IN PRAISE OF POETRY AND VIRTUE-BREEDING DELIGHTFULNESS
Here is why you should read poetry:
The poet makes things better than nature bringeth forth, or quite anew…The world is made of brass. The poets deliver only gold.
Some people don’t see the filthiness of evil. They need it spelled out in the great foil of comic verse. Then they’ll perceive the beauty of virtue.
Poetry is the mother of lies, you say? Come on now, the poet never maketh any circles around your imagination to conjure you to believe for true what he writes. He citeth no authorities. The poet’s persons and doings are but pictures of what should be.
But, you say, poetry infects us with many pestilent desires. No, it’s your pestilent mind that's at fault. It’s not that poetry abuseth man’s wit, but that man’s wit abuseth poetry. – Poetry is full of virtue-breeding delightfulness.
But of course you can’t appreciate poetry if you have so earth-creeping a mind that it cannot lift itself up to look to the sky of poetry.
(Source:Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry, ed. F.G. Robinson)