Courtier, soldier, and poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), born on this day in Penshurst, Kent, wrote the first English essay of literary criticism, Defence of Poesie (1579-81).
"Each excellent thing, once learned, serves for a measure of all other knowledge," Sidney observed.
A celebration of originality, Sidney observed that literature inspired the highest form of learning because the writer united the historian and philosopher. This "perfect picture" moved a reader toward wisdom and toward what he called "the most excellent determination of goodness."
Sidney's fine work Astrophil and Stella (1580's) included 108 sonnets and 11 songs. Written with lyrical magic, the classic included the wonderful line, "Fool! said my muse to me, look in thy heart and write.'"
A legend in his Elizabethan time and to nostalgic Victorians, Sir Philip was the model of the chivalric knight and gentleman warrior.
"There is nothing so great that I fear to do it for my friend," he said. "Nothing so small that I will disdain to do it for him."
Find a way!