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Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (c.1727), an English poet best known for his Essay on Criticism, Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad
Born 21 May 1688(1688-05-21)
London
Died 30 May 1744 (aged 56)
Occupation Poet

Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was a famous eighteenth century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson.[1] Pope is famous for his use of the heroic couplet.

Contents

Life

Pope was born to Edith Pope (née Turner) (1643–1733) and Alexander Pope Snr. (1646 – 1717) a linen merchant of Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, who were both Catholics.[2] Pope's education was affected by the penal law in force at the time upholding the status of the established Church of England, which banned Catholics from teaching, attending a university, voting, or holding public office on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, then went to Twyford School in about 1698–9.[2] He then went to two Catholic schools in London.[2] Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas.[3]

In 1700, his family moved to a small estate at Popeswood in Binfield, Berkshire, close to the royal Windsor Forest.[2] This was due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles (16 km) of either London or Westminster.[4] Pope would later describe the countryside around the house in his poem Windsor Forest. Pope's formal education ended at this time, and from then on he mostly educated himself by reading the works of classical writers such as the satirists Horace and Juvenal, the epic poets Homer and Virgil, as well as English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Dryden.[2] He also studied many languages and read works by English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. After five years of study, Pope came into contact with figures from the London literary society such as William Wycherley, William Congreve, Samuel Garth, William Trumbull, and William Walsh.[2][3]

At Binfield, he also began to make many important friends. One of them, John Caryll (the future dedicatee of The Rape of the Lock), was twenty years older than the poet and had made many acquaintances in the London literary world. He introduced the young Pope to the aging playwright William Wycherley and to William Walsh, a minor poet, who helped Pope revise his first major work, The Pastorals. He also met the Blount sisters, Teresa and (his alleged future lover) Martha, both of whom would remain lifelong friends.[3]

From the age of 12, he suffered numerous health problems, such as Pott's disease (a form of tuberculosis that affects the bone) which deformed his body and stunted his growth, leaving him with a severe hunchback. His tuberculosis infection caused other health problems including respiratory difficulties, high fevers, inflamed eyes, and abdominal pain.[2] He never grew beyond 1.37 metres (4 feet, 6 inches) tall. Pope was already removed from society because he was Catholic; his poor health only alienated him further. Although he never married, he had many female friends to whom he wrote witty letters. He did have one alleged lover, his lifelong friend, Martha Blount.[3][5][6][7]

Early career

In May, 1709, Pope's Pastorals was published in the sixth part of Tonson's Poetical Miscellanies. This brought instant fame to Pope. This was followed by An Essay on Criticism published in May 1711 , which was equally well received.

Around 1711, Pope made friends with Tory writers John Gay, Jonathan Swift, Thomas Parnell and John Arbuthnot, who together formed the satirical Scriblerus Club. The aim of the club was to satirise ignorance and pedantry in the form of the fictional scholar Martinus Scriblerus. He also made friends with Whig writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. In March of 1713, Windsor Forest was published and was a well known success.[3]

Pope's next well known poem was The Rape of the Lock; first published in 1712, with a revised version published in 1714. This is sometimes considered Pope's most popular poem because it was a mock-heroic epic, written to make fun of a high society quarrel between Arabella Fermor (the "Belinda" of the poem) and Lord Petre, who had snipped a lock of hair from her head without her permission. In his poem he treats his characters in an epic style; when the Baron steals her hair and she tries to get it back, it flies into the air and turns into a star.

During Pope's friendship with Joseph Addison, he contributed to Addison's play Cato as well as writing for The Guardian and The Spectator. Around this time he began the work of translating the Iliad, which was a painstaking process - publication began in 1715 and did not end until 1720.[3]

In 1714, the political situation worsened with the death of Queen Anne and the disputed succession between the Hanoverians and the Jacobites, leading to the attempted Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Though Pope as a Catholic might be expected to have supported the Jacobites because of his religious and political affiliations, according to Maynard Mack, "where Pope himself stood on these matters can probably never be confidently known". These events led to an immediate downturn in the fortunes of the Tories, and Pope's friend, Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke fled to France.

Essay on Criticism

An Essay on Criticism was first published anonymously on May 15, 1711. Pope began writing the poem early in his career and took about three years to finish it.

