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Apology for poetry

Criticism an apology for poetry by Sir Philip Sidney

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Apology for poetry

  1. 1. APOLOGY FOR POETRY SIR PHILIP SIDNEY Umm-e-Rooman Yaqoob
  2. 2. Umm-e-Rooman Yaqoob
  3. 3. Sir Philip Sidney • Sir Philip Sidney (born November 30, 1554,Kent, England-died October 17, 1586,Arnhem, Netherlands), Elizabethan courtier, statesman, soldier, poet, andpatron of scholars andpoets, considered the ideal gentleman of his day.Philip Sidney was the eldest son of Sir Henry Sidney andhis wife, Lady Mary Dudley, daughter of the duke of Northumberland, andgodsonof King Philip II of Spain. After Shakespeare’s sonnets, Sidney’s Astrophel andStella is considered the finest Elizabethan sonnet cycle. His The Defence of Poesie introduced the critical ideas of Renaissance theorists to England.
  4. 4. Apology For Poetry: • Sidney wrote the Apology before 1583.Among the English critics, Philip Sidney holds a very important place. His Apology for Poetry is aspirited defense of poetry against allthe charges laid against it since Plato. He considers poetry as the oldest of all branches of learning andestablishes its superiority. • An Apology for Poetry is the most important contribution to Renaissance literary theory. Sidney advocates a place for poetry within the framework of an aristocratic state, while showing concern forboth literary andnational identity.
  5. 5. • Poetry, accordingto Sidney, is superiorto philosophyby its charm, to historyby itsuniversality,to science by its moral end, to law by itsencouragement of human rather than civic goodness. Sidneydealswith the usefulnessof other forms of poetry also.Poetry is an art of ‘imitation’ and itschief functionisto teach and delight. Imitation does not mean mere copying or a reproduction offacts.It means a representing or transmutingof the real and actual,and sometimes creating something entirely new.
  6. 6. • “Poetry is an art of imitation,for so Aristotletermed it in the word mimesis” • “It is not rhyming and versing that make a poet But it is that feigning of notableimages of virtues, vices, or what else, with that delightfulteaching, which must be the right describingnote to know a poet by” • “The poet, he nothing affirms,and therefore never lie.For, as I take it, to lie is to affirmthat to be true which is false” • “Poetry is the companionof camps”
  7. 7. Faiza Anwar Kamal
  8. 8. Significance • An Apology for Poetry is one of the most important contributions toliterarytheory written in Englishduring the Renaissance.Sidney advocates a place for poetry withinthe framework of an aristocraticstate, while showingconcern for bothliteraryand national identity. Sidney respondsin Apology to an emerging antipathyto poetry asexpressed in Stephen Gosson’s TheSchooleof Abuse. Gosson offers what is in essence an attackon imaginativeliterature .
  9. 9. • In an era of antipathyto poetry andpuritanicalbeliefin the corruptionengendered by literature, Sidney’s defense was a significantcontributionto the genre of literarycriticism.It was England’sfirstphilosophical defense in which he describespoetry’s ancientand indispensableplacein society, itsmimetic nature, and its ethicalfunction.Among Sidney’s giftsto his contemporaries were hisrespect for traditionand willingnessto experiment.
  10. 10. • Sidney employs a number of strategies to assertthe proper placeof poetry. For instance, he argues againstthe way in whichpoetry was misalignedwithyouth, the effeminate and the timorous.He does so byintroducingthe idea that “poetry is the companionof camps” andby invoking the heroes of ages past.Sidney’s reverence for the poet as soldier issignificantbecause he himselfwas a soldierat one time. Poetry, in Apology,becomes an art thatrequires the noble stirringof courage.
  11. 11. • Sidney writes AnApology for Poetry in the form of a judicialorationfor the defense, and thus it is like a trial in structure. Crucialto his defense isthe descriptive discourse andthe idea thatpoetry creates a separate reality.Sidney employs forensicrhetoric as a tool to make the argument that poetry not only conveys a separatereality, but that it has a long and venerable history, andit does not lie. It is defensible in itsown right as a means tomove readers to virtuous action.
