The Necessity For Bad Poetry
from 'The Art Of Sinking In Poetry' by Alexander Pope
Part of Miscellanies In Prose and Verse Volume 3 (1727)

FARTHERMORE, it were great Cruelty and Injustice, if all such Authors as cannot write in the other Way, were prohibited from writing at all. Against this, I draw an Argument from what seems to me an undoubted Physical Maxim, That Poetry is a natural or morbid Secretion from the Brain. As I would not suddenly stop a Cold in the Head, or dry up Neighbour's Issue, I would as little hinder him from necessary Writing. It may be affirmed with great truth, that there is hardly any human Creature past Childhood, but at one time or other has had some Poetical Evacuation, and no question was much the better for it in his Health; so true is the Saying, Nascimur Poetæ: Therefore is the Desire of Writing properly termed Pruritus, the Titillation of the Generative Faculty of the Brain; and the Person is said to conceive; Now such as conceive must bring forth. I have known a Man thoughtful, melancholy, and raving for divers days, but forthwith grow wonderfully easy, lightsome and cheerful, upon a Discharge of the peccant Humour, in exceeding purulent Metre. Nor can I question, but abundance of untimely Deaths are occasioned by want of this laudable Vent of unruly Passions; yea, perhaps, in poor Wretches, (which is very lamentable) for mere Want of Pen, Ink, and Paper! From hence it follows, that a Suppression of the very worst Poetry is of dangerous consequence to the State: We find by Experience, that the same Humours which vent themselves in Summer in Ballads and Sonnets, are condensed by the Winter's Cold into Pamphlets and Speeches for and against the Ministry: Nay I know not, but many times a Piece of Poetry may be the most innocent Composition of a Minister himself.