Essay on Poets are the Unacknowledged Legislators in the World

Poets are the Unacknowledged Legislators in the World:

Who makes the laws?- The M.P.’s and the members of the legislatures all over the world. They are elected by the people. These lawmakers follow public opinion. But who creates public opinion? The poet- by giving a message in his poetry. The poet excites the emotions of his readers. Heart speaks to the heart. The poet needs no public votes. He is the self-appointed spokesman of the people. The Poetess, Mrs Elizabeth Barret Browning, wrote the poem The Cry of Children. It had such a tremendous influence on people’s minds that Lord Peel’s ministry passed legislation to ban the employment of small children in factories under certain conditions. The legislator follows the poet.

Shakespeare’s historical plays created the flood tide of patriotism in the hearts of the people. No state-made law could have done it. The whole nation was galvanized and activized. The poet filled their hearts with pride in the glories of England. The result was that England became a world power and Elizabeth’s Age came to be called the Golden Age of England.

The great poet Shelley said, “The poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. Yes, they are unacknowledged. The world doe not feel that the poets are making laws. They sit in no parliament. The laws made by them are written in no statute book. But they create an atmosphere, a strong public opinion and these do the rest.

The world is moved not by armaments but by great ideas. Mind is more powerful than the Himalayas. “The Himalayas are in the north,” said a schoolboy. “I will bring them to south,” said a sage. ‘How?’ ‘I will move north and then the Himalayas will be towards my south’. Slavery was abolished and people became ready to do or die for the sake of freedom or for the sake of their country, under the mandate of poets. Byron went to Greece and his poetry put a new heart into the Greeks, fighting for winning their freedom from the Turks. No law could have made them into such liberty-intoxicated people. But Byron appealed to their emotions.

Sometimes a law passed by the government remains a dead letter, but a law enunciated by the poets is accepted by all. Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Or “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty, that is all, Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”.

It is the poet-made law, by which the whole world worships Love and Beauty. Heart speaks to the heart. For the love of the beloveds, the lovers have dared and done wonders and the world has worshipped them as heroes of love. No police, no military, no law courts and no threat of punishment is needed, to enforce this law of Love and Beauty that the poets have enunciated. People all over the five continents willingly obey this law. The poet sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind, which shakes the globe and draws enthusiastic support from the hearts of millions.

Surely the pen is mightier than the sword. The poet is the leader of the people’s parliament. He is like She, that lady ‘who must be obeyed’. The poet does not get his mandate from the people; he gives the mandate to them. He does not canvass for their votes at the elections. He gets no votes. By his living ideas, he creates an atmosphere and the atmosphere does the rest. As Shelley said,

“Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!”

The UNESCO says, “It is in the minds of men that the wars start, and hence peace too must be built in the minds of men”. Shelley was a revolutionary; he wanted to create a revolution in the minds of men, and then the revolution in the world would follow, as the night follows the day.

Wordsworth said, “I want to be considered as a teacher or as nothing else”. Wordsworth gave a new law to the world i.e. Love Nature and worship her. The worship of Nature is the worship of God. The kingdom of heaven would descend on the earth if we worship Nature. Today this love of Nature is the creed of all cultured men. Nature is the religion and Wordsworth is the poet. Again, Browning gave to the world the testament of Optimism. His readers obey the poet’s law. Every poet rules over his subjects, the readers; he rules over a kingdom that cuts across political and religious barriers. Take our own country. A poet named Iqbal gave to the Muslims the idea of Pakistan. Some said that it was a poet’s fancy, a flight of imagination. But within ten years, Pakistan was established and the poet’s dream had become a reality, with the enthusiastic support of the Muslim masses. The poet had created a state.

The religious prophets moved the hearts of millions. People have smilingly fallen martyrs to uphold the Law of God. It is worthy of note that all religious prophets taught their Law through poetry. The Hymns of the Bible have shaped the lives of Christians through the centuries. The Sermon on the Mount gave the law of God. Lord Krishna turned into a poet and his Gita is in poetry. The Gita and the Bible have been a beacon-light to guide the conduct of the untold millions in a way that no earthly law could be obeyed or treated with reverence. The Vedas are poetry, Guru Granth Sahib is poetry, the Quran is poetry; the gospels of other religions are written in poetry. The Ramayana, written by the poets Valmiki and Tulsidas, gave moral and social laws to billions of people. Manu, ‘in his poetry, gave laws to the whole community that have stood the test of thousands of years. Not all the legislators of the world could dream of framing lows that would be zealously obeyed by countless millions.

These prophet-poets have given to the world the ideas of God, Universal Love, Service of Humanity, Brotherhood of Man, Truth and Piety. Generations of humanity may come, and generations may go, but these Laws go on forever. The laws made by the legislator become outdated and unsuitable; there are risings against the unjust laws and they are repealed. But a poet, like his Nightingale, sings because he must, and the world listens to him because such are the dictates of the heart. The poet is the legislator in the Parliament of Man.


Akbar Theory of KingshipGrowth of Nationalism in India
Akbar Land Revenue SystemAugust Offer 1940
The First Battle of Panipat 1526The June Third Plan (1947)
Mughal contributions to LiteratureTowards Formation of State– NIOS

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