The Defence Of Poesy By Sir Philip Sidney

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Sir Philip Sidney argued for the positive value of imaginative literature in The Defence of Poesy, in which he claimed that literature should ‘teach and delight’. The influence of Sidney’s claim can be seen in John Skelton’s work ‘The Bowge of Courte’ and Thomas Nashe’s ‘The Choise of Valentines’. Skelton’s ‘The Bowge of Court’, has been described as ‘a fifteenth-century dream vision built on the model of the morality play’ and ‘The Choise of Valentines’ as ‘an Ovidian erotic poem’, which elaborates ‘a tale of impotence and erotic substitution.’ While both poems are rich in their differences, due to the satiric and erotic genres, they share the similarity of belonging to a very specific time. By examining the origins d interpreting Sidney’s presentation of the phrase ‘teach and delight’, the ways in which Skelton and Nashe’s texts maintain Sidney’s claim can be discussed. Skelton teaches through ‘The Bowge of Court’, by employing allegory as a way to critique the court, and uses satire as a form of poetic council. Nashe teaches in ‘The Choise of Valentines’ by presenting his text and an example of originality and satirising the idea of performance. Skelton delights in his text by using the symbol of the ship as an ornament added to the truth of the poem. Nashe delights in his text by the freshness of language used and the originality of his poetry.

Sidney uses the phrase ‘teach and delight’ consistently throughout The Defence of Poesy, which he regards as the design of

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