Defense of poesie. Defense of Poesie 2019-01-13

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The Defense of Poesy. Sir Philip Sidney. 1909

defense of poesie

And so was the manner the Auncients tooke, by some Nuntius, to recount things done in former time or other place. And therefore full evill should it become his scholler Plato, to put such words in his maisters mouth against Poets. Wher the Philosophers as they think scorne to delight, so must they be content little to moove; saving wrangling whether Virtus be the chiefe or the onely good; whether the contemplative or the active life do excell; which Plato and Poetius well knew: and therefore made mistresse Philosophie very often borrow the masking raiment of Poesie. He put the philosopher Callistheries to death for his seeming philosophical, indeed mutinous, stubbornness; but the chief thing he was ever heard to wish for was that Homer had been alive. {46} For, perchance, where the hedge is lowest, they will soonest leap over.

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Sir Philip Sidney: The Defence of Poesie.

defense of poesie

We delight in good chances, we laugh at mischances. But now indeede my burthen is great, that Plato his name is laide uppon me, whom I must confessse of all Philosophers, I have ever esteemed most worthie of reverence; and with good reason, since of all Philosophers hee is the most Poeticall: yet if hee will defile the fountain out of which his flowing streames have proceeded, let us boldly examine with what reasons hee did it. But, if we mark them well, we shall find that they never, or very daintily, match hornpipes and funerals. Sidney, the man, is apparent everywhere in his works: a study of Sidney's works is a study of the man. Indeed but apparelled verse: being but an ornament and no cause to Poetrie, since there have bene many most excellent Poets that never versified, and now swarme many versifiers that need never answere to the name of Poets. For ordinarie it is, that two yoong Princes fall in love, after many traverses she is got with childe, delivered of a faire boy: he is lost, groweth a man, falleth in love, and is readie to get another childe, and all this is in two houres space: which howe absurd it is in sence, even sence may imagine: and Arte hath taught, and all auncient examples justified, and at this day the ordinarie players in Italie will not erre in.

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Defence of Poesie

defense of poesie

He cites not authorities of other histories, but even for his entry calls the sweet Muses to inspire into him a good invention; in troth, not laboring to tell you what is or is not, but what should or should not be. Now then go we to the most important imputations laid to the poor poets; for aught I can yet learn they are these. Among Sidney's gifts to his contemporaries were his respect for tradition and willingness to experiment. Sonnets written by him according to old fashion, and addressed to a lady in accordance with a form of courtesy that in the same old fashion had always been held to exclude personal suit--personal suit was private, and not public--have led to grave misapprehension among some critics. And while I can tell that he is being critical and presenting his arguements fairly well, it didn't move me in any way. Plutarch teacheth the use to be gathered of them; and how, if they should not be read? The latter, likewise, with his rhyme striketh a certain music to the ear; and, in fine, since it doth delight, though by another way, it obtaineth the same purpose; there being in either, sweetness, and wanting in neither, majesty. Where, now, would one of our tragedy-writers begin, but with the delivery of the child? Truly a needle cannot do much hurt, and as truly—with leave of ladies be it spoken—it cannot do much good.


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Sir Philip Sidney: The Defence of Poesie.

defense of poesie

And do they not know, that a tragedy is tied to the laws of poesy, and not of history; not bound to follow the story, but having liberty either to feign a quite new matter, or to frame the history to the most tragical convenience? But as the unimitable Pindar often did, so is that kind most capable and most fit to awake the thoughts from the sleep of idleness, to embrace honorable enterprises. For, indeed, they found for Homer seven cities strove who should have him for their citizen, where many cities banished philosophers as not fit members to live among them. For what is it to make folks gape at a wretched beggar or a beggarly clown, or, against law of hospitality, to jest at strangers because they speak not English so well as we do? I conclude, therefore, that he excelleth history, not only in furnishing the mind with knowledge, but in setting it forward to that which deserves to be called and accounted good: which setting forward, and moving to well-doing, indeed, setteth the laurel crowns upon the poets as victorious; not only of the historian, but over the philosopher, howsoever, in teaching, it may be questionable. These men, casting largesses as they go, of definitions, divisions, and distinctions, with a scornful interrogative do soberly ask: Whether it be possible to find any path so ready to lead a man to virtue, as that which teacheth what virtue is; and teacheth it not only by delivering forth his very being, his causes and effects; but also by making known his enemy, vice, which must be destroyed; and his cumbersome servant, passion, which must be mastered, by showing the generalities that contain it, and the specialities that are derived from it; lastly, by plain setting down how it extends itself out of the limits of a man's own little world, to the government of families, and maintaining of public societies? The work also offers important comments on and the. Their business is asserting the truth; they have the potential to say something that is absolutely wrong about what happened in the world.