  12. 12. Kinza Qaisarani
  13. 13. Discourse of Apology: • Sir PhilipSidney’s Apology for Poetry is one of the most important pieces of prose of the entireEnglish Renaissance.Sidney’s defense of poetry is importantnot so muchbecause its ideas are original but precisely because they are not.Sidney gave highlymemorable expression to many ideas thatwere extremely widespread during his period. • Sidney'streatise is importantpartly because Sidneyhimselfwas such a highlyrespected figure.If Sir PhilipSidney read poetry, wrote poetry, and valued poetry, thenmany other Englishpeople felt comfortable doingthesame.
  14. 14. Amongthe points Sidneymakesin his treatise are the following: • In the past, poetry was highlyvalued, partly because it was one of the first meansby which people learned and expressed their learning. • Many of the most respected intellects inhumanhistory have been poets and have defended poetry. • Poetry is used and valued even in theBible, the most important book for all Christians. • Theword “poet” comes from a Greekword meaning“to make”;a poet, therefore, is a maker.
  15. 15. • Philosophycan teach the nature of goodness, but it does so in ways that are often boring. Historycan describe variousgoodpeople who have lived in the past. Poetry, however, can actuallyinspire people to wantbe good. Thus, speaking of poetry in competition withphilosophy,Sidney says thatthe philosopher teaches, but he teaches obscurely, so as the learned only can understandhim; that is tosay, he teaches them that are alreadytaught.Butthe poetis the food for the tenderers stomachs;the poet is, indeed, the right popularphilosopher.
  16. 16. Rabia Ashiq
  17. 17. Purpose of Writing Apology: An Apologie for Poetriemay for purposes of conveniencebe divided into Fifteensections. 1. The Prologue • Sidney justifiedhis stand by referring in a half-humorous mannerto a treatise on horseman-shipby Pietro Pugliano.If the art of horsemanshipcan deserve such an eloquent eulogy and vindication, surely poetry has better claims for eulogy and vindication. There is a just cause to plead a case for poetry since it has fallenfrom thehighestestimation of learning to be ‘the laughingstock of children.’
  18. 18. 2. Some SpecialArguments in Favour of Poetry • Poetry hasbeen held in high esteem since the earliest times. It hasbeen ‘the first light-giver to ignorance.’ The earlier Greek philosophers and historians were, in fact, poets. Even among the uncivilizednations,in Turkey, among the American Indians, and m Wales, poetry enjoys anundiminishing popularity. To attackpoetry is, therefore, to cut at the roots of culture and intelligence. 3. The Prophetic Characterof Poetry • The ancient Romans paid high reverence to the poet by calling him Vates , which means a Diviner, a Prophet, or a Foreseer. The etymological origin of Greek word ‘poet’ is Poiein, and this means ‘to make’. Hence the Greeks honour the poet as amaker or creator. This suggests the divine nature of poetry.
  19. 19. 4. The Nature and Function of Poetry • Poetry is an art of ‘imitation’ and its chief functionis to teach and delight.Imitationdoes notmeanmere copying or a reproduction of facts. It meansa representing or transmutingof the real and actual,and sometimes creating somethingentirely new. Thepoet, so Sidneydeclares, “lifted upwiththevigour of his own invention, doth grow in effectanother nature,in making things eitherbetter thanNature bringethforth, or, quitea new, forms such as neverwere in Nature, as theHeroes, Demigods, Cyclops, Chimeras, Furies, and such like.”
  20. 20. 5. The Three Kinds of Poetry • The three kinds of poetry, according to Sidney, are: (a) religious poetry, (b) philosophicalpoetry, and (c) poetry as an imaginativetreatmentof life and nature.He calls special attentionto the thirdclass of poets, for ‘these be they that,as thefirst and most noblesort may justly betermed vates.’ They ‘most properly do imitateto teach and delight, and to imitate borrow nothingof whatis, has been, or shall be, but range, only withlearned discretion, into thedivine consideration of whatmay be, and should be.’
