Nature Poetry And Criticism Essay

1783 Words 8 Pages
Nature, Poetry, and the Role of the Criticism
What is the purpose of poetry? This question has been debated within the literary realm for centuries. However, Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope provided an answer to this question. Addison addresses the topic of poetry and art in his writings for The Spectator while Pope’s views on the subject can be found in “An Essay on Criticism.” Both authors address the role that nature plays in art while assessing how the two compare. These two authors also provide instructions for the production of good poetry. While the art of a poet is discussed, the art of criticism is also examined with equal importance. Addison and Pope believed that criticism played an important role in the creation of art and poetry.
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Pope first instructs the authors not to forget their purpose and to “first follow nature and your judgment frame/ By her just standard…” (Pope 12). Nature should remain the focus of poetry and provide the framework for the poet’s work. Addison furthers the instructions with the claim that the language of poetry “should be both perspicuous and sublime” (Addison 429). This charge to poets seems to be a contradictory statement that calls for poetry to be simple and elevated. He complicates the task more by claiming that poetry must strive to stay away from common language and overused phrases. How can this be achieved while remaining “perspicuous” to the audience? This seemingly contradictory charge reveals the difficulty of writing poetry and creating art. The poet’s job is find balance between the two; a poet must remain understandable while avoiding common language while also conveying ideas in elevated style. Addison conveys this idea by staying that “the judgment of a poet very much discovers itself in shunning the common roads of expression without falling into such ways of speech as may seem stiff and unnatural” (Addison 430). He also provides his readers with a way to achieve this type of writing by advising them to refer to the works of ancient authors of Greek and Roman origin. The language of these writers and their writing style are far removed …show more content…
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To be a critic, one must know the limits of one’s critique by acknowledging the inability to know the mind of the author. If a correction must be made or a problem pointed out, it should be done discreetly and with respect. Criticism should not be structured as an attack. Pope also speaks about wit and sense in this essay and notes that authors write mostly with wit while critics write mostly with sense. Therefore, in this passage Pope is warning critics not to let sense slip into irrelevant criticism. Critics are to be respectful and are not to stray from the literary work into irrelevant observation or inference. For poets and critics, Addison and Pope provide purpose, instruction, and ways of unifying the literary world through the mutually beneficial relationships. Poetry is meant to capture and bring awe to nature while criticism is meant to bring attention and praise to the author, which in turn brings adulation to the nature on which the poet’s work is based. In this sense, the purpose of the poet and the critic is the same and one cannot be successful without the other. The task of the poet is to find balance between simplicity and elevation of style while the task of the critic is to highlight the work and contributions of the poet while remaining in the realm of reason and civility. Addison and Pope speak of both professions as equal because they both require extensive thought, skill, and knowledge while Pope

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