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A Defense of Poesie by Philip Sidney

defense of poesie

Now that verse far exceeds prose in the knitting up of the memory, the reason is manifest; the words, besides their delight, which has a great affinity to memory, being so set, as one cannot be lost but the whole work fails; which, accusing itself, calls the remembrance back to itself, and so most strongly confirms it. For indeed that is the principal, if not the only, abuse I can hear alleged. Thus the first theatre came to be built in England in the year 1576. It was probably in 1578 that Sidney's small pageant, , was presented before the Queen in vain hopes of persuading her to look with more favor on his uncle Leicester and by extension, himself. But let this be a sufficient, though short note, that we miss the right use of the material point of poesy. The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away One Trillion Etext Files by December 31, 2001.

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The Defence of Poesy by Sir Philip Sidney

defense of poesie

True it is, and so was it to be played in two days, and so fitted to the time it set forth. So that verse being in itself sweet and orderly, and being best for memory, the only. But the Historie being captived to the trueth of a foolish world, is many times a terror from well-doing, and an encouragement to unbrideled wickednes. You know, to fire up a debate! {38} Quintus Curtius, a Roman historian of uncertain date, who wrote the history of Alexander the Great in ten books, of which two are lost and others defective. {85} Pistrinum: pistrinum, a type of Roman flour mill, powered by asses; when slaves misbehaved, they were sometimes substituted for the asses as a punishment.

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A Defence of Poesie and Poems by Philip Sidney

defense of poesie

Lastly, how in his inwarde selfe, and how in his outwarde government, and I thinke in a minde moste prejudiced with a prejudicating humour, Hee will bee founde in excellencie fruitefull. And so a conclusion not unfitly ensues: that as virtue is the most excellent resting-place for all worldly learning to make his end of, so poetry, being the most familiar to teach it, and most princely to move towards it, in the most excellent work is the most excellent workman. But our comedians think there is no delight without laughter, which is very wrong; for though laughter may come with delight, yet cometh it not of delight, as though delight should be the cause of laughter; but well may one thing breed both together. Let us but hear old Anchises speaking in the midst of TroyÂ’s flames, or see Ulysses, in the fulness of all CalypsoÂ’s delights, bewail his absence from barren and beggarly Ithaca. But these arguments will by few be understood, and by fewer graunted: thus much I hope will be given me, that the Greeks with some probability of reason, gave him the name above all names of learning. Is thy bagpipe broke, or are thy lambs miswent; Thy wallet or thy tar-box lost; or thy new raiment-rent? How often, think you, do the physicians lie, when they aver things good for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon a great number of souls drowned in a potion before they come to his ferry? This essay could be half the length that it currently is and he would not fail to get his point across.

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An Apology for Poetry

defense of poesie

His writing is witty at times with many references to figures from bygone days. Besides these, I do not remember to have seen but few to speak boldly printed that have poetical sinews in them. Nay, truly, though I yield that poesy may not only be abused, but that being abused, by the reason of his sweet charming force, it can do more hurt than any other army of words, yet shall it be so far from concluding that the abuse should give reproach to the abused, that contrariwise it is a good reason, that whatsoever, being abused, doth most harm, being rightly used—and upon the right use each thing receives his title—doth most good. In our neighbor country Ireland, where truly learning goes very bare, yet are their poets held in a devout reverence. And do they not know that a tragedy is tied to the laws of poesy, and not of history; not bound to follow the story, but having liberty either to feign a quite new matter, or to frame the history to the most tragical conveniency? The application most divinely true, but the discourse itself feigned; which made David I speak of the second and instrumental cause as in a glass see his own filthiness, as that heavenly psalm of mercy well testifieth. Sidney nevertheless rallied the troops as best he could, and, going to the relief of the garrison at Zutphen, 22 September 1586, was wounded in the thigh by a musket ball.

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The defense of poesie : political discourses ; correspondence : translations (Microform, 1923) [foremandynamics.com]

defense of poesie

Some an admirable delight drew to music, and some the certainty of demonstrations to the mathematics; but all, one and other, having this scope to know, and by knowledge to lift up the mind from the dungeon of the body to the enjoying his own divine essence. Now wherein we want desert were a thank-worthy labor to express; but if I knew, I should have mended myself. For poesy must not be drawn by the ears, it must be gently led, or rather it must lead; which was partly the cause that made the ancient learned affirm it was a divine, and no human skill, since all other knowledges lie ready for any that have strength of wit; a poet no industry can make, if his own genius be not carried into it. Defence as a document of the Renaissance humanist tradition. Truly they have made mee thinke of the Sophister, that with too much subtiltie would prove two Egges three, and though he might bee counted a Sophister, had none for his labour. But I honor philosophical instructions, and bless the wits which bred them, so as they be not abused, which is likewise stretched to poetry.

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