Skip to main content.

The Defense of Poesy

Gelesen von Thomas A. Copeland

Sidney envisions the world as an ideally ordered structure that rewards good and punishes evil, but this order, vitiated by sin, has fallen prey to random chance. The function of poetry is, by teaching (through delight of various sorts), to restore the original order so far as is humanly possible. This treatise defends the dignity of poetry, by which Sidney means literature in general, and criticizes the literature of his own day. Much of this criticism sounds to a modern ear like unimaginative carping, but its probable function was to defend the author against the charge of partiality arising from naïve idealism.

Albert S. Cook, the editor of the edition chosen in this project, wrote in 1890, “In this essay [Sidney] appears as a link between the soundest theory of ancient times and the romantic production of the modern era, as a humanist actuated by ethical convictions, as a man of affairs discharging the function of the scholar with the imaginative insight of the poet.” - Summary by T. A. Copeland (2 hr 10 min)


Section 1


Read by Thomas A. Copeland

Section 2


Read by Thomas A. Copeland

Section 3


Read by Thomas A. Copeland

Section 4


Read by Thomas A. Copeland