Monday, 28 March 2016

A poem that is supposed to be research.

Oh sing, goddess, sing, and please tell me how
Aristotle and Plato had such a terrible row
About the status of drama and tragedy's role,
And the relation of acting to the political whole.

I'll send you, oh Vile to the library's nook
And seek out the magic of Wiles' short book.
He discussed Theatre and Citizenship
His chapter on Athens will reward a trip.

I think that I've found it, on page one and forty.
Plato explains that theatre's well naughty. 
Tragedy's blasphemy, Plato's contending
It upsets the order he spent ages inventing.

On page forty two, Wiles gets down to brass tacks.
Read the quotation, which Vile unpacks...

Plato defines tragedy as essentially the representation of a fine and virtuous life, and pictures himself as a dramaturg who will realise in the political constitution which he has devised a more authentic mimesis of the good life than any itinerant poet could provide.

So, tragedy shows the best way to live
But why go to theatre when Plato will give
A much better pattern in the state he's invented
A poet's poetics are a version demented.

When Plato talks tragedy, he's talking of the song
Certain types of music are morally wrong
Tooting on the aulos is banned in The Republic
Because it offers ecstasy to the general public.

But he has a problem with the stories that they tell
(the gods having a time of it, giving people hell).
If poets want to stay in Plato's ideal city
They need to stop showing good men being shitty.

Wiles isn't always clear on page number forty three
Suggesting Plato did not like cult of celebrity.
It's not so much he did not like the old dramatic art
But worried that the crowd were swayed by an actor's slightest fart.

But what if we ignore Plato?
He doesn't like democracy, he doesn't like the vote.
That's because Athens made Socrates scape-goat
For the chaos of the period after Sparta kicked their ass. 

The basis of his objections are the kind of thing they cause
In democracy and tyranny, alike, theatre breaks the laws
Actors can be paid for, and thus the rich can use
The magic of the drama to put across their views.

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