At the time the poem was published, the heroic couplet style (in which it was written) was a moderately new genre of poetry, and Pope's most ambitious work. "An Essay on Criticism" was an attempt to identify and refine his own positions as a poet and critic. The poem was said to be a response to an ongoing debate on the question of whether poetry should be natural, or written according to predetermined artificial rules inherited from the classical past.[8]

The poem begins with a discussion of the standard rules that govern poetry by which a critic passes judgment. Pope comments on the classical authors who dealt with such standards, and the authority that he believed should be accredited to them. He concludes that the rules of the ancients are identical with the rules of Nature, and fall in the category of poetry and painting, which like religion and morality, reflect natural law.[8]

The poem is purposefully unclear and full of contradictions. Pope admits that rules are necessary for the production and criticism, but gives importance to the mysterious and irrational qualities of poetry.[9]

He discusses the laws to which a critic should adhere while critiquing poetry, and points out that critics serve an important function in aiding poets with their works, as opposed to the practice of attacking them.[9]

The final section of "An Essay on Criticism" discusses the moral qualities and virtues inherent in the ideal critic, who, Pope claims, is also the ideal man.

Translations of the Iliad

Pope's house at Twickenham, showing the grotto. From a watercolour produced soon after his death.

Pope had been fascinated by Homer since childhood. In 1713, he announced his plans to publish a translation of the Iliad. The work would be available by subscription, with one volume appearing every year over the course of six years. Pope secured a revolutionary deal with the publisher Bernard Lintot, which brought him two hundred guineas a volume, a very vast sum indeed.

His translation of the Iliad appeared between 1715 and 1720. It was acclaimed by Samuel Johnson as "a performance which no age or nation could hope to equal" (although the classical scholar Richard Bentley wrote: "It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you must not call it Homer.").

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Twickenham and the Grotto

A likeness of Pope derived from a portrait by William Hoare[10]

The money made from the Homer translation allowed Pope to move to a villa at Twickenham in 1719, where he created his now famous grotto and gardens. Pope decorated the grotto with alabaster, marbles, and ores such as mundic and crystals. He also used Cornish diamonds, stalactites, spars, snakestones and spongestone. A number of mirrors, an expensive luxury in the Augustan age, were also placed around the grotto. A camera obscura was installed to delight his visitors, of whom there were many. The serendipitous discovery of a spring during its excavations enabled the subterranean retreat to be filled with the relaxing sound of trickling water, which would quietly echo around the chambers. Pope was said to have remarked that: "Were it to have nymphs as well – it would be complete in everything." Although the house and gardens have long since been demolished, much of this grotto still survives. The grotto now lies beneath St James Independent School for boys, and is opened to the public once a year.[5]

Translation of the Odyssey

Encouraged by the success of the Iliad, Pope translated the Odyssey. The translation appeared in 1726, but this time, confronted with the arduousness of the task, he enlisted the help of William Broome and Elijah Fenton. Pope attempted to conceal the extent of the collaboration (he himself translated only twelve books, Broome eight and Fenton four), but the secret leaked out. It did some damage to Pope's reputation for a time, but not to his profits.

Frontispiece and titlepage of a 1752 edition of Alexander Pope's extensively annotated translation of Homer's The Odyssey.

Edition of Shakespeare's works

In this period, Pope was also employed by the publisher Jacob Tonson to produce an opulent new edition of Shakespeare. When it finally appeared, in 1725, this edition silently "regularised" Shakespeare's metre and rewrote his verse in a number of places.[6] Pope also demoted about 1560 lines of Shakespearean material to footnotes, arguing that they were so "excessively bad" that Shakespeare could never have written them.[7] (Other lines were excluded from the edition altogether.[8]) In 1726, the lawyer, poet, and pantomime deviser Lewis Theobald published a scathing pamphlet called Shakespeare Restored, which catalogued the errors in Pope's work and suggested a number of revisions to the text. Pope and Theobald were probably well acquainted, and Pope no doubt interpreted this as a violation of the rules of friendship.[9]

A second edition of Pope's Shakespeare appeared in 1728, but aside from making some minor revisions to the Preface, it seems that Pope had little to do with it. Most later eighteenth-century editors of Shakespeare dismissed Pope's creatively motivated approach to textual criticism. Pope's Preface, however, continued to be highly rated. It was suggested that Shakespeare's texts were thoroughly contaminated by actors' interpolations and they would influence editors for most of the eighteenth century.[10]

Later career: "An Essay on Man" and satires

Though the Dunciad was first published anonymously in Dublin, its authorship was not in doubt. As well as Theobald, it pilloried a host of other "hacks", "scribblers" and "dunces". Mack called its publication "in many ways the greatest act of folly in Pope's life". Though a masterpiece, "it bore bitter fruit. It brought the poet in his own time the hostility of its victims and their sympathizers, who pursued him implacably from then on with a few damaging truths and a host of slanders and lies...". The threats were physical too. According to his sister, Pope would never go for a walk without the company of his Great Dane, Bounce, and a pair of loaded pistols in his pocket.

