A Defence of Poesie and Poems
by Philip Sidney
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{37} Dares Phrygius was supposed to have been a priest of Vulcan, who was in Troy during the siege, and the Phrygian Iliad ascribed to him as early as the time of AElian, A.D. 230, was supposed, therefore, to be older than Homer's.

{38} Quintus Curtius, a Roman historian of uncertain date, who wrote the history of Alexander the Great in ten books, of which two are lost and others defective.

{39} Not knowledge but practice.

{40} The Poet Monarch of all Human Sciences.

{41} In "Love's Labour's Lost" a resemblance has been fancied between this passage and Rosalind's description of Biron, and the jest:-

"Which his fair tongue—conceit's expositor - Delivers in such apt and gracious words, That aged ears play truant at his tables, And younger hearings are quite ravished, So sweet and voluble is his discourse."

{42} Virgil's "AEneid," Book xii.:-

"And shall this ground fainthearted dastard Turnus flying view? Is it so vile a thing to die?" (Phaer's Translation [1573].)

{43} Instances of the power of the Poet's work.

{44} Defectuous. This word, from the French "defectueux," is used twice in the "Apologie for Poetrie."

{45} Part II. The PARTS of Poetry.

{46} Can Pastoral be condemned?

{47} The close of Virgil's seventh Eclogue—Thyrsis was vanquished, and Corydon crowned with lasting glory.

{48} Or Elegiac?

{49} Or Iambic? or Satiric?

{50} From the first Satire of Persius, line 116, in a description of Homer's satire:

"Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico Tangit, et admissus circum praecordia ludit," &c.

Shrewd Flaccus touches each vice in his laughing friend. Dryden thus translated the whole passage:-

"Unlike in method, with concealed design Did crafty Horace his low numbers join; And, with a sly insinuating grace Laughed at his friend, and looked him in the face: Would raise a blush where secret vice he found; And tickle, while he gently probed the wound; With seeming innocence the crowd beguiled, But made the desperate passes while he smiled."

{51} From the end of the eleventh of Horace's epistles (Lib. 1):

"Coelum non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt, Strenua nos exercet inertia; navibus atque Quadrigis petimus bene vivere. Quod petis, hic est, Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus."

They change their skies but not their mind who run across the seas; We toil in laboured idleness, and seek to live at ease With force of ships and four horse teams. That which you seek is here, At Ulubrae, unless your mind fail to be calm and clear.

"At Ulubrae" was equivalent to saying in the dullest corner of the world, or anywhere. Ulubrae was a little town probably in Campania, a Roman Little Pedlington. Thomas Carlyle may have had this passage in mind when he gave to the same thought a grander form in Sartor Resartus: "May we not say that the hour of spiritual enfranchisement is even this? When your ideal world, wherein the whole man has been dimly struggling and inexpressibly languishing to work, becomes revealed and thrown open, and you discover with amazement enough, like the Lothario in Wilhelm Meister, that your America is here or nowhere. The situation that has not its duty, its ideal, was never occupied by man. Yes, here, in this poor, miserable hampered actual wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere, is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom, believe, live, and be free. Fool! the Ideal is in thyself, the impediment too is in thyself. Thy condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out of. What matter whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the form thou give it be heroic, be poetic? O thou that pinest in the imprisonment of the actual, and criest bitterly to the gods for a kingdom wherein to rule and create, know this of a truth, the thing thou seekest is already with thee, here or nowhere, couldest thou only see."

{52} Or Comic?

{53} In pistrinum. In the pounding-mill (usually worked by horses or asses).

{54} Or Tragic?

{55} The old song of Percy and Douglas, Chevy Chase in its first form.

{56} Or the Heroic?

{57} Epistles I. ii. 4. Better than Chrysippus and Crantor. They were both philosophers, Chrysippus a subtle stoic, Crantor the first commentator upon Plato.

{58} Summary of the argument thus far.

{59} Objections stated and met.

{60} Cornelius Agrippa's book, "De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum et Artium," was first published in 1532; Erasmus's "Moriae Encomium" was written in a week, in 1510, and went in a few months through seven editions.

{61} The objection to rhyme and metre.

{62} The first of these sentences is from Horace (Epistle I. xviii. 69): "Fly from the inquisitive man, for he is a babbler." The second, "While each pleases himself we are a credulous crowd," seems to be varied from Ovid (Fasti, iv. 311):-

"Conscia mens recti famae mendacia risit: Sed nos in vitium credula turba sumus."

