Should Poetry Be Banished from the Human World?

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The main aim of this paper is to decide whether we should banish poetry from the human world or not. In order to reach this decision we first have to get back to some of the legendary figures in literary criticism of all time such as Plato, Aristotle and Philip Sydney and see for our selves how they treated this issue and answered some important questions concerning literature. Literary Criticism is the branch of study concerned with defining, classifying and evaluating works of literature. It began almost simultaneously with creation. However, it was only with Plato that criticism became a vital force in the ancient world. Plato was born probably in 427 B.C. He was the first conscious literary critic who has put his ideas in a systematic way in his dialogues. In his Ion and Republic (precisely book X), he expressed his condemnation of poetry. Ironically, admirers of Plato are usually lovers of literary art. It is so because Plato wrote dramatic dialogues rather than didactic volumes and did so with rare literary skill. You would expect such a philosopher to place a high value on literary art, but Plato actually attacked it. He argued that it should be banned from the ideal society that he described in the Republic. Plato objected to poetry on three grounds: Educational, Philosophical and moral point of view. Plato’s objection to Poetry from the point of view of Education is emphasized when he condemns poetry as fostering evil habits and vices in children in “The Republic” Book II. Homer’s epics were part of studies. Heroes of epics were not examples of sound or ideal morality. They were lusty, cunning, and hungry for war. Even Gods were no better. This is clear in Plato’s Ion: If we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, no word should be said to them of the wars in heaven, or of the plots and fighting of the gods against one another, for they are not true (11). Thus he objected on the ground that poetry does not cultivate good habits among children. Plato accuses poetry of telling lies to children. However, he has no objection to children being told untrue stories if they are edifying stories. He wanted to tell children that there never has been quarrelling between citizens. He says in The republic: If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrelling between citizens: this is what old men and old women should begin by telling children; and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in a similar spirit. (11) Plato’s objections against poetry from a Philosophical point of view become clear in his attack on what he called mimesis (imitation). He explains that poetry does not offer reality but unreal imitations. However, Philosophy is concerned with truth. According to his theory of mimesis, arts deal with illusions far away from the truth. He said in book X of The Republic: “then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth”. (17) In his opinion, Philosophy is better than poetry because Philosophy deals with idea while poetry is twice removed from the original idea. He made his point clear when he compared the poet to the painter who imitated a bed that was designed by a carpenter and before that, was originally created by God. Plato was an idealist. He believed that Ideas alone are true and real and that the earthly things such as beauty and goodness are mere copies of the ideal beauty, goodness which exist in heaven or the world of Ideas. He said: Well, then, here are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made by God, as I think that we may say-for no one else can be the maker?.. And what shall we say of the carpenter-is not he also the maker of the bed? Yes.

But would you call the painter a creator and maker?
Certainly not.
Yet if he is not the maker, what is he in relation to the bed? I think, he said, that we may fairly...
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