot it out,
And with more care supply the vacancy;
But if he found you fond, and obstinate
(And apter to defend than mend your faults)
With silenc leave you to admire your self,
And without Rival hugg your darling Book.
The prudent care of an Impartial friend,
Will give you notice of each idle Line,
Shew what sounds harsh, & what wants ornament,
Or where it is too lavishly bestowed;
Make you explain all that he finds Obscure,
And with a strict Enquiry mark your faults;
Nor for these trifles fear to loose your love;
Those things, which now seem frivolous, & slight,
Will be of serious consequence to you,
When they have made you once Ridiculous.


Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority
Ellen Oliensis

It is Rome’s misevaluation of the art of poetry, Horace argues, that has kept her from achieving pre-eminence in the field of letters. Rome’s poets are “offended” by what Horace calls “the time-consuming labour of the file; they will not condescend to labour over their creations, like the lowly artisan who sweats to give his statues the requisite finish. The roots of this prejudice are exposed in Satires 2, where Horace, adopting the perspective of his detractors, often figures art as the recourse of those who have been handicapped by fortune. Those who believe that art does nothing more than supplement (and thus signal) a deficiency will shun art as inherently degrading, instructed by Horace, the Pisones will know better. The poem in a state of NATURE cries out for CULTIVATION. (291-4)

“Sons of the late blood of King Numa Pompilius, censure a poem that has not been refined and corrected ten times over by many a day’s blotting until its finish satisfies a trimmed nail.”

Aesthetic labour is not occasionally but always called upon to smooth the rough surface of the newly created poem. The poem that has not been thus corrected by its maker deserves to be corrected by its readers. In this context, Horace’s COMICALLY INFLATED APOSTROPHE to the “Sons of the Blood of King Numa Pompilius” serves as a friendly warning. No matter how purple their blood, in the field of poetry the PIsones must bow to the claim of lowly ars.


Author: Holland, Abraham

Title: Naumachia, or Hollands sea-fight Date: 1622

A Caveat to his Muse

Well  Minion you'le be gadding forth then?  Goe,
Goe, hast unto thy speedy overthrow:
And since thou wilt not take my warning: Hence,
Learne thy owne ruine by experience.
Alas poore Maid (if so I her may call
Who itches to be prostitute to all
Adulterate censures) were it not for thee
Better, to live in sweet securitie
In my small cell, than flying rashly out,
Be whoop't, and hiss't, and gaz'd at all about
Like a day-owle: Faith Misris you'le be put
One of these daies to serve some driveling slut,
To wrap her sope in, or a least be droven
To keepe a Pie from scorching in the Oven:
Or else expos'd a laughing stock to sots,
To cloke Tobacco, or stop Mustard pots,
Thou wilt be grac't if so thou canst but win
To infold Frankincense or Mackrills in,
You deem it a matter of high worth
To have a fame among 'em: New come forth:
And thinke your chiefe felicity is marr'd
If you be not perch't up in Paules Church-yard
Where men a farre may know you in a trice,
By some new-fangled, brasse-cut Frontispice.
Such book's indeed as now-dayes can passé
Had need to have their faces made of brasse.
Is it not then sufficient for you
To stay at home among the residue
Of better sisters: where my dearest Will, (my note - Will Browne?)
And other friends would praise and love thee still:
Him and my other harts-halfes I account
Intire assemblies, and thinke they surmount
One judging Plato worth a Theater.


Both Jonson's 1616 Folio and his play _The Alchemist_ bore an epigraph adapted from Horace:

"Neque, me ut miretur turba, laboro: / Contentus paucis lectoribus"

" I do not expend my efforts so that the multitude may wonder at me: I am contented with a few readers"