A mind conscious of right laughs at the falsehoods of fame but towards vice we are a credulous crowd.

{63} The chief objections.

{64} That time might be better spent.

{65} Beg the question.

{66} That poetry is the mother of lies.

{67} That poetry is the nurse of abuse, infecting us with wanton and pestilent desires.

{68} Rampire, rampart, the Old French form of "rempart," was "rempar," from "remparer," to fortify.

{69} "I give him free leave to be foolish." A variation from the line (Sat. I. i. 63), "Quid facias illi? jubeas miserum esse libenter."

{70} That Plato banished poets from his ideal Republic.

{71} Which authority certain barbarous and insipid writers would wrest into meaning that poets were to be thrust out of a state.

{72} Ion is a rhapsodist, in dialogue with Socrates, who cannot understand why it is that his thoughts flow abundantly when he talks of Homer. "I can explain," says Socrates; "your talent in expounding Homer is not an art acquired by system and method, otherwise it would have been applicable to other poets besides. It is a special gift, imparted to you by Divine power and inspiration. The like is true of the poet you expound. His genius does not spring from art, system, or method: it is a special gift emanating from the inspiration of the Muses. A poet is light, airy, holy person, who cannot compose verses at all so long as his reason remains within him. The Muses take away his reason, substituting in place of it their own divine inspiration and special impulse . . . Like prophets and deliverers of oracles, these poets have their reason taken away, and become the servants of the gods. It is not they who, bereft of their reason, speak in such sublime strains, it is the god who speaks to us, and speaks through them." George Grote, from whose volumes on Plato I quote this translation of the passage, placed "Ion" among the genuine dialogues of Plato.

{73} Guards, trimmings or facings.

{74} The Second Summary.

{75} Causes of Defect in English Poetry.

{76} From the invocation at the opening of Virgil's AEneid (line 12), "Muse, bring to my mind the causes of these things: what divinity was injured . . . that one famous for piety should suffer thus."

{77} The Chancellor, Michel de l'Hopital, born in 1505, who joined to his great political services (which included the keeping of the Inquisition out of France, and long labour to repress civil war) great skill in verse. He died in 1573.

{78} Whose heart-strings the Titan (Prometheus) fastened with a better clay. (Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 35). Dryden translated the line, with its context -

"Some sons, indeed, some very few, we see Who keep themselves from this infection free, Whom gracious Heaven for nobler ends designed, Their looks erected, and their clay refined."

{79} The orator is made, the poet born.

{80} What you will; the first that comes.

{81} "Whatever I shall try to write will be verse." Sidney quotes from memory, and adapts to his context, Tristium IV. x. 26.

"Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos, Et quod temptabam dicere, versus erat."

{82} HIS for "its" here as throughout; the word "its" not being yet introduced into English writing.

{83} Defects in the Drama. It should be remembered that this was written when the English drama was but twenty years old, and Shakespeare, aged about seventeen, had not yet come to London. The strongest of Shakespeare's precursors had not yet begun to write for the stage. Marlowe had not yet written; and the strength that was to come of the freedom of the English drama had yet to be shown.

{84} There was no scenery on the Elizabethan stage.

{85} Messenger.

{86} From the egg.

{87} Bias, slope; French "biais."

{88} Juvenal, Sat. iii., lines 152-3. Which Samuel Johnson finely paraphrased in his "London:"

"Of all the griefs that harass the distrest, Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest."

{89} George Bachanan (who died in 1582, aged seventy-six) had written in earlier life four Latin tragedies, when Professor of Humanities at Bordeaux, with Montaigne in his class.

{90} Defects in Lyric Poetry.

{91} Defects in Diction. This being written only a year or two after the publication of "Euphues," represents that style of the day which was not created but represented by the book from which it took the name of "Euphuism."

{92} Nizolian paper-books, are commonplace books of quotable passages, so called because an Italian grammarian, Marius Nizolius, born at Bersello in the fifteenth century, and one of the scholars of the Renaissance in the sixteenth, was one of the first producers of such volumes. His contribution was an alphabetical folio dictionary of phrases from Cicero: "Thesaurus Ciceronianus, sive Apparatus Linguae Latinae e scriptis Tullii Ciceronis collectus."

{93} "He lives and wins, nay, comes to the Senate, nay, comes to the Senate," &c.

{94} Pounded. Put in the pound, when found astray.

{95} Capacities of the English Language.

{96} Metre and Rhyme.

{97} Last Summary and playful peroration


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