The Advancement of Learning: An Overview

Bacon explains the better world created by poetry than our word. So, it has excess to all times and places. It creates a better world of music that is found from barbarian to the modern world (elsewhere in all times). Bacon places poetry to the higher level for him it has an allegorical mode and can be used as fables to teach moral lessons.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561- 1626)

Bacon goes along with Sidney and agrees that the true poem is one which has access to all times and places. He further goes on saying that poetry is that imaginative historical desire and absorbs our experience by the roots.

Bacon classifies ‘Poesie’ into three broad groups roughly based on qualities:

  1. Narrative poetry
  2. Representative poetry
  3. Allusive/ parabolic or allegorical

Narrative qualities of poetry are used in historical verses or poems dealing with historical records and extracts. They are easy to memorize and the subject matter are war, lord etc. Bacon writes “The narrative is a mere imitation of history with the excesses before remembered choosing for subject commonly  wars and love, rarely state and sometimes pleasure or mirth” (184). To explain, narrative poetry exposes historical events such as wars in historical verses.

Representative poetry is a visible history because it enacts events and action in nature. It is close to narrative quality in the sense that it (narrates history) deals with the past. It differs only in its focus, i.e. the action. It elaborates the actions like in Narrative Poetry, but not in a linear manner. Bacon writes “a visible history and is an image of actions as if they were present, as history is of actions in nature as they are, that is past…” (184).

Allegorical poetry (allusive and parabolic also) has the immense potentialities. The poet expresses something with certain purpose; he has conceits and genius. There are poet’s arguments (hieroglyphic).

He discusses the uses of parabolic poetry. When poetry has allusions, it owes allegorical lessons. He also discusses about the relation between allusions and allegories. Parables exist in the poems and the lessons are drawn from it. Poetry often uses figurative language. So, it becomes almost sure to derive our own meaning/lesson. A single parable contains multi-meanings. As a result, poetry becomes better than other forms of expressions.

To sum up, Bacon seems to place poetry above than history and philosophy, speaking on the line of Sidney. He seems to say that poetry gives life to the history, since history is bare facts.

Sir Francis Bacon Study Center

Biography of Sir Francis Bacon

Mimetic Theory: Introduction