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A Defence of Poetry

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This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.


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This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

30 review for A Defence of Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Despite what I'm about to say, I still think Percy Bysshe's name is ridiculous and that he was a total prat. M.W.G. Shelley remains the far more compelling 19th-century Shelley. Still, with every reading of this Defence, I become more and more convinced of its unique greatness. This is philosophically and theoretically really compelling, not a mere polemic or a poorly reasoned reaction to attacks on poetry. When I first read it as an undergrad, years ago, the thing came across as just a cute, im Despite what I'm about to say, I still think Percy Bysshe's name is ridiculous and that he was a total prat. M.W.G. Shelley remains the far more compelling 19th-century Shelley. Still, with every reading of this Defence, I become more and more convinced of its unique greatness. This is philosophically and theoretically really compelling, not a mere polemic or a poorly reasoned reaction to attacks on poetry. When I first read it as an undergrad, years ago, the thing came across as just a cute, impassioned plea for people to give a shit about something important. When you pay attention, though, when you really pay attention, it turns out that Shelley's Defence offers a great deal to think about and think through. These sorts of realizations are humbling in the most important way: they teach you that you don't know as much as you think you do and that there's almost always something you've missed in a classic text you're initially dismissive of (not saying a book or essay's necessarily great just because it's a "classic," by the way, just that there's usually a reason and it's awfully easy to miss it when you've got other shit to do that doesn't involve sitting and thinking through some musty old thing).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Flavia De Negri

    “La poesia solleva il velo dalla nascosta bellezza del mondo” In Difesa della Poesia è un elogio alla poesia in ogni sua forma. “Anche una parola sola potrebbe essere una scintilla di pensiero inestinguibile” È un elogio alla bellezza, a quella bellezza che salverà il mondo. È un saggio che ci ricorda che la poesia è utile e lo è soprattutto in epoche in cui il nostro essere è svuotato e inaridito dalla realtà. Questo saggio contiene messaggi validi ancora oggi, soprattutto oggi, quando sembriamo “La poesia solleva il velo dalla nascosta bellezza del mondo” In Difesa della Poesia è un elogio alla poesia in ogni sua forma. “Anche una parola sola potrebbe essere una scintilla di pensiero inestinguibile” È un elogio alla bellezza, a quella bellezza che salverà il mondo. È un saggio che ci ricorda che la poesia è utile e lo è soprattutto in epoche in cui il nostro essere è svuotato e inaridito dalla realtà. Questo saggio contiene messaggi validi ancora oggi, soprattutto oggi, quando sembriamo esserci dimenticati quanto sia fondamentale per noi essere umani la poesia e l'immaginazione, quanto faccia bene a noi e agli altri. I discorsi sull'utilità dell'immaginazione per la nostra morale mi hanno ricordato moltissimo “La Repubblica dell'immaginazione” di Azar Nafisi. Sono passati quasi 200 anni, ma il punto rimane sempre quello: non siamo niente senza arte. “Non c'è periodo migliore per la coltivazione della poesia, di quelli nei quali per un eccesso del principio egoistico e calcolatore, l'accumulazione dei materiali della vita esteriore supera la capacità di assimilarli alle leggi interiori della natura umana. Il corpo è diventato troppo ingombrante per ciò che lo anima.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    eliana

    "A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why." "Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    Another essay I had to re-read for college, another essay I enjoyed more the second time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paula Abreu Silva

    "... Shelley não deixa de exprimir um conceito sociológico acerca da Poesia, na medida em que a considera espelho da Sociedade que lhe é contemporânea, dela dando uma completa imagem em que todos os traços - culturais, éticos, religiosos e outros - se acham bem vincados."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a short but very rich essay on poetry-- invigorating, radical, and surprising. “The parts of a composition may be poetical, without the composition as a whole being a poem. A single sentence may be considered as a whole though it be found in the midst of a series of unassimilated portions; a single word even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought. And thus all the great historians, Herodotus, Plutarch, Livy, were poets, and although the plan of these writers, especially that of Livy, This is a short but very rich essay on poetry-- invigorating, radical, and surprising. “The parts of a composition may be poetical, without the composition as a whole being a poem. A single sentence may be considered as a whole though it be found in the midst of a series of unassimilated portions; a single word even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought. And thus all the great historians, Herodotus, Plutarch, Livy, were poets, and although the plan of these writers, especially that of Livy, restrained them from developing this faculty in its highest degree, they make copious and ample amends for their subjection, by filling all the interstices of their subjects with living images.” “The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by acting on the cause.” “Poetry is not like reasoning: a power to be exerted according to the determination of the will. A man cannot say, “I will compose poetry”. The greatest poet even cannot say it: for the mind in creation is as a fading coal which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness: this power arises from within, like the colour of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our natures are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure. “

  7. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    boni

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebeca F.

