A story of particular facts is as a mirror which obscures and distorts that which should be beautiful; poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. In , Volume 5, Critical Essays, Robert M. The distinction between philosophers and poets has been anticipated. Thirdly, Sidney implies a theory of metaphoric language in his work. Shelley remains the far more compelling 19th-century Shelley.
The true relation borne to each other by the sexes into which humankind is distributed has become less misunderstood; and if the error which confounded diversity with inequality of the powers of the two sexes has been partially recognised in the opinions and institutions of modern Europe, we owe this great benefit to the worship of which chivalry was the law, and poets the prophets. Copyright Protections: All Rights Reserved. It transmutes all that it touches, and every form moving within the radiance of its presence is changed by wondrous sympathy to an incarnation of the spirit which it breathes: its secret alchemy turns to potable gold the poisonous waters which flow from death through life; it strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty, which is the spirit of its forms. Read More This latter part, though even more eloquent than the former, is more rambling. Nature of Imitation and Imagination At the beginning, it is imitation of surroundings and the natural world with its balance and rhythm that men focus on.
It is as if the lyre could accommodate its chords to the motions of that which strikes them, in a determined proportion of sound; even as the musician can accommodate his voice to the sound of the lyre. Sidney describes poetry as creating a separate reality. But it exceeds all imagination to conceive what would have been the moral condition of the world if neither Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Calderon, Lord Bacon, nor Milton, had ever existed; if Raphael and Michael Angelo had never been born; if the Hebrew poetry had never been translated; if a revival of the study of Greek literature had never taken place; if no monuments of ancient sculpture had been handed down to us; and if the poetry of the religion of the ancient world had been extinguished together with its belief. Like a lyre that has a fragile structure, humans are too delicate to survive in a harsh and unforgiving universe. But corruption must utterly have destroyed the fabric of human society before poetry can ever cease. He also considers people like Plato, Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau as poets. Homer and the cyclic poets were followed at a certain interval by the dramatic and lyrical poets of Athens, who flourished contemporaneously with all that is most perfect in the kindred expressions of the poetical faculty; architecture, painting, music, the dance, sculpture, philosophy, and, we may add, the forms of civil life.
Thus, Shelley denounces classical and domestic drama. The corruption which has been imputed to the drama as an effect, begins, when the poetry employed in its constitution ends: I appeal to the history of manners whether the periods of the growth of the one and the decline of the other have not corresponded with an exactness equal to any example of moral cause and effect. But Shelley was able to believe that poetry makes people and society better; his poetry is suffused with this kind of inspired moral optimism, which he hoped would affect his readers sensuously, spiritually, and morally, all at the same time. For although the scheme of Athenian society was deformed by many imperfections which the poetry existing in chivalry and Christianity has erased from the habits and institutions of modern Europe; yet never at any other period has so much energy, beauty, and virtue been developed; never was blind strength and stubborn form so disciplined and rendered subject to the will of man, or that will less repugnant to the dictates of the beautiful and the true, as during the century which preceded the death of Socrates. They make space, and give time.
The beauty of the internal nature cannot be so far concealed by its accidental vesture, but that the spirit of its form shall communicate itself to the very disguise, and indicate the shape it hides from the manner in which it is worn. An example of the latter is his approach to. Whatever of evil their agencies may have contained sprang from the extinction of the poetical principle, connected with the progress of despotism and superstition. It is inconsistent with this division of our subject to cite living poets, but posterity has done ample justice to the great names now referred to. All the authors of revolutions in opinion are not only necessarily poets as they are inventors, nor even as their words unveil the permanent analogy of things by images which participate in the life of truth; but as their periods are harmonious and rhythmical, and contain in themselves the elements of verse; being the echo of the eternal music.
The institutions also, and the religion of Rome, were less poetical than those of Greece, as the shadow is less vivid than the substance. A musician or a painter need not read a single verse to be great in their art and influence society with their works, let alone a scientist. And it is indisputable that the highest perfection of human society has ever corresponded with the highest dramatic excellence; and that the corruption or the extinction of the drama in a nation where it has once flourished is a mark of a corruption of manners, and an extinction of the energies which sustain the soul of social life. GradeSaver, 29 August 2010 Web. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world. The modern practice of blending comedy with tragedy, though liable to great abuse in point of practice, is undoubtedly an extension of the dramatic circle; but the comedy should be as in King Lear, universal, ideal, and sublime. Sidney employs forensic rhetoric as a tool to make the that poetry not only conveys a separate reality, but that it has a long and venerable history, and it does not lie.
The frequent recurrence of the poetical power, it is obvious to suppose, may produce in the mind a habit of order and harmony correlative with its own nature and with its effects upon other minds. Milton has so far violated the popular creed if this shall be judged to be a violation as to have alleged no superiority of moral virtue to his God over his Devil. For instance, he argues against the way in which poetry was misaligned with youth, the effeminate and the timorous. He was also admired by Karl Marx, Henry Stephens Salt, and Bertrand Russell. To have love or move beyond our baser natures and identify ourselves with what is beautiful beyond our own self is the first step to morality. The practice is indeed convenient and popular, and to be preferred, especially in such composition as includes much action: but every great poet must inevitably innovate upon the example of his predecessors in the exact structure of his peculiar versification. Poetry strengthens the faculty which is the organ of the moral nature of man, in the same manner as exercise strengthens a limb.
The institutions also, and the religion of Rome, were less poetical than those of Greece, as the shadow is less vivid than the substance. Although he was standing up against the wickedness of authority in the name of free people, he was outcast by the very people he sought to encourage, for they disapproved of his unconventional lifestyle in love and marriage in addition to his personal godlessness. Poets are not only subject to these experiences as spirits of the most refined organization, but they can color all that they combine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world; a word, a trait in the representation of a scene or a passion will touch the enchanted chord, and reanimate, in those who have ever experienced these emotions, the sleeping, the cold, the buried image of the past. Dante was the first awakener of entranced Europe; he created a language, in itself music and persuasion, out of a chaos of inharmonious barbarians. Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds. Milton stood alone illuminating an age unworthy of him.