The Defence of Poetry
By P. B. Shelley
Written in 1820, but published in 1940, it was Shelley’s way of understanding Poetry in a world constantly changing. It was written as a response to Thomas Love Peacock’s satirical piece named “The Four Ages of Poetry” in which Peacock tells that intelligent men should stop writing poetry, because it’s a waste of time, and start dealing with new sciences, such as economics theories, things which will bring an improvement to the world. He says that Poetry is valueless in a world of science and tehnology. Shelley had to respond to Peacock’s piece and so the defence of poetry took affect.
In “The Defence of Poetry” Shelley starts with the defence of poetry as a whole, then language, the creative faculty in Greece, the poetry of Dante and Milton and the conclusion.
In his first section, regarding the defence of poetry as a whole, Shelley divides the mental faculty into two parts: reason and imagination. Reason is a logical process, a passive thing, that enables one to connect thoughts together and determine relationships between them. Imagination, on the other hand, is based upon those thought, enabling creation. Shelley thinks of Imagination as the source of our artistic desires. He says that “Reason respects the differences and Imagination the similitudes of things. Reason is to Imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the spirit, as the shadow to the substance.”. Through Reason the Imagination is able to create. One