In 1731, Pope published his "Epistle to Burlington", on the subject of architecture, the first of four poems which would later be grouped under the title Moral Essays (1731-35). In the epistle, Pope ridiculed the bad taste of the aristocrat "Timon". Pope's enemies claimed he was attacking the Duke of Chandos and his estate, Cannons. Though the charge was untrue, it did Pope a great deal of damage.

Around this time, Pope began to grow discontented with the ministry of Robert Walpole and drew closer to the opposition led by Bolingbroke, who had returned to England in 1725. Inspired by Bolingbroke's philosophical ideas, Pope wrote An Essay on Man (1733-4). He published the first part anonymously, in a cunning and successful ploy to win praise from his fiercest critics and enemies.

Despite the 'Essay' being written in heroic couplets, many translations into European languages rapidly followed, especially in Germany, where the 'Essay' was regarded as a serious contribution to philosophy.

The Imitations of Horace followed (1733-38). These were written in the popular Augustan form of the "imitation" of a classical poet, not so much a translation of his works as an updating with contemporary references. Pope used the model of Horace to satirise life under George II, especially what he regarded as the widespread corruption tainting the country under Walpole's influence and the poor quality of the court's artistic taste.

Pope also added a wholly original poem, An Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot, as an introduction to the "Imitations". It reviews his own literary career and includes the famous portraits of Lord Hervey ("Sporus") and Addison ("Atticus"). In 1738 he wrote the Universal Prayer.[11]

After 1738, Pope wrote little. He toyed with the idea of composing a patriotic epic in blank verse called Brutus, but only the opening lines survive. His major work in these years was revising and expanding his masterpiece The Dunciad. Book Four appeared in 1742, and a complete revision of the whole poem in the following year. In this version, Pope replaced the "hero", Lewis Theobald, with the poet laureate Colley Cibber as "king of dunces". By now Pope's health, which had never been good, was failing, and he died in his villa surrounded by friends on 30 May 1744. On the previous day, 29 May 1744, Pope called for a priest and received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He lies buried in the nave of the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Twickenham.

Essay on Man

The Essay on Man is a philosophical poem, written in heroic couplets and published between 1732 and 1734. Pope intended this poem to be the centrepiece of a proposed system of ethics that was to be put forth in poetic form. It was a piece of work that Pope intended to make into a larger work; however, he did not live to complete it.[12]

The Essay on Man is an attempt to justify the ways of God to Man, and that man is not himself the centre of all things. The essay is not solely Christian; however, it makes an assumption that man has fallen and must seek his own salvation.[12]

The Essay on Man consists of four epistles that are addressed to Lord Bolingbroke. Pope presents an idea or his view on the Universe; he says that no matter how imperfect, complex, inscrutable and disturbing the Universe appears to be, it functions in a rational fashion according to the natural laws. The natural laws consider the Universe as a whole a perfect work of God. To humans it appears to be evil and imperfect in many ways; however, Pope points out that this is due to our limited mindset and limited intellectual capacity. Pope gets the message across that humans must accept their position in the "Great Chain of Being" which is at a middle stage between the angels and the beasts of the world. If we are able to accomplish this then we potentially could lead happy and virtuous lives.[12]

The Essay on Man is an affirmative poem of faith: life seems to be chaotic and confusing to man when he is in the center of it, but according to Pope it is really divinely ordered. In Pope's world God exists and is what he centers the Universe around in order to have an ordered structure. The limited intelligence of man can only take in tiny portions of this order and can experience only partial truths, hence man must rely on hope which then leads into faith. Man must be aware of his existence in the Universe and what he brings to it, in terms of riches, power and fame. It is man's duty to strive to be good regardless of other situations: this is the message Pope is trying to get across to the reader.[13]

Criticisms of Pope's Work

The death of Alexander Pope from Museus, a threnody by William Mason. Diana holds the dying Pope, and John Milton, Edmund Spenser, and Geoffrey Chaucer prepare to welcome him to heaven.

