Utility may either express the means of producing the former or the latter. But in periods of the decay of social life, the drama sympathizes with that decay. For instance, he argues against the way in which poetry was misaligned with youth, the effeminate and the timorous. It is generally believed that he was at least partly motivated by , 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. The practice is indeed convenient and popular, and to be preferred, especially in such composition as includes much action: but every great poet must inevitably innovate upon the example of his predecessors in the exact structure of his peculiar versification.
The human mind could never, except by the intervention of these excitements, have been awakened to the invention of the grosser sciences, and that application of analytical reasoning to the aberrations of society, which it is now attempted to exalt over the direct expression of the inventive and creative faculty itself. All the authors of revolutions in opinion are not only necessarily poets as they are inventors, nor even as their words unveil the permanent analogy of things by images which participate in the life of truth; but as their periods are harmonious and rhythmical, and contain in themselves the elements of verse; being the echo of the eternal music. 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. Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man. Here, his views share similarities with Aristotle, who said that a poet is not only an imitator but also a creator.
But poets have been challenged to resign the civic crown to reasoners and mechanists, on another plea. Poetry is not just to induce delight and pleasure, which granted, it does well. But there is nothing necessarily evil in this error, and thus cruelty, envy, revenge, avarice, and the passions purely evil have never formed any portion of the popular imputations on the lives of poets. The production and assurance of pleasure in this highest sense is true utility. While Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge merely worked to define and express the injustices of various powers in the years leading up to and then during the French Revolution, Shelley and Byron took more of a call-to-arms approach. His Vita Nuova is an inexhaustible fountain of purity of sentiment and language: it is the idealized history of that period, and those intervals of his life which were dedicated to love.
A poet has the dual role of legislator and prophet as he can see what needs to be rectified in the present as well as being able to see the future scenario in the face of the society of his day. But we judge from partial evidence, and we judge perhaps partially. Milton stood alone illuminating an age unworthy of him. Lucretius is in the highest, and in a very high sense, a creator. For the Athenians employed language, action, music, painting, the dance, and religious institutions, to produce a common effect in the representation of the highest idealism of passion and of power; each division in the art was made perfect in its kind of artists of the most consummate skill, and was disciplined into a beautiful proportion and unity one towards the other.
Poetry, and the principle of Self, of which money is the visible incarnation, are the God and Mammon of the world. Shelley places poets on a pedestal higher than any other being. Those in whom it exists in excess are poets, in the most universal sense of the word; and the pleasure resulting from the manner in which they express the influence of society or nature upon their own minds, communicates itself to others, and gathers a sort of reduplication from that community. A child at play by itself will express its delight by its voice and motions; and every inflexion of tone and every gesture will bear exact relation to a corresponding antitype in the pleasurable impressions which awakened it; it will be the reflected image of that impression; and as the lyre trembles and sounds after the wind has died away, so the child seeks, by prolonging in its voice and motions the duration of the effect, to prolong also a consciousness of the cause. But his doctrines seem to have been quickly distorted. Shelley's modern argument for poetry is cast in a Romantic strain in his critical work titled.
The social sympathies, or those laws from which, as from its elements, society results, begin to develop themselves from the moment that two human beings coexist; the future is contained within the present, as the plant within the seed; and equality, diversity, unity, contrast, mutual dependence, become the principles alone capable of affording the motives according to which the will of a social being is determined to action, inasmuch as he is social; and constitute pleasure in sensation, virtue in sentiment, beauty in art, truth in reasoning, and love in the intercourse of kind. In this way, Shelley defends poetry from the charges made by Peacock, for whom poets are no more than semi- barbarians do. The parts of a composition may be poetical, without the composition as a whole being a poem. It compels us to feel that which we perceive, and to imagine that which we know. Of no other epoch in the history of our species have we records and fragments stamped so visibly with the image of the divinity in man. The same revolutions within a narrower sphere had place in ancient Rome; but the actions and forms of its social life never seem to have been perfectly saturated with the poetical element.
In 1811 he met and eloped to Edinburgh with Harriet Westbrook and, one year later, went with her and her older sister first to Dublin, then to Devon and North Wales, where they stayed for six months into 1813. Livy is instinct with poetry. The chosen delicacy of expressions of the latter are as a mist of light which conceal from us the intense and exceeding truth of his conceptions of nature. 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 made copious and ample amends for their subjection, by filling all the interstices of their subjects with living images. Language, colour, religion, society cannot be called poetry as they are mere tools.
In the works of Dante and Milton there consists a bridge between the past and the present. In relation to the objects which delight a child these expressions are what poetry is to higher objects. Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Keats, Shelley, Hunt and their Circle. At length the ancient system of religion and manners had fulfilled the circle of its revolutions. Ennius, Varro, Pacuvius, and Accius, all great poets, have been lost. And let us not circumscribe the effects of the bucolic and erotic poetry within the limits of the sensibility of those to whom it was addressed.