How does Philip Sidney defend poetry in his essay “Apology for Poetry”?


Philip Sidney defends poetry in his essay “Apology for Poetry” from the accusations made by Stephen Gosson in his “School of Abuse” dedicated to him. There, Gosson makes some objections against poetry. Sidney replies to the objections made by Gosson very emphatically, defending poetry in his essay. Sidney does this in a very logical and scholarly way.

The major objections against poetry are: (a) “that there being many other more fruitful knowledges, a man might better spend his time in them then in this”; (b) that it is the mother of lies; (c) that it is the nurse of abuse; infecting us with many pestilent desires; and (d) that Plato had rightly banised poets from his ideal republic.

Sidney’s replies to these objections:

(a) Defending poetry against the first charge, he says that man can’t employ his time more usefully than in poetry. He says that “no learning is so good as that teacheth and moveth to virtue, and that none can both teach virtue, and thereto as much as poetry”.

(b) His answer to the second objection that poets are liers is that of all writers under the sun the poet is the least lier. The poet creates something by emotion or imagination against which no charge of lying can be brought. The astronomer, the geometrician, the historian and others, all make false statements. But poet “nothing affirms, and therefore never lieth”, his end being “to tell not what is or what is not, but what should or should not be”. The question of truth or falsehood would arise only when a person insists on telling a fact. The poet does not present fact but fiction embodying truth of an ideal kind.

(c) The third objection against poetry that it is the nurse of abuse, “infecting us with many pestilent desires or wits” may be partly justified, but for this a particular poet may be blamed but not poetry. To this charge, Sidney replies that poetry does not abuse man’s wit but it is man’s wit that abuses poetry. All arts and sciences misused had evil effects, but that did not mean that they were less valuable when rightly employed. Abuse of poetry, according to Sidney, is not the problem of poetry but of the poet.

(d) The fourth objection that Plato had rightly banished the poets from his ideal republic is also not tenable because Plato sought to banish the amoral poets of his time, and not poetry itself. Plato himself believed that poetry is divinely inspired. In “Ion”, Plato gives high and rightly divine commendation to poetry. His description of the poet as “a light-winged and sacred thing” reveals his attitude to poetry. Sidney concludes, “So as Plato banishing the abuse, not the ‘Thing’, not banishing it, but giving due honour unto it, shall be our patron and not adversary”.

In this way, Sidney very strongly defends poetry against the accusations made by Stephen Gosson on poetry.

Superiority of poetry over history and philosophy:

In the promotion of virtue, both philosophy and history play their parts. Philosophy deals with its theoritical aspects and teaches virtue by precepts. History teaches practical virtue by drawing concrete examples from life. But poetry gives both practical and precepts examples. Philosophy, being based on abstractions, is “heard of utterance and mystery to be conceived.” It cannot be a proper guide for youth. On the other hand, the historian is tied to empirical facts that his example drags no necessary consequence. Poetry gives perfect pictures of virtue which are far more effective than the mere definitions of philosophy. It also gives imaginary examples which are more instructive than the real examples of history. The reward of virtue and the punishment of vice is more clearly shown in poetry than in 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 a very attractive manner. Things which in themselves are horrible as cruel battles, monsters are made delightful in poetic imitation. Poet is therefore the monarch of all knowledge. “For he doth(does) not only show the way but giveth(gives) so sweet a prospect into the way as will entice any man to enter into it.”

The poet does not begin with obscure definitions which load the memory with doubtfulness, “but he cometh(comes) to you with words set in delightful proportion, either accompanied with or prepared for the well-enchanting skill of music and with a tale for suit he cometh unto you, with a tale which holdeth(holds) children from play and old man from the chimney corner. And pretending no more, doth intend the winning of the mind from wickedness to virtue.”


Review of “Very Indian Poem in Indian English” written by Nissim Ezekiel

Nissim Ezekiel is quite unique among Indian poets writing in English in so far as he is an Indian Jew of Bene-Israel origin. Ezekiel was born in Mumbai in 1924 and educated there. He later studied Philosophy at Birkbeck College, London. He stayed in England from 1948 to 1952 where according to his own view ‘philosophy, poverty and poetry’ shared his basement room. In 1982,he was awarded with the Sahitya Academi Award.

The poem ‘Very Indian Poem in Indian English’, written in a very light vein is an ‘Indian poem’ because the poet looks at the world around him through the eyes of a typical middle-class Indian. Apparently the speaker, the ‘I’ of the poem is literate but not highly educated. Here, the personna is voicing his opinions to a visitor.

“I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.
Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct.
I should say even 200% correct.
But modern generation is neglecting-
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.”

So it can be now easily understandable from the above extract that how different his type of writing is. The poem is in ‘Indian English’ because it is full of ‘Indianisms”, little mistakes of grammer and usage which do not resemble with standard English. For example, many Indian tend to use the continuous tense where rightly they should use the present indefinite form of the tense-‘I am standing’ for ‘I stand’, ‘Every day I’m reading’ for ‘every day I read’ and so on. ‘I’m the total teetotaller,completely total’ would be unthinkable in standard usage.

Although basically humorous and ironic in tone, the poem may be seen as an attempt to assert the legitimacy of ‘Indian English’, the English that is used by the Indians, which seems to be ‘wrong’ and quirky to others.
(Bibliography: Poems Old and New)

Conservation of Biodiversity

The most important point of environmental ethics is for conserving biodiversity. The following assertions based on the intrinsic value of species are important for conservation of biodiversity and protecting the ecosystem.

(i) Each species of plants and animals has the right to exist. Each species has values for its own sake, an intrinsic value unrelated to human needs. So, for our need and comfort we should not disturb them.

(ii) All species are interdependent. The loss of one species may have for reaching consequences for other members of the community. Killing of animals for the sake of sport or meat disturbs the whole food chain and ultimately adversely affects that ecosystem.

(iii) Human beings must limit their greed for self prestige and power; and learn to live within the same ecological limitations as the other species do.

(iv) People must take responsibility for their actions. If some organisations or individuals are responsible for polluting the environment, they must take corrective measures.

(v) People have a responsibility for future generation. In all of our actions we must think of keeping the planet clean and should not waste limited resources at least those resources which are non-renewable.

(vi) A respect for human life and ethnic diversity is compatible with respect for biodiversity.

Child Abuse through Reality Shows

Childhood is the golden period of man’s life. They need love and care for their growth and development. However, child abuse is the tragic irony of our life. Children participating in the so called reality shows has become the only religion of today’s world. For some parents, money is more important to be earned, no matter how it comes. Even at the cost of exploitation of children. Of late there has been a mushrooming of reality shows. Most of them feature children of tender age. Money tempts the parents to send their children while children have to undergo lot of incovenience and sufferings. Parents forget that it is a sin as well as a crime to earn money at the cost of their children. The children sacrifice the innocence and joy of their childhood and neglect their studies. They are forced to burden the responsibility which are meant only for the adults. They have to dance and sing at the tune of the organizers. They forget to enjoy the bliss of childhood. It is a crying shame for parents.

So, I think, this evil practice should be stopped with all sincerity and strictness.

Public Administration and some of its Definitions

The management of the affairs of the public by central, state or local governments or statutory bodies is called administration. For example- the administration of post offices, the administration of the supply of electricity by the State Electricity Board, the management of broadcasting by B.B.C. (British Broadcasting Corporation) etc.

Five important definitions of public administration:

(i) Prof. L.D. White observes, “Public Administration consists of all those operations having for their purpose the fulfilment or enforcement of public policy.

(ii) Gladden gives a brief definition of public administration when he says that it is concerned with the administration of the government.

(iii) Harvey Walker observes, “The work which the government does to give effect to a law is called administration”.

(iv) Waldo defines public administration, as “the art and science of management as applied to the affairs of state”.

(v) Prof. Woodraw Wilson defines public administration as “detailed and systematic execution of public law, every particular application of general law is an act of administration”.

The Prince

One of the most pioneering text of Political Science “The Prince” was written by the Florentine Statesman and writer Niccolo Machiavelli stands among the most original and lasting achievements of Italian Renaissance thought. As a young Florentine ambessador to the courts of France and the Italian principalities, Machiavelli was able to observe the lives of people strongly united under one powerful ruler. His fascination with the political rarity and his intense desire to see the Madici family assumed a similar role in Italy provided the foundation for his primer for princes.

In this masterpiece, Machiavelli speaks of some qualities of a good ruler. In this regard,it seems that Machiavelli is not much concerned with morality or religious values. He speaks of three ends which every ruler should aim at. They are to gain power, to retain power and to extend power. Besides these, he emphasizes on the following qualities that a ruler should possess:
* A ruler should know the art of deception.
* A ruler should not be religious.
* A ruler should look virtuous but he should not be virtuous at all.

So, according to Machiavelli, the ends are important, not the means. The ruler should choose only those means which would fulfill his political ends. Moreover, Machiavelli’s political theory is scientific and is based on his own experience of affairs.

The Prevailing Silent War

An abrupt noise had broken my sleep. I got up from my bed at a leap and tried to infer the source from where it had occured. I inquired every nook and corner of my room but I could hardly find out anything.

It was a bright and hot sunny noon when I was just going through a magazine drowsingly at a chair in a corner of my varandah before I came into my room to have a cool sleep. But my plan went in vain. I came out of my room rushingly but found nothing. In the meantime, I had heard some unusual parlences in the street that went in front of my hovel. I went out in search of the source from where the utterances were coming. I was perplexed when I found a crowd encircling a corpse of an unknown boy. Out of my curiosity, I entered the crowd and asked someone in the crowd what had happened to the boy. A horrible reply came in a second from the other side. He had been shot down by two biker boys.

But what the reason was! The reason remained unrevealed…….