John Stuart Mill's Theory Of Poetry

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John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a British theorist and political thinker. He has worked extensively in the field of logic and philosophy, economics, religion, metaphysics, and epistemology. His famous works include A System of Logic, Principles of Political Economy, On Liberty, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women, Three Essays on Religion, and his Autobiography. In his essay, “What Is Poetry?”, Mill makes an attempt to clear up the conception which mankind already attach to poetry, and put forth a theory which has been a guide in the usage of the term ‘poetry’. Mill begins by saying that their have been various opinions and answers to a single question of what poetry is; stating clearly that poetry is not just about metrical composition. The concept of poetry, as Mill says, has something very distinct or individualistic in its nature which makes it stands out even in a work of prose. The distinct characteristic which Mill talks about as he says, “does not even require the instrument of words”. By saying this, Mill reaffirms the idea with which he begins with, that poetry is not just a metrical composition. It is not merely a game of words. It is about “musical sounds” and “visible ones”. Poetry therefore lies beyond and beneath the apparent surface of words. We see a resemblance of the Romantic idea of poetry as Mill goes on to say, “the object of poetry is confessedly to act upon the emotions”. That poetry is sufficiently differentiable from its logical opposite, that

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