The third charge against poetry is that all its species are infected with love themes and amorous conceits, which have a demoralising effect on readers. But I honor philosophical instructions, and bless the wits which bred them, so as they be not abused, which is likewise stretched to poetry. Lang: - eng, Vol: - Vol. That Daedalus, they say, both in this and in other, hath three wings to bear itself up into the air of due commendation; that is art, imitation, and exercise. But I still and vtterly denye that there is sprong out of earth a more fruitefull knowledge.
Sidney's argument is that poetry is the best of all teachers of virtue. To the argument of abuse I will answer after. Yet confesse I alwayes that as the firtilest ground must bee manured, so must the highest flying wit haue a Dedalus to guide him. And again, by Tityrus, what blessedness is derived to them that lie lowest from the goodness of them that sit highest? This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. But who should do thus, I confess, should requite the objections raised against poets with like cavillations against philosophers; as likewise one should do that should bid one read Phaedrus or Symposium in Plato, or the discourse of Love in Plutarch, and see whether any poet do authorise abominable filthiness as they do.
Sidney says that few good poems have been produced in England since Chaucer. This is a good argument, but I have to disagree with it. What matter whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the form thou give it be heroic, be poetic? Now then go we to the most important imputations laid to the poor poets; for aught I can yet learn, they are these. On the other side, the Historian, wanting the precept, is so tyed, not to what shoulde bee but to what is, to the particuler truth of things and not to the general reason of things, that hys example draweth no necessary consequence, and therefore a lesse fruitfull doctrine. Certainly, euen our Sauiour Christ could as well haue giuen the morrall common places of vncharitablenes and humblenes as the diuine narration of Diues and Lazarus; or of disobedience and mercy, as that heauenly discourse of the lost Child and the gratious Father; but that hys through-searching wisdom knewe the estate of Diues burning in hell, and of Lazarus being in Abrahams bosome, would more constantly as it were inhabit both the memory and iudgment.
Nature neuer set forth the earth in so rich tapistry as diuers Poets haue done, neither with plesant riuers, fruitful trees, sweet smelling flowers, nor whatsoeuer els may make the too much loued earth more louely. How often, thinke you, doe the Phisitians lye, when they auer things good for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon a great nomber of soules drownd in a potion before they come to his Ferry? For delight we scarcely do, but in things that have a conveniency to ourselves, or to the general nature. Or rather the vipers, that with their birth kill their parents? Then would he allege you innumerable examples, confirming story by stories, how much the wisest senators and princes have been directed by the credit of history, as Brutus, Alphonsus of Aragon and who not? Plato found fault that the Poets of his time filled the worlde with wrong opinions of the Gods, making light tales of that vnspotted essence; and, therefore, would not haue the youth depraued with such opinions. Nay, in themselves, they have, as it were, a kind of contrariety. Herein may much be said; let this suffice: the poets did not induce such opinions, but did imitate those opinions already induced. Now for rhyme, though we do not observe quantity, we observe the accent very precisely, which other languages either cannot do, or will not do so absolutely.
They say the Comedies rather teach then reprehend amorous conceits. Hee meant it not by Poetrie, which, not content with earthly plagues, deuiseth new punishments in hel for Tyrants: nor yet by Philosophie, which teacheth Occidendos esse; but no doubt by skill in Historie, for that indeede can affoord your Cipselus, Periander, Phalaris, Dionisius, and I know not how many more of the same kennell, that speede well enough in theyr abhominable vniustice or vsurpation. This Alexander left his schoolmaster, living Aristotle, behind him, but took dead Homer with him. This is a read that should be taken in slowly, as some of the sentences go an entire page. Now doth the peerless poet perform both; for whatsoever the philosopher saith should be done, he giveth a perfect picture of it, by some one by whom he presupposeth it was done, so as he coupleth the general notion with the particular example.
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. Hope you will like it and give your comments and suggestions. What Sidney really resists is not the pamphlet's antitheatricalism but its antifeminism. On the other side, the historian, wanting the precept, is so tied, not to what should be but to what is, to the particular truth of things, and not to the general reason of things, that his example draws no necessary consequence, and therefore a less fruitful doctrine. I think scarcely Sphinx can tell; since no memory is so ancient that has the precedence of poetry. Poetry is full of virtue-breeding delightfulness.
So that verse being in itself sweet and orderly, and being best for memory, the only handle of knowledge; it must be in jest that any man can speak against it. And, lastly and chiefly, they cry out with an open mouth, as if they had overshot Robin Hood, that Plato banished them out of his Commonwealth. Comedy is an imitation of the common errors of our life presented in a ridiculous manner. The grammarian speaketh only of the rules of speech; and the rhetorician and logician, considering what in nature will soonest prove and persuade, thereon give artificial rules, which still are compassed within the circle of a question, according to the proposed matter. For as for the Diuine, with all reuerence it is euer to be excepted, not only for hauing his scope as far beyonde any of these as eternitie exceedeth a moment, but euen for passing each of these in themselues.
Manie times he must tell euents whereof he can yeelde no cause: or, if hee doe, it must be poeticall. The ancient marked the quantity of each syllable, and according to that framed his verse, the modern observing only number, with some regard of the accent, the chief life of it stands in that like sounding of the words, which we call rime. Those great ones who in themselues haue interred this blessed innocent wil with Aesculapius condemne me as a detractor from their Deities: those who Prophet-like haue but heard presage of his coming wil if they wil doe wel not onely defend but praise mee as the first publique bewrayer of Poesies Messias. 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 the force of a similitude not being to prove anything to a contrary disputer, but only to explain to a willing hearer: when that is done, the rest is a most tedious prattling, rather overswaying the memory from the purpose whereto they were applied, than any whit informing the judgment, already either satisfied, or by similitudes not to be satisfied. Now for the poet, he nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth; for, as I take it, to lie is to affirm that to be true which is false: so as the other artists, and especially the historian, affirmeth many things, can, in the cloudy knowledge of mankind, hardly escape from many lies: but the poet, as I said before, never affirmeth; the poet never maketh any circles about your imagination, to conjure you to believe for true what he writeth: he citeth not authorities of other histories, but even for his entry calleth the sweet Muses to inspire into him a good invention; in troth, not labouring to tell you what is or is not, but what should or should not be.
It ought to be as much a commonplace to repeat the sufficient explanation of itthat he lacked the basis and sine qua non of all sound criticism, to wit, a sufficient quantity of precedent good poetry. So doth the Musitian in times tel you which by nature agree, which not. Knightes Tale, 1185 ' And over his head ther schyneth two figures. But with none I remember mine eares were at any time more loden, then when either angred with slowe paiment, or mooued with our learner-like admiration he exercised his speech in the prayse of his facultie. But with none I remember mine ears were at any time more loaded, than when—either angered with slow payment, or moved with our learner-like admiration—he exercised his speech in the praise of his faculty.