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In what sense and how far is the genius master of his madness For it goes without saying that to a certain degree he is master of it since otherwise he would be actually a madman For such observations however ingenuity in a high degree is requisite and love for to make observation upon a superior mind is very difficult --Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling Madness in great ones must not unwatchd go --Shakespeare Hamlet Poetry is not inspiration Poetry is neither reasonable irrational or a result of some sort of mania Poetry is language through which the writer affects and as a result the reader is affected Within this one finds a cause and effect relationship Plato in Ion refers to the poet as a light and winged and holy thing and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of this senses and reason is longer in him In contrast Aristotle contends that poetry implies either a happy gift of nature or a strain of madness In one case a man can take the mould of any character in the other he is lifted out of his proper self Poetics XVII 2 Longinus adds that Truly beautiful words are the very light of thought On The Sublime XXX 63 and literary compositionsets in motion manifold ideas of words thoughts actions beauty and melody all of them produced and nourished within usthe emotion of the speaker is introduced into the spirits of those who listen andat once charm us and dispose us for the majesticBut it appears madness to raise a question on matters thus agreed on for experience seems a sufficient test On The Sublime XXXIX 83 Reason and madness in poetry are relative to the listener I will examine the responses of Plato Aristotle and Longinus to poetry and its relation to reason and the irrational In addition I will relate some
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