I’ve synthesized below the parts of Defense of Poesy we identified in group work:


  • Story about horses and name-dropping a famous riding master (page 3)


  • Poesy is under attack! (starting page 4)


  • Poesy is important to society because it is universal, original, teaches and delights, and is in the Bible (starting page 30)
  • Poesy has good goals and should be respected (page 10, page 53)


  • Six kinds of poesy (pg 26-29) pastoral, lamenting elegiac, satiric, comic, lyric, and heroical
  • Specific vices and virtues that poesy can address


  • Even barbarians use poesy
  • Highly respected historical figures like Aristotle use poesy
  • Other people’s credibility (the Bible, famous kings and philosophers)
  • Poesy is universal  – even “inferior” (to Sidney) cultures use poesy, so there’s something fundamentally human and important about it
  • Comparison to philosophy and mathematics


  • Not useful (counterargument: it’s useful because it teaches virtue)
  • Poesy teaches lying (counter: it’s fictional, doesn’t pretend to tell the truth and so it can’t lie)
  • Poesy inflames bad desires (counter: poesy just represents desires that are already there)
  • Poesy is unmanly (counter: even the toughest soldiers like poesy, so it can’t be unmanly)
  • Plato doesn’t like poesy (Counter: he’s a philosopher, so he’s biased. Also, Plato uses poesy himself – he is only worried about bad poesy which misleads us about the gods. We don’t need to worry about being misled anymore because we have Christianity, so Plato’s concerns no longer apply)


  • You should appreciate poesy!