George Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie

The Arte of English Poesie: Contrived into three Bookes: The first of Poets and Poesie, the second of Proportion, the third of Ornament

by George Puttenham
London, 1589
Note: What follows is an outline of this important Renaissance poetical / rhetorical text. Puttenham is perhaps best known for his innovative renaming of the figures of classical rhetoric. To proceed to tables of these (contained in Chapters 10-20 of Book 3), click here. A complete electronic text version of this work may be found at the University of Virginia, here.

Book 1: Of Poets and Poesie

Chap 1: Definition of poet

Chap 2-9: Defense of poetry in the vernacular (English)

Chap 10-30: Division of poetic forms as derived from the Greeks and Romans

Chap 31: Most commended writers of English

Book 2: Of Proportion Poeticall

Chap 1-12: 5 points

  1. Staffe (stanza)
  2. Measure (meter)
  3. Concord (rhyme)
  4. Situation (rhyme pattern)
  5. Figure (geometrical figure)

Chap 13: Possibility of bringing Greek and Latin feet into English

Chap 14-18: Feet of different lengths, perfect and efective lines, breaking syllables

Book 3: Of Ornament Poeticall

Chap 1-2: Definition and Purpose of figurative speech

Chap 3: Ornament divided into those of sound and those of thought

Chap 4: Language

Chap 5-6: Stile

High (hymns, tragedies, histories): gods, nobility, noble affairs
Mean (comedies): men, day-too-day life, business
Low (eglogues, pastorals): commoners, craftsmen

Chap 7: Danger of figures

Chap 8: Six points set down by "ancients" to define good utterance

  1. Melodious
  2. Brief
  3. Orderly
  4. Proper and Natural
  5. Lively and Stirring

Chap 9: Rationale for renaming figures

Chap 10-20: Figures defined:

Auricular figures (based on sound) — pertaining to the Poet only

Single words
eclipsis figure of default
zeugma single supply
prozeugma ringleader
mezozeugma middlemarcher
hypozeugma rerewarder
sillepsis double supply
hypozeuxis substitute
aposiopesis figure of silence
prolepsis propounder
Working by Disorder
hyperbaton trespasser
parenthesis insertour
histeron proteron preposterous
Working by Surplassage
Working by Exchange
enallage figure of exchange
hipallage changeling
omioteleton like loose
parimion figure of like letter
azyndeton loose language
polizindeton couple clause
irmus long loose
epitheton qualifer
endiaduz figure of twinnes

Sensable Figures (based on thought) — Poet or Orator

Single Word
metaphora figure of transsporte
catachresis figure of abuse
metonimia misnamer
antonomasia surnamer
onomatopeia new namer
epitheton qualifier or figure of attribution
metalepsis farrafet
emphasis renforcer
litote moderatour
paradiastole currry favell
meiosis disabler
tapinosis abbaser
synecdoche figure of quick conceite
Whole Clauses or Speeches
allegories figure of false semblant
enigma riddle
parimia proverb
ironia drie mock
sarcasmus bitter taunt
asterismus merry scoffe or civille jest
micterismus fleering frumpe
antiphrasis broad floute
charientismus privy nippe
hyperbole over reacher or loud lyer
periphrasis figure of ambage
synecdoche figure of quick conceite

Sententious or Rhetoricall Figures (sound and thought) — Poet and Orator

anaphora figure of report
antistrophe counter turne
symploche figure of reply
anadiplosis redouble
epanalepsis echo sound or slow return
epizeuxis underlay or coocko-spel
ploche doubler
prosonomasia nicknamer
traductio tranlacer
antipophora figure of response
syneciosis crosse copling
atanaclasis rebounde
clymax marching figure
antimetabole coutnerchange
insultatio disdainefull
antitheton renconter
erotema questioner
ecphonisis outcry
brachiologa cutted comma
parison figure of even
sinonimia figure of store
metanoia penitent
antenagoge recompencer
epithonema surclose
auxesis avancer
meiosis disabler
epanadisfigure of retire
dialisis dismembrer
merismus distributer
epimone loveburden
paradoxon wondrer
aporia doubtful
epitropis figure of reference
parisia licentious
anachinosis impartener
paramologia figure of admittance
etiologia reason rend or tell cause
dichologia figure of excuse
noema figure of close conceit
orismus definer of difference
procatalepsis presumptuous or figure of presupposall
paralepsis passager
commoratio figure of abode
metastasis fitting figure or remove
parecnasis straggler
expeditio speedie dispatcher
dialogismus right reasoner
gnome director
sententia sage sayer
sinathrismus heaping figure
apostrophe turne tale
hypotiposis counterfait representation
prosopographia counterfait countenance
prosopopeia counterfait in personation
cronographia counterfait time
topographia counterfait place
pragmatogrphia counterfait action
omiosis resemblance
icon resemblance by imagerie
parabola resemblance misticall
paradigma resemblance by example
exargasis gorgious

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