Function and Nature of Poetry
Parts of the Poem:
According to Horace, a poem can be divided into three parts:
poesis (subject matter);
poema (form), and
poeta (the poet).
Horace nowhere calls poetry a process of imitation like Plato and Aristotle. Mere imitation, according to him, is not enough for a poet often uses fiction and mingles facts with fancy. To him the function of poetry was both to delight and instruct: Poets desire either to improve or to please. ‘ it is not enough for poems to have beauty; they must also be pleasing and lead the listener's soul whither حيثما شاء they will.'
The S ubject-matter of Poetry:
The subject-matter of poetry should be simple, i.e., from familiar material, and uniform, that is full of wholeness.
Poetic Diction:
The function of la nguage in poetry is to express man's experience. Language is like a tree; and its words are like leaves. As the years go on, the old leaves fall, and new leaves take their place; but the tree remains the same. He also emphasizes the right choice of words and their effective arrangement in composition.
Sincerity of Emotion:
It is not enough for poems to have beauty; they must also be pleasing and lead the listener's soul.
Views on Drama:
In Ars Poetica the treatment of drama is random. No systematic theory of Drama is presented on a larger basis.
Let a play be neither shorter nor longer than five acts and let no god intervene unless some problem arises that demands to be solved.
The number of actors should not be more than three and the chorus should form an integral part of the action.
Horace studies drama under three heads: plot, characterization and style.
Plot should be borrowed from familiar material; the chorus should b e an integral part of the plot.
C haracters should behave consistently and naturally; iambic meter was most suitable for drama. Dramatic speech should observe propriety: it should suit the character, its sex, its age, its station in life, its circumstances, its moods. A god will speak differently from a mortal, an d from a woman, an aged man from a heated youth.
Ars P oetica :
The first part is an introduction of sorts, but introduces a critical principle of unity. The second part discusses order and st yle. The third part suggests how to organize larger poems, and categorize their generic types. The final section of Ars Poetica entertains specific questions about literary criticism.
P oetry must delight and instruct:
The charm of poetry does not necessarily exist for its own sake alone. The poet should try to blend together the delightful and the useful. Teaching is his business, but teaching with pleasure. He advocates the use of universal characters so that the spectator can know immediately what to expect. Any violence must be reported by a messenger and not shoved under the noses of the audience.
Most important in any stable society is decorum. For Horace, the poet must avoid being ridiculous. Decorum, for Horace, is the avoidance of incongruities.
Decorumness must be maintained in language too. Unless the speeches are in harmony with the feelings, the audience would burst out in laughter. Pathetic language is appropriate to the face of sorrow, and violent language to the face of anger. The language should vary according to the personality.