Why does Sir Philip Sidney in ' An Apology to Poetry' shed light on the creator rather than  on the creation?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Sir Philip Sidney was an advocate of learning and wanted people to use every opportunity to better their understanding. In An Apology for Poetry also called Defence of Poesie, he defends the use of poetry in teaching and expanding worldviews, being more available to the majority of people, unlike philosophy which "teacheth them that are already taught" and being less direct in its ability to teach general principles than history. 

Poetry is powerful and has the ability to reach people, stirring them to "virtuous" action by combining the merits of philosophy and history. It moderates between philosophy and history and is almost faultless as it "nothing affirms, and therefore never lieth." Man must strive to "as high a perfection" as is possible and poetry can unite thought.

To be effective, man must use his own "divine" knowledge and, excusing poor poetry, can benefit from a "purifying of wit." Nature can be "brazen" whereas poetry is "golden" and the Greeks and Romans called their poets “makers,”as in creators. The "fore-conceit to which Sidney refers reveals his tendency towards creator rather than creation - "the poet hath that idea"- and there is power which enables man to "learn why and how that maker made him."  A physical reference is far stronger than a purely spiritual one, enabling man to act against his "infected will."

It is the "most notable poets" who allow the formation of "a speaking picture--with this end, to teach and delight." Even Jesus used parables to explain his message. Orators and prophets use poetic explanations. Hence, focusing on concrete methods of teaching, creation itself being very interpretative, ensures that messages are not lost and that all mankind can benefit from the teachings of poetry such as they have from the Bible, which itself is highly poetic, Sidney stresses. 

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