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Sir Philip Sydney "Apology for Poetry"

Poetry as “first light-giver to ignorance”
“the great passport” to knowledge
“it beautifies our mother tongue”

Poet as “Vates”
Romans saw poets as diviners, seers: poetry as divine (Psalms as example): more attentive to what’s possible than the general public

Claims that even philosopher Plato
had poetry as the skin to his philosophy

Poet as Maker
poets rise above nature by inventing things to be better than they are in nature, “not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging only within the zodiac of his own wit”

how do we keep from hubris?
give credit to the Maker of the maker since “our erected wit maketh us know what perfection is”: general and special revelation

Poesy is mimesis, a…
speaking picture

dulce et utile
to grab men in the delight of language and so move them unto goodness

1) imitation of divinity
2) philosophical
3) imitation to teach & delight

Poet better than philosopher and historian
philosopher too vague and historian too particular: poets draw combine the general notion with a particular example (speaking picture)

Praxis over Gnosis
Action over just knowledge: must be moved rather than just taught

Aristotle – monsters made delightful through poetry
“Who readeth Aeneas carrying old Anchises on his back, that wisheth not it were his fortune to perform so excellent an act?”

1) There is much else aside from Poetry better to spend time with
1) none moves so much to virtue as poetry: “good is not good because better is better”

2) Poetry is the mother of lies
2) poetry is the least of lies because it affirms nothing. Everyone knows poetry is all in imagination, not actually real. Doctors and astronomers greater liars for they claim fact

3) Abuseth man’s wit
3) Man abuses poetry’s wit

4) Plato banished poetry
4) Plato really banished the ABUSE of poetry

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