Pope died the greatest poet of his age. However, by the mid-eighteenth century new fashions in poetry started to emerge. A decade after Pope's death, Joseph Warton claimed that Pope's style of poetry was not the most excellent form of the art. The Romantic movement that rose to prominence in early nineteenth century England was more ambivalent towards his work. Though Lord Byron identified Pope as one of his chief influences (believing his scathing satire of contemporary English literature English Bards and Scotch Reviewers a continuance of Pope's tradition), William Wordsworth found Pope's style fundamentally too decadent to truly represent the human condition.[3]

In the twentieth century an effort to revive Pope's reputation began and was successful. Pope's work was now found to be full of references to the people and places of his time and these aided individuals' understanding of the past. The postwar period stressed the power of Pope's poetry and recognised that Pope's immersion in Christian and Biblical culture gave great depth to his poetry. Maynard Mack thought very highly of Pope's poetry. He argued that Pope's humane moral vision demanded as much respect as his technical excellence. In the years 1953-1967 the production of the definitive Twickenham edition of Pope's poems was published in ten volumes.[3]

The last decades of the twentieth century brought further challenges to Pope's literary reputation. These critics were prompted by theoretical perspectives, such as Marxism, feminism and other forms of post-structuralism. Hence Hammond focused on Pope's singular achievement in making an independent living solely from his writing. Laura Brown's 'Alexander Pope' (1985) adopted a Marxist approach and accused Pope of becoming an apologist for the oppressive upper classes. A year after Brown's study, Brean Hammond published an article about Pope inspired by Cultural Materialism in the British context and the USA-based New Historicism. Following Hammond's approach, Raymond Williams explained art as a set of practices influenced by broad cultural factors rather than simply the vague ideas of genius alone.[3]

In 'Politics and Poetics of Transgression' (1985) Peter Stallybrass and Allon White claimed that Pope drew upon the low culture which he despised in order to produce his own 'high art'. They asserted that Pope was implicated in the very material he was attempting to exclude, an observation not far different from the arguments of Pope's contemporaries.[3]

Feminists also criticised Pope's works. Ellen Pollak's 'The Poetics of Sexual Myth' (1985) argued that Pope followed an anti-feminist tradition. Pollak believed that Pope regarded women as inferior to men both intellectually and physically. However, in Pope's defence it should be said that this was the general view of his time. Carolyn Williams identified a crisis in the male role during the eighteenth century in Britain and discussed its impact on Pope as well as on his writing.[3]

Works

Major Works

Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:

Editions

Footnotes

  1. ^ Dictionary of Quotations (1999)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Erskine-Hill, DNB
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 'Alexander Pope', Literature Online biography (2000)
  4. ^ "An Act to prevent and avoid dangers which may grow by Popish Recusants" (3. Jac. 1, v). See for details  "Penal Laws". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Penal_Laws. .
  5. ^ Gordon (2002)
  6. ^ 'Mount', Britannica (2009)
  7. ^ The Life of Alexander Pope, by Robert Carruthers, 1857, with a corrupted and badly scanned version available from Google Books, or as an even worse 23MB PDF. For reference to his relationship with Martha Blount and her sister, see pp.64–68 (89th and following pages of the PDF). In particular, discussion of the controversy over whether the relationship was sexual is described in some detail on pp.76–78.
  8. ^ a b Rogers (2006)
  9. ^ a b Baines (2001)
  10. ^ NPG 299; Alexander Pope
  11. ^ The Universal Prayer
  12. ^ a b c Nuttal (1984)
  13. ^ Cassirer (1944)
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cox, Michael, editor, The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-860634-6

References

  • 'Alexander Pope', Literature Online biography (Chadwyck-Healey: Cambridge, 2000).
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (Oxford University Press, 5th ed., 1999).
  • Martha Blount, Encyclopædia Britannica (2009). Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  • Baines, Paul. The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope (Routledge Publishing, 2001), pp. 67–90.
  • Cassirer, Ernst. An essay on man; an introduction to a philosophy of human culture (Yale University Press, 1944).
  • Gordon, Ian. 'An Epistle to a Lady (Moral Essay II)', The Literary Encyclopedia. 2002-01-24, accessed 2009-04-17.
  • Erskine-Hill, Howard. 'Pope, Alexander (1688–1744)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, Sept 2004, online edn, Jan 2008). Accessed 18 April 2009.
  • Mack, Maynard. Alexander Pope: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), the definitive biography.
  • Nuttal, Anthony. 'Pope's Essay on Man' (Allen and Unwin, 1984), pp. 3–15, 167-188.
  • Rogers, Pat. The Cambridge Companion to Alexander Pope (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Rogers, Pat. The Major Works (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 17–39.

