Why did Sydney write An Apology for Poetry

Question: Why did Sydney write An Apology for Poetry?


During the Renaissance, the emotional appeal of literature created a number of poets. Among them, Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) was a superior one. One of the most famous pieces of writing of his is “An Apology for Poetry” (or, “The Defence of Poesy”)

The occasion of writing “An Apology for Poetry

Sidney wrote his literary essay in reaction of Stephen Gosson’s “The School of Abuse” that was written in 1579 and dedicated to Sidney. Stephen Gosson in his “The School of Abuse” complains against the poets and poetry and also against contemporary drama. Sidney never mentions Stephen Gosson’s name in his essay who was a puritan.

Major objections of Stephen Gosson against poetry

Stephen Gosson rises four objections against poetry in his “The School of Abuse”.

  • Poetry is the waste of time
  • Poetry is the mother of lies
  • It is nurse of abuse
  • Plato has rightly banished the poets from his ideal state or commonwealth.

More Notes of Criticism

Defense of Poetry

Sydney decided to throw a reply to the attacks of Gosson. Sydney felt too much concern about some of the remarks included in “The School of Abuse”. This humiliation of poetry hurt Sydney so much that Sydney took steps to give a minute respond to Gosson. Though the book was dedicated to Gosson, Sydney never mentioned Stephen Gosson’s name in his essay.


In his essay, Sydney defended each and every objection against poetry and drama justly. He mentions that poetry and drama involved in human being deeply. Sydney defined all the charges against poetry and stood for the sake of global and endless quality of poetry that make us know why the poets are universal genius.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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