  21. 21. Mehak Rasool
  22. 22. 6. Various Sub-divisions of the ThirdKindof Poetry • Poetry proper may further be divided into various species—the heroic, lyric, tragic, comic, satiric,iambic, elegiac, pastoral and others. Poets generally make use of verse to apparel their poetical inventions. But verse is ‘an ornament and no cause to poetry since there have been many most excellent poets that never versified, and now swarm many versifiers that need never answer to the name of poets.’ 7. Superiority ofPoetry to Philosophyand History • Poetry is superior to Philosophy in the sense that it has the power to move and to give incentive for virtuous action. It presents moral lessons in avery attractive form. Things which in themselves are horrible as cruel battles, unnaturalmonsters, are made delightful in poetic imitation. Poet is, therefore, the monarch of allsciences.
  23. 23. 8. VariousSpecies of Poetry • The pastoral poetry treats of the beauty of thesimple life, and sometimes, of themiseries of the people under hard Lords. Elegiac poetry deals withthe weaknessof mankindand wretchedness of theworld. It should evoke pity rather than blame. Satiric poetry laughsat folly,and iambic poetry tries to unmaskvillainy. These also do not deserve to be condemned. Comedy is an imitationof the common errors of our life presented in a ridiculous manner.It helps menkeeping away from such errors.
  24. 24. • Tragedy, whichopens the greatest wounds in our hearts, teachesthe uncertaintyof this world. Nobody can resist the ‘sweet violence’ of a tragedy. The lyric whichgives moral precepts and soars to the heavens in singingthe praises of the Almighty, cannotbe displeasing. Nor can theepic or heroic poetry be disliked because it inculcatesvirtue to the highest degree by portraying heroic and moral goodness inthe most effectivemanner.Sidney asserts thatthe heroical is ‘not only a kind,butthe best and most accomplished kind of poetry.’
  25. 25. 9. Main ObjectionsBroughtAgainst Poetry by its Enemies • A common complaint againstpoetry is that it is bound up with ‘rhyming and versing’. But verse is not essential for poetry. ‘One may be a poet without versing, and a versifier without poetry’ Verse is used for convenience. It produces verbal harmony and lends itself easily to memorizing. It is the only fit speech for music. It adds to words a sensuous and emotional quality. 10. Four Chief Objectionsto Poetry • There are some more serious objections to poetry, namely : (a)that there being many other more fruitful knowledge, a man might better spend his time in them than in this; (b)that it is the mother of lies : (c)that it isthe nurse of abuse, infecting us with many desires; and, (d) thatPlato had banished poets from his ideal republic.
  26. 26. Samia Shabbir
  27. 27. 11. Replies to TheseObjections • Sidney dismisses the first charge by saying thathe has already established that‘no learning is so good as thatwhich reach and move to virtue, and thatnonecan both teach and move there toso muchas poetry.’ • Hisanswer to the secondobjection that poets are liars is thatof all writers under the sunthe poet is theleast liar. The Astronomer, the Geometrician, the historian, and others, all makefalse statements. But thepoet ‘nothingaffirms,and thereforenever lie,’ his aim being ‘to tell notwhat is or is not, but what should or should not be.’ So whathe presents is not factbut fiction embodying truthof an idealkind.
  28. 28. • The thirdcharge against poetry is thatall its species are infected withlove themesand amorous conceits, whichhave a demoralising effecton readers. To thischarge Sidney replies thatpoetry does not abuse man’s wit, it is man’s wit thatabuse poetry. All arts and sciences misused bad evil effects, butthatdid not meanthatthey were less valuable whenrightlyemployed. • Sidney is ratherperplexed at the last charge,namelyPlato’s rejection of poetry. He wonders why Platofoundfaultwithpoetry. In fact, Plato warned men notagainstpoetry but againstits abuse by his contemporary poets who filledtheworld with wrong opinions about thegods. So Plato’s objection was directed againstthe theologicalconcepts.
