excerpt from A Defence of Poetry

A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect of by acting upon the cause. Poetry enlarges the cirumference of the imagination by replenishing it with thoughts of ever new delight, which have the power of attracting and assimilating to their own nature all other thoughts, and which form new intervals and inerstices whose voide for ever craves fresh food.


NOTES: This is the social aspect of Shelley's poetry. Poetry is not just to induce delight and pleasure, which granted, it does well. It can and must inspire goodness in man, but at the same time, it must not be didactic. It should allow for a wealth of interpretation.