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What are the types of poetry according to Sidney in Defence of Poesie?

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sallysal1987 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted October 8, 2013 at 1:49 AM via web

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What are the types of poetry according to Sidney in Defence of Poesie?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 8, 2013 at 5:50 AM (Answer #2)

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Sidney lists five different "types" of poetry in this text which are as follows:

1) The Pastoral poem, which was considered the humblest kind of poetry, written in the lowest style. Sidney argues that even though these poems include simple country scenes based on "pretty tales of wolves and sheep," they can also include "th ewhole considerations of wrong-doing and patience."

2) The Elegaic poem which causes the audience to dwell upon "the weakness of mankind and the wretchedness of the world." This type of poetry is therefore valuable in the way that it causes the reader or listener to reflect on the world and humanity's place within it.

3) The Comic poem, which Sidney argues has been turned "odious" thanks to its abuse by "naughty play-makers." However, Sidney argues that comedy is an imitation of the "common errors of our life," which provokes within the reader a desire for change, and therefore it has value.

4) The Lyric poem, which Sidney defines as a poem of praise which is mostly sung to musical accompaniment. This type of poetry has value in the way that it praises virtues and is used too praise God.

5) Lastly, the Heroic poem, or the epic form of poetry, which takes as its subject the heroes of the past, such as Achilles, Aeneas and Cyrus. The stories of these characters "maketh magnanimity and justice shine through all misty fearfulness and foggy desires." This type of poetry is therefore just as important and valuable as all the others.

Each type of poetry, Sidney therefore declares, although different, has its own unique virtues and strengths, and is therefore incredibly important. Each is worthy of defence, and stands up to the unjust attacks made on them by unreasoning critics of poetry. 

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missflusk14 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 8, 2013 at 3:48 AM (Answer #1)

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Sir Philip Sidney outlines five types of poetry in his Apology: 

  1. Elegy: a poem that expresses sorrow and sadness for the passing of a person, a civilization, or a way of being
  2. Comedy: a poem that deals with "virtue" in a funny or lighthearted way
  3. Tragedy: a poem, often a narative, that tells of the downfall of a great man/hero
  4. Lyric:poems that express the personal or emotional feelings of the poet. Sidney was a wonderful lyrical poet, and wrote an entire series of romantic poems titled Atrophil and Stella
  5. Epic (otherwise known as Heroic): a very lengthy narrative poem (usually about the length of a novel) that tells of the adventures and triumphs of a hero or warrior. The Iliad and the Odyssey are examples of Greek epics, whereas Beowulf is an English epic. 

I am also attaching a helpful website that deals with Sidney's Apology. 

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