Aristotle states that he will discuss poetry, both in general and in particular, and he will also discuss the effect poetry has on others and the proper way to construct a good plot. He will address the components and parts of poetry and consider any other relevant questions that come about in the process. He begins where it is “natural,” with the principles.
Poetics is the oldest surviving work of literary theory, which means that it systematically and analytically examines poetry. Here, Aristotle lays out in plain terms exactly what he will be discussing. The book was likely compiled from Aristotle’s personal lecture notes and journals; thus, it often jumps around and doesn’t follow a traditional structure. The use of the word “natural” here is notable, as Aristotle later argues that imitation and poetry are natural, too. The effect of poetry that Aristotle alludes to is a reference to catharsis, a key element of tragedy.