A Defense of Poetry
In Shelley's famous A€Defense of Poetry, €he lays out the role of the poet in the creation of poetry. To Shelley, €a poet is more than simply an artist; he is a visionary who has the ability to reveal the world's hidden truths, which most people do not see. Good poetry, then, is a mix of imagination and reason. All poems are crafted with some degree of reasoning from the poet, but it is the poet's imagination that truly gives the poem its power. As Shelley notes in the essay: "A poem is the very image of life exposed in its eternal truth." The imagination enables the poet to shape the world in a new and interesting way. Like Plato, Aristotle, Sir Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson before him, €Percy€Shelley€contributed a new understanding of the role of a poet and poetry in literature in his€A Defense of Poetry, €while at the same time outlining the facets of Romanticism.
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Page xxiii - I am now indebted, as being a work not to be raised from the heat of youth or the vapours of wine ; like that which flows at waste from the pen of some vulgar amorist, or the treacherous fury of a rhyming parasite ; nor to be obtained by the invocation of dame memory and her siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out His seraphim with the hallowed fire of His altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom He pleases...
Page 39 - Could this influence be durable in its original purity and force, it is impossible to predict the greatness of the results ; but when composition begins, inspiration is already on the decline, and the most glorious poetry that has ever been communicated to the world is probably a feeble shadow of the original conceptions of the poet.
Page 73 - Not like to like, but like in difference. Yet in the long years liker must they grow ; The man be more of woman, she of man; He gain in sweetness and in moral height, Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world ; She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care, Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind ; Till at the last she set herself to man, Like perfect music unto noble words...
Page 76 - For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
Page 76 - It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Page 5 - ... the institutors of laws, and the founders of civil society, and the inventors of the arts of life, and the teachers, who draw into a certain propinquity with the beautiful and the true that partial apprehension of the agencies of the invisible world which is called religion.
Page 40 - It is as it were the interpenetration of a diviner nature through our own ; but its footsteps are like those of a wind over the sea, which the coming calm erases, and whose traces remain only as on the wrinkled sand which paves it.
Page 46 - Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Page 14 - The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.