  29. 29. 12. Why is Poetry not honoured in England as it is elsewhere? • Why has England grown so hard a step-mother to Poets? asks Sidney. He thinks that it is so because poetry has come to be represented by ‘base men with servile wits’ or tomen who, however studious, are not born poets. He says that ‘a poet no industry can make, if his own genius be notcarried untoit’. 13. Poetry in England from Chaucer to Sidney’s own Time • Sidney says that few good poems have been produced in England since Chaucer. Chaucer did marvellously well in Troilus and Cresseida. Spenser’s The Shepherds Calender is worth reading. English lyric poetry is scanty and poor. Love lyrics and sonnets lack genuine fire and passion. They make use of artificial diction and swelling phrases.
  30. 30. 14. Condition ofDrama • The stateof drama is also degraded. The only redeeming tragedy is Gorboduc whichitself is a faultywork. A tragedy should be tiedto the laws of poetry and not of history. A dramatist shouldhave liberty to frame thehistory to his own tragical convenience. Comedy should not only amuse but morally instruct. 15. Advantages of theEnglish Language • The Englishlanguagehas some definiteadvantages. It is appreciable for its adaptability to ancientand modern systems of versification. It admits both theunrhymed quantitativesystem of the ancientpoetry and therhyme peculiar to modern language.
  31. 31. Sara George
  32. 32. Points of View/Influences • Sir Philip Sidney’s “An Apology for Poetry” wasinfluenceddirectly by both Aristotleand Plato.Theworks ofAristotlethatmoststronglyinfluenced Sidney werethePoeticsand NicomacheanEthics,bothofwhich were well known andrespectedin theRenaissance.Themainpointofinfluencewas thenotionofpoetryas moraleducationthrough vivid embodimentof characters in a waythatletviewersdevelopmorallyby experiencing vicarious situationsand undergoingsomeformofcatharsis. • ThePlatonicinfluence isactuallyneo-Platonic.It followsa medieval tradition(deriving fromthe earlierworkofPlotinusand Proclus) thatthe poetdirectly imitatesthe formsand thus can helpthereader understand thenoumena underlyingthe phenomena.
  33. 33. • Sidney seems to borrow from everybody for hisargument. Most of his arguments can be traced back to Aristotle, Plotinus,Horace, Plato,Boethius, Biblicalfigures,and others, many of whom he mentions.The enduring perspectives that findtheir way intoSidney are that, by inference, poetry shouldhave a higher purpose. He takes issuewith bothBoethiusand Plato,partly for using "poetry" even asthey condemned it, but especiallytakes a dim view of what he identifiesasthe worst ofthe "farfetchedmaxims of philosophy."
  34. 34. • In discussinghis displeasureat the lackof goodpoetry in Englishduring that time, he expresses a certain amountof surprise at thisgiven what he argues to be the fitnessof the Englishlanguagefor the poetic arts. Citingthe breadthof vocabulary, and itsgreater capacityfor allvarietiesof meter andrhyme, he considers Englishsuperior toLatin, Greek, French, Italianand Spanish.The blame for the stateof poetry in England,and for the attacks uponit, he levels not at the poets, but rather at the "poet-apes."
  35. 35. Umm-e-Rooman Yaqoob
  36. 36. Conclusion • Sidney compares poetry with historyand philosophy.He observes that poetry issuperior tohistory since it ismore philosophicaland studiouslyserious.The poet is better and more effective teacher than either the philosopheror the historianor the other accreditedapostlesof truth and morality.Poetry, according toSidney, is superior to philosophyby itscharm, to historyby itsuniversality,to science by its moralend, to law by its encouragement of human rather than civicgoodness. Sidney deals withthe usefulness of other forms ofpoetry also.
  37. 37. • Poetry is universal; the first light-giver to ignorance andthe first nurse. The earliest recordedor preserved utterance of any nation is a form of poeticexpression alone. Thepoetspeaks of both what is and what shouldbe, of whatis universal and what is particular. Poetry has liveliness andpassion which are lacking inhistory and philosophy.
  38. 38. Thank You 

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