The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1342 Thursday, 29 July 1999.
Date: Wednesday, 28 Jul 1999 22:41:04 -0500
Wayne Rebhorn and I are preparing a new edition of The Art of English
Poesy (1589), and we write to ask your help in identifying a reference.
In Book 1, chapter 5 of the Art, the author argues that new data from
exploratory contacts with primitive cultures confirm the universality of
what he calls "our vulgar running Poesy."
This is proved [he writes] by certificate of merchants & travelers, who
by late navigations have surveyed the whole world, and discovered large
countries and strange peoples wild and savage, affirming that the
American, the Perusine & the very Cannibal, do sing and also say, their
highest and holiest matters in certain rhyming versicles and not in
prose . . . ."
Possibly "Perusine" suggests "Peru," but the word is unknown to the OED
and to us. Can anyone confirm or correct this association, or cite other
early modern English uses of the term?