    A really tiny, but beautiful, compelling, profound and rich essay about poetry. I read it the first time ages ago and must say I enjoyed it, even more, this second time. It shows clearly Shelley's vision of poetry and art, it's profound humanism, radicalism, and kindness.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tayla

    tears

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Sukamto

    Absolute fire

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    Percy Shelley was a bit of a trouble-maker in nineteenth century England. Which is unexpected, since he was also a pacifist. Which is what I love about him. He believed in changing the world with words and art. I've read a lot of his poems. They're pretty high register -- especially "Mont Blanc," which is about a mountain in the Alps which Shelley viewed during his travels and equated with the eternalness of art and nature, and man's unquenchable desire to reach its peak. That's one of my favorit Percy Shelley was a bit of a trouble-maker in nineteenth century England. Which is unexpected, since he was also a pacifist. Which is what I love about him. He believed in changing the world with words and art. I've read a lot of his poems. They're pretty high register -- especially "Mont Blanc," which is about a mountain in the Alps which Shelley viewed during his travels and equated with the eternalness of art and nature, and man's unquenchable desire to reach its peak. That's one of my favorites by Shelley, but I also love "Ozymandias," which is about the brief life of tyranny in the scheme of things, and "Ode to the West Wind," about Shelley's inclination to see his works roar through the ages like a sultry wind, inspiring revolution. My favorite work by Shelley is his 1821 response to his friend Thomas Love Peacock's claim that poetry is dead, useless, utterly irrelevant in an industrial society where technology is more dazzling and useful than a bit of paper and some pretty words. Shelley, in his straightforward and poetic way, tears apart Peacock's claim with a piece that defends at length art, poetry, and human expression. Shelley claims that art came long before the inventions Peacock cites as more relevant -- that indeed, art and human imagination kindled the creativity which was able to develop technology. Shelley calls those of an artistic bent to use their imaginations to transform the world. He strongly believed in a human spirit which could elevate a person beyond mere existing. He experienced it himself when he gazed up at Mont Blanc -- some otherworldly sublimity which he longed to experience always, but which appeared only sporadically, usually when he least expected it. This sublimity ignites human art. He was able to find it sometimes by gazing at nature, perhaps because nature is utterly eternal, like art, while the human life is so fleeting. Tap into the eternalness, and you are in sublimity. He believed poets had a responsibility to direct the world toward that sublimity most never felt. Like the shadows playing on the wall in Plato's The Allegory of the Cave, most saw -- not life in its fullness, but life in half light. Poets are the souls who gather up the courage to escape from that cave, and realize that real life is not shadows, but color and texture and sky and sunrise and form and depth. It is the poet's responsibility to get back into the cave, let the people trapped know "There is more! The shadows are not the real thing. I can show it to you!" and do it by sculpting art. This, this is life-altering. Beyond any technology. Poets, far from being a dying race, are in fact the saving grace of the race, and to them is owed all of the developments in humanity which were becoming technology and industry in Shelley's day. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, he finishes. Thomas Love Peacock, being a poet, was of course only joking. He believed in the lasting importance of poetry and was merely goading his poetic friends on with a bit of satire. Shelley caught the joke but took his jibes seriously because they represented real objections to poetry in the early nineteenth century. His defense is utterly elegant. Peaceful, yet revolutionary. :) "Poetry, in a general sense, may be defined to be “the expression of the imagination”: and poetry is connate with the origin of man. Man is an instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an ever-changing wind over an Æolian lyre, which move it by their motion to ever-changing melody. But there is a principle within the human being, and perhaps within all sentient beings, which acts otherwise than in the lyre, and produces not melody alone, but harmony, by an internal adjustment of the sounds or motions thus excited to the impressions which excite them. It is as if the lyre could accommodate its chords to the motions of that which strikes them, in a determined proportion of sound; even as the musician can accommodate his voice to the sound of the lyre."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marios

    Is it me or is this completely unconvincing???! Shelley extends the definition of poetry in order to include all arts(even music, painting etc). This is no poetry, this is arts in general! He then distincts poetry and believes it superior to all other arts and sciences and the major(only?) force to influence societies...how can this be? A musician or a painter need not read a single verse to be great in their art and influence society with their works, let alone a scientist. He also considers peopl Is it me or is this completely unconvincing???! Shelley extends the definition of poetry in order to include all arts(even music, painting etc). This is no poetry, this is arts in general! He then distincts poetry and believes it superior to all other arts and sciences and the major(only?) force to influence societies...how can this be? A musician or a painter need not read a single verse to be great in their art and influence society with their works, let alone a scientist. He also considers people like Plato, Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau as poets. Painters like Rafael and Michelangelo. Historians too. These are, strictly, political philosophers, painters and historians. They are no poets! Their contributions cannot be linked back to poetry. I dont think someone can argue for the value of poetry in a society(as is the book's purpose) by making such broad assumptions. Otherwise it's a great read, only it should be titled differently. A Defence of Arts, yes. A Defence of Great Minds, yes. A Defence of Poetry, no.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Well, you would expect a post to write a defence of poetry wouldn't you? Shelley was hardly going to waste the ink in his quill composing a defence of tennis was he, though he may have been partial to the occasional set of doubles with wife Mary against Byron and Claire Clairmont.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maite

    Shelley has an exquisite style yet he rushes through the essay and ends caught up in circularities and contradictions. Nevertheless, an entertaining reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Another one for my English seminar; not. a. fan. Had to force myself through it and still wasn't really convinced by most of it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Shelley is always enjoyable, if at times using a defense based on what sounds good over what it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    An ssronger defence of poetry in comparison with sidney.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brett

  19. 4 out of 5

    Isabel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andreea

  21. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diana Creţu

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carl Savich

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Hilderley

  25. 5 out of 5

    The Flaneur

  26. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marlise

  28. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pol

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nick

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