Monday, February 3, 2014

The Value of Poetry

Sidney forms a strong argument for the value and beauty of poetry. I would argue that The Canterbury Tales (specifically The Miller’s Tale) is exemplary. Toward the beginning of Sidney’s argument, he says that “Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, doth grow in effect another nature, in making things either better than Nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew, form such as never were in Nature”(85). I suggest that this idea of borrowing, inventing, building and manipulating reality, or what Sidney refers to as Nature, is what makes poetry a worthwhile doctrine. This same idea of using nature or natural things, then changing those natural things to fit precisely what the poet it trying to, or wants to say is exactly what makes poetry valuable for Sidney. 
The Miller’s Tale certainly speaks to Sidney’s ideas of the poet manipulating the natural in order to create something that no other doctrine could. Sidney might argue that a historian would only explain the classes of each pilgrim and recite their duties that their occupation would entail, and the specific facts of that persons life. He might also argue that a philosopher would only use the Miller’s story, tell it twenty different ways with no feeling or emotion, the only goal being understanding. Sidney would say Chaucer is valuable because Chaucer is able to take natural ideas, shape them into hilarious tales that at the same time tell a moral story that is unnoticed if not read with care. Surely one could read the Miller’s tale and see a beautiful woman sleeping with a  lustful young man; or a distant lover get tricked into kissing his lover’s ‘arse’, not lips; or perhaps the reader only sees Nicolas getting prodded with a scolding rod. Through all of this humor and tale telling, Chaucer is succeeding in what Sidney believes is so valuable in poetry, and perhaps lost in other areas of study. The ability to take something that we as people all know and recognize as natural. Then borrow, invent, and form a work of art, (in Chaucer’s case a story) that is complex, entertaining, and universally understood to have moral meaning. Where many other doctrines deal with factual and historical information, poetry makes it possible to take those facts and histories to form something that anyone could appreciate or enjoy. 

No comments:

Post a Comment