Written by and for a privileged group of educated readers, Elizabethan poesy was allied to the rhetorical arts and claimed as the inheritor of the Ciceronian plea that rhetoric should teach, delight and move.1 This endeavour was to be accomplished through the skilful use of figures and tropes, rhetorical flourishes which had the potential to restore eloquence to a post-lapsarian world mired in a linguistic muddle of ‘galimaufrey and hodgepodge’.2 Poesy can therefore be understood as setting itself up in opposition to forms of cultural production which lack a rhetorical, Latinate foundation. As Roger Chartier has noted, however, when we go looking for well-defined boundaries between cultural forms, those ‘cultural cleavages’ which would allow us to differentiate between social groups, we instead find evidence of ‘fluid circulation … blurred distinctions’.3