from Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

Bourgeois society is ruled by equivalence. It makes dissimilar things comparable by reducing them to abstract quantities. For the Enlightenment, anything which cannot be resolved into numbers, and ultimately into one, is illusion; modern positivism consigns it to poetry. Unity remains the watchword from Parmenides to Russell. All gods and qualities must be destroyed. — Dialectic of Enlightenment, pg 5-6.


A Defense of Poetry (shunan)

During the French Revolution and Industrial Revolution. We see how the environment changes rapidly by the influences of ideal rational life and technology of science etc. Those tools push the people to step ahead further that makes them question the world by breaking the rules and orders. People acknowledged from the new ideas that flowing around. When there is a time for changing, there must be someone out there to motivate and influences people’s minds to create a new world that satisfied everyone’s needs. Poetry had made a significant contribution by awakening the people into a new era. People often say that poetry is nothing but just some words on a piece of paper that has no impact on the society. Yes, we all agree that poetry is a type of a recording tool, but what makes it interesting is that it has feelings that connect to the readers who are reading it. By reading the poetry, you can retrieve the author’s emotions at that moment and link it with your personal experiences. Poets often use allusion metaphor to turn abstract ideas into reality which create a strong connection between readers and the writers. Poetry can also see as an invisible conversation which the readers may to comprehends the meaning behind the words. Shelley also suggest that poetry could be used in a traditional way. People pass down lessons by reading at those works. It reflects one’s culture. Poetry is a place for ideas expression. It states “The most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution, is poetry.” It shows how poet can influence people’s mind and opinion by expressing their own thoughts, however, it’s not necessary for people to follow blindly. Overall, poetry was a great powerful tool that has ability to communicate people’s feelings and fast-forward the revolution.


Defense of Poetry (Juhui Chen)

Enlightenment which is an intellectual movement, emphasizing reason rather than tradition. It was heavily influenced people’s mind and behavior. The movement was seeking the truth in the sciences to consider different approaches or theory of knowledge. The enlightenment made people realize the importance of reason and the usefulness of science. During the movement in the late 17th and 18th centuries, people tried to rationalize everything by using scientific ways. This movement caused a chaos of nature, people became having the less visceral feeling of nature.

In Thomas Love Peacock’s article “The Four Ages of Poetry,” he claims that intelligent men should stop wasting time on writing poetry and applying the sciences to their lives, which would improve the world.  By contrary, Shelly has a totally different opinion with Peacock. He thinks people should go back to nature, and to explore what is the world really like. People need the freedom to think, by themselves, and to be more romantic to experience their lives. As a response of Peacock’s point of view. Shelley had published an article “The Defense of Poetry,” Shelley argues that poetry took effect on people’s life. It has significant functions in people’s lives.  Shelley strongly believes that poetry can make people and society better. In his article, he mentions “Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best mind. We are aware of evanescent visitations of thought and feeling sometimes associated with place or person, sometimes regarding our own mind alone, and always arising unforeseen and departing unbidden…….”  Shelly thinks poetry is kind of a special language to convey human’s impulse and inward feeling, the unique rhythm, and order made poetry become creative and delightful. When people read the words, you might see or feel something different. You wouldn’t just rest on the literal meaning of the words, you would go deeper and touch something you can’t touch like: love, virtue, and friendships. Poetry is the best language to describe and convey some intangible things around people. By using some rhetoric skills like metaphor, personification, and symbolism; people can easily express themselves. Sherry thinks poetry’s task is a vehicle to connect humanity and nature, to connect the beauty and goodness. Poetry is the power of art to improve society


A Defense of Poetry [ Aaron Lai ]



French enlightenment was an activity predominantly governed by science and rationality. During that period of time, citizen believe that science and rationality is authority which governs the community and deduct citizen’s action. However, Shelley thinks enlightenment activity ignored the most fundamental merits in community which are passion and emotion. Poets are a group of people who can aware of evanescent things in the world Poetry helps people capture this beautiful world like camera. Thus, the task of poetry is to record many evanescent moments which are important for people, keeping the moral things in the world which is love and emotion. Shelley said: “Poets are not only subject to these experience as spirits of the most refined organization, but they can color all that they combine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world”. Poetry record the vanishing moment and emotional experience by language.


Shelley said “The most unfailing herald, companion and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution is Poetry.” During the enlightenment period, man and nature are supreme over other things which are humanity and emotion. Shelley was a rebellious poet who always had skeptical and critical thinking to certain things which govern most people’s mind. She argues that citizen were lack of new thoughts and revolution Citizen ignore the importance of poetry which stands for the spirits of human beings.

In Shelley’s mind, she resisted against enlightenment activity the ideal world is supposed to base on humanity which can never being replaced by nature and man. The existence of poetry is to keep pure and external thing which is moral progress that is more essential than science progress. This idea also applies to modern society, regardless how science develops, moral is the most essential things, and poetry is the way to express it.


A Defense of Poetry(Shelley)—Ying He

After I read some responses to the French Revolution, I think an enlightened view means that people change their mind  and have their own reason.  Throughout the readings from the French Revolution, French Revolution change the status of the entire society. For example, in the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens,  it said that: “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights” this illustrates that all men have equal rights to do what they want to do. After that, in The Rights of Women, De Gouges question the deficiency of the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens, and he pointed out that women is born free and remain equal to man in rights and people should remove the social distinction. Compared to these two works, I felt the progress during the society because people have different point of views due to the enlightened view. In both works, authors use language and words to convey and express their opinion and let others recognized the importance of equality.
In my opinion, I believe that poetry have the same purpose as the other literature works which is to express and convey their own ideas or opinions, but poetry is more difficult than other types of literature works because poets should use limit words to express their ideas. Shelley is one of the most famous poets in the world, his ” Defense for Poetry” express clearly about the purpose of poetry. In Shelley’s view, he writes: ” Poetry thus makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful….” The task of poetry for Shelley is to record the most important moment to remind people that what was happening. Shelley believes that the poetry not only can arouse people’s strong felling, but also it can put people into the scene that the poem depicts. In addition, Shelley mentions, ” the most unfailing herald, companion , and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial in opinion or institution, is poetry.” This describes the function of poetry during the revolution. People can depicts the situation of the society by poem to convey their feelings and let people recognized the unfair or darkness of the society and thus to make change. On the whole, in Shelley’s view, poetry is the most important works and poetry has the supreme power comparing to other types of works.


French Revolution and ideal thoughts of shelley’s poetry

Many things were changed by “French Revolution”.   Getting more equal statue, what is “right”, civil revolution, all ambiguous circumstances made them hard to figure out which side was good or not.  Generally, citizens did not want to obey their monarchy anymore.  They kept asking questions to themselves what is equality and human rights.  As I stated above, royalty and monarchy could not find in France due to the revolution.  Moreover, it directly brought the civil revolution and also made people to notice the importance of enlightenment theory as well.

According to the rights of man and citizen, “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.  Social distinctions can be based only upon public utility”, all people are having rights to fight for their privileges.  I firmly believe that all these brought many changes for many countries and also inspired people to think about several different perspectives.

One of the most influential British poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley, pursued love, pleasure, ideology, and freedom.  He believes poetry is formed by truly love.  Also poetry is presenting for our life.  In other words, without poetry, we cannot express and share our thoughts to each other.  Society does not sustain anymore, and government is collapsed and perished.  Only few principles that Shelley implicated our ideal life.  Personally, these were so abstract and ambiguous that I was not able to understand and link those together. I believe that the main purpose of his poetry and French revolution are connected each other that it indicates our pleasures especially in our ultimate life pattern.


A Defense of Poetry, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Yanmei)

French Revolution destroyed the old order and social situation, which also leaded in the changes of people’s minds in different classes. After French Revolution, people tend to advocate “liberty, equality, and fraternity”. In this way, French Revolution actually drives Romanticism and the spirit of French Revolution becomes the foundation of Romanticism.

According to “A Defense of Poetry”, Shelley defined poetry as “the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds”. Human beings in the society are all emotional creatures, and poetry allows people to express feeling with language. In addition, Shelley thought that “poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man”. It also shows that poetry can help people to express themselves. As for poets, Shelley considered them as “the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration”, because in poetry, there are combinations of a large amount of unapprehended thought. The reason that poetry can bring civilization to the society is poets are able to shift people’s mind into language. However, poets are not only the authors, but also “the unacknowledged legislators of the world”, because Shelley believes poets have the mortal power, who have ability to tell right and wrong. In other words, poets have to be reasonable.

Romanticism focused on the absolute freedom of creating and expressing. It means the content of poetry should be uncontrollable. Romantics requested to stop those outmoded rules and taboos of Classicism. For Shelley, poetry, which is like a mirror, has ability to reveal both of the beautiful side and the hidden ugly side of the world. This is the most important function of poetry. People are not only supposed to accept the society, but also to deal with the social problems. And poetry is a way to awaken people and let people know what is right and what is wrong.

All in all, during the period of Enlightenment and French Revolution, people focused on reason and civil rights, in contrast, Romanticism emphasized the significance of emotion, feeling and imagination. In other words, Romanticism is introspection for Enlightenment and French Revolution.


A Defense of Poetry (Domenica Cotrina)

Shelley’s take on poetry and it’s ultimate task is to revive and reanimate the past, but in a beautiful light. According to Shelley, “Poetry thus makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world”. She also adds on by saying ” Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity of man.” Shelley believes that poetry is where the past resides and that it is a “universal sense” which can transfer the emotions and experiences in a poem into a person.  Shelley also states that “It is impossible to read the compositions of the most celebrated writers of the present day without being startled with the electric life which burns within their words.” Her description of the experience of reading such poetry proves the high level of regard and admiration she has towards poetry.

In regards to the state of  a post-revolution society, Shelley believes that poets and contemporaries alike will live on in the society even after the time of war/conflict has resided. It is these voices that will live on, and hold true power in times of revolution. She claims that “the most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution, is Poetry.” She states that during times of revolution, the messages said through poetry and written works grows and accumulates.

Shelley ends her defense on poetry in a good note, arguing that ” Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” One thing to point out about Shelley’s defense of poetry is that she never fails to capitalize the first letter of words such as poetry, power, and world, even if they aren’t beginning off a sentence. It clearly demonstrates the importance of these words and how poetry is a true influence in times of revolution, among many things.



The New Times and Its Poetry—Guoxiong

During the 18TH century, there was an evolution that shocked and remarked thought human history, yet it still continue influencing our civilization—French Evolution. In 1789, in order to rebuild a better and fair structure of society, every stage of oppressions in French were joined to fight the absolute monarchy. Finally, the angry and oppressed people executed their extravagant spending king and made a declaration of the rights of man of the citizen. This success of the uprising inspired people around the world. The evolution enlightened people about freedom, independence and better future.

The enlightenment of French evolution not only affected varies of social structures, but also inspired the processing of the western literature; poetry was one of extreme examples. Before the French revolution, the poetry was typically written about the superiors and aristocrats. After then, the evolution brought the light of a better future that charged many writers’ minds about what life was. The writers began changing their subject from the upper class to the working class. Percy Bysshe Shelly was one of the most influential writer back in that time, along with other famous Romantic poet creators, such as William Wordsworth and John Keats, they all felt sympathy for the people living in the oppression by unfair rules and believed the French Evolution was a point of an upcoming new world.

“Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds” According to the “A defense of Poetry,” Shelly defined his new idea about what poetry should be and It should be about humanity. The happiest things happened to every single human being. Poetry was a universal sense, which combined the color and images in our interlunation of lives. As a response to modern poetry after the evolution, Shelly also idealized what anther meaning was to poetry. It was “the most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution.” Poetry in the past was dependent on the unsuitable principles so that writers sometimes had to compromise to authorities in most of their works. Instead of the unwilling thoughts, real poetry should be about free thinking and opinions.

Additionally, “Poetry are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” As Shelly indicated, poetry are unacknowledged legislators which nobody can defined what poetry should be like. The really poetry in the new times is about humanity, freedom, the world, and everything.


Percy Bysshe Shelley – Poetry (Linda)

The enlightened view helped people to have their own reason and to have courage to say what is wrong and right. Government and religion had absolute power and were corrupted deeply. After The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the citizens, the revolutionary government started to rule by reason. Percy Shelley lived in romanticism era after the revolution.

Percy Shelley is a poet who wrote poetries in the era of French revolution. He is one of the icon of romanticism authors who describe the condition of the time. He has his own marked reason and thought of poetry. He wrote on A Defense of Poetry that “Poets are not only subject to these experiences as spirits of the most refined organization, but they can colour all that they combine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world” The task of poetry for Shelley is reflecting the period of time in words and the reflection will be last long time. Poetry is a mirror which helps people understand better what the time used to be.

Shelley depicts the dark side of the time in poetries and, also, depicts frankly and provocatively the corruption and wrong points of England’s institution. He portrays the King as “the dregs of their dull race” and “Time’s worst statute, unrepealed” on the poetry “England in 1819”. By criticizing the corrupted government ruler, he implies the problems and how a new world should look like. He thought “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World”.