Monday, February 3, 2014

Teach and Delight

I found Sidney made his greatest claim when he said, “the poet is the least liar” (97). He goes on the say that historians and scientists make affirmations to the nature of man. The poet never affirms therefore the poet can never lie. What the poet does strive for is to suggest virtuous action, “the ability to feel, react and live in accordance with the truth” (81). The poet creates a separate realm where an entirely reality exists. The realm doesn’t need to be logical or even portray truth. In providing an untruthful universe, a truthfulness can be explained. An example of this is found in allegorical tales, “Aesop’s tales give good proof: whose pretty allegories stealing under the formal tales of beasts, make many, more beastly than beasts, begin to hear the sound of virtue from these dumb speakers” (90).

Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale is an excellent example of what Sidney has described. The Miller is loud and boisterous, depicted to be sinful due to thievery and drunkenness. The Miller is an untrustworthy character, even giving a disclaimer to the tale, saying that he cannot be held accountable for his words. I think this is something every poet suggests: poetry is merely an imitation of worldly matters illuminated by language, that it is not fault of the narrator the truths that he depicts. The poet’s job is to “teach and delight” (86). The Miller doesn’t claim the tale to be true, but rather an allegory that is meant to be as Brendan suggested, “a commentary on class structure.”

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