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That literary scholarship is experiencing an "ethical turn" has become something of a commonplace, and seminal to this "turn" is the use of literary works as examples in moral-philosophical arguments. So far, however, ethical criticism has dealt almost exclusively with narrative texts—little work has been done on poetry. I argue that considering poetry in this context not only expands the corpus of exemplary works but also reveals methodological caveats applicable to ethical critics of poetry and fiction alike. Poetic examples raise new doubts about the moral authority of literature—doubts elided in the narrative-based discussions that currently prevail.