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The Defense of Poesy

The Defense of Poesy

Sidney claims that although many see poetry as less significant than sciences, history, and philosophy, it is just as important and influential as the others. He writes that history teaches lessons but will not teach one how to live. Likewise, philosophy educates only pieces of truth, whereas poetry expresses a universal truth accessible to everyone. Similarly, Sidney notes that famous historians and philosophers failed to publish their works in verses. In that case, they would not be prominent. Lastly, Sidney notes that sciences give information about the world, whereas poetry communicates a lasting truth. Therefore, Sidney affirms that all the sciences, poetry, and history “do give light to salvation”; hence, they are all essential to study (Greenblatt and Carol 1049). He further argues that poetry is the best of all the arts because of its explicit focus on human virtue. Notably, Sidney fails to address philosophy directly in his work but includes it under sciences, especially the sciences of politics and ethics, which were significant philosophical research subjects in Sidney’s period.

Accordingly, I support Sidney’s argument because, for sure, poetry invites the viewer or reader to understand “the mind of man, no less than his hand.” According to Sidney, an excellent poem should show an individual the full range of human abilities and emotions, which are much more important and influential than the study of philosophy or history.

Work Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen, and Carol T. Christ, Eds. The Norton anthology of English literature. Vol. 1. WW Norton & Company, 2012, pg.1044-1083


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The Defense of Poesy

The Defense of Poesy

What surprised or interested you most about something you read in “The Sixteenth Century 1485-1603? What changes in sixteenth-century society influenced the literature of the time?
In “The Defense of Poesy,” Sidney argues that poetry is as important and influential as studying history, philosophy, or any of the sciences. What evidence does Sidney offer to support his argument? Do you believe that Sidney’s argument is valid or not?
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