An Apology for Poetry

An Apology for Poetry (or The Defence of Poesy) is a work of literary criticism by Elizabethan poet Philip Sidney. It was written in approximately 1580 and first published in 1595, after his death.

Sidney

It is generally believed that he was at least partly motivated by Stephen Gosson, a former playwright who dedicated his attack on the English stage, The School of Abuse, to Sidney in 1579, but Sidney primarily addresses more general objections to poetry, such as those of Plato. In his essay, Sidney integrates a number of classical and Italian precepts on fiction. The essence of his defense is that poetry, by combining the liveliness of history with the ethical focus of philosophy, is more effective than either history or philosophy in rousing its readers to virtue. The work also offers important comments on Edmund Spenser and the Elizabethan stage. Sidney states that there "have been three general kinds" of poetry: (i) "the chief" being religious which "imitate[d] the inconceivable excellencies of God", (ii) philosophical and (iii) imaginative poetry written by "right poets" who "teach and delight".[1]