External links

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
Histories are more full of Examples of the Fidelity of dogs than of Friends.

Alexander Pope (21 May 168830 May 1744) is considered one of the greatest English poets of the eighteenth century.

See also
An Essay on Criticism (1711)
The Iliad of Homer (1715 to 1720)
The Odyssey of Homer (1725)
The Dunciad (1728 to 1743)
Moral Essays (1731 to 1735)
An Essay on Man (1733 to 1734)
Imitations of Horace (1733 to 1738)

Contents

Sourced

Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
The flying Rumours gather'd as they roll'd,
Scarce any Tale was sooner heard than told...
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
O grant an honest fame, or grant me none!
How vast a memory has Love!
Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear.
Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures try'd;
The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died.
He lives twice who can at once employ
The present well, and e'en the past enjoy.
Let such, such only tread this sacred floor,
Who dare to love their country and be poor.
Ye Gods! annihilate but space and time,
And make two lovers happy.
  • Happy the man whose wish and care
    A few paternal acres bound,
    Content to breathe his native air
    In his own ground.
    • "Ode on Solitude", st. 1 (c. 1700)
  • Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
    Thus unlamented let me die;
    Steal from the world, and not a stone
    Tell where I lie.
    • "Ode on Solitude", st. 5 (c. 1700)
  • They dream in Courtship, but in Wedlock wake.
    • "The Wife of Bath her Prologue, from Chaucer" (c.1704, published 1713), line 103
  • The mouse that always trusts to one poor hole
    Can never be a mouse of any soul.
    • "The Wife of Bath her Prologue, from Chaucer" (c.1704, published 1713), lines 298-299. Compare: "I hold a mouses wit not worth a leke, That hath but on hole for to sterten to", Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, "The Wif of Bathes Prologue", line 6154; "The mouse that hath but one hole is quickly taken", George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum.
  • Love seldom haunts the breast where learning lies,
    And Venus sets ere Mercury can rise.
    • "The Wife of Bath her Prologue, from Chaucer" (c.1704, published 1713), line 369
  • Histories are more full of Examples of the Fidelity of dogs than of Friends.
    • Letter to Henry Cromwell (19 October 1709)
  • I am his Highness' dog at Kew;
    Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
    • "On the Collar of a Dog"
  • Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
    God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
  • The flying Rumours gather'd as they roll'd,
    Scarce any Tale was sooner heard than told;
    And all who told it, added something new,
    And all who heard it, made Enlargements too,
    In ev'ry Ear it spread, on ev'ry Tongue it grew.
    • The Temple of Fame (1711), lines 468-472
  • Nor Fame I slight, nor her favors call;
    She comes unlooked for, if she comes at all.
    • The Temple of Fame (1711), line 513
  • Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
    O grant an honest fame, or grant me none!
    • The Temple of Fame (1711), closing line
  • How vast a memory has Love!
    • "Sappho to Phaon", line 52 (1712)
  • I find myself just in the same situation of mind you describe as your own, heartily wishing the good, that is the quiet of my country, and hoping a total end of all the unhappy divisions of mankind by party-spirit, which at best is but the madness of many for the gain of a few.
    • Letter to Edward Blount (27 August 1714); a similar expression in "Thoughts on Various Subjects" in Swift's Miscellanies (1727): Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
  • Luxurious lobster-nights, farewell,
    For sober, studious days!
    • "A Farewell to London", st. 1 (1715)
  • Dear, damned, distracting town, farewell!
    Thy fools no more I'll tease:
    This year in peace, ye critics, dwell,
    Ye harlots, sleep at ease!
    • "A Farewell to London", st. 12 (1715)
  • Who ne'er knew joy but friendship might divide,
    Or gave his father grief but when he died.
    • "Epitaph on the Hon. S. Harcourt" (1720)
  • Such were the notes thy once lov'd poet sung,
    Till death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue.
    • "Epistle to Robert, Earl of Oxford and Mortimer" preface to Thomas Parnell's Poems on Several Occasions (1721)
  • Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear.
    • "Epistle to Robert, Earl of Oxford and Mortimer" (1721)
  • "Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed" was the ninth beatitude which a man of wit (who, like a man of wit, was a long time in gaol) added to the eighth.
    • Letter, written in collaboration with John Gay, to William Fortescue (23 September 1725). A similar remark was made in a letter to John Gay (16 October 1727): I have many years magnify'd in my own mind, and repeated to you a ninth Beatitude, added to the eight in the Scripture: Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
  • Let me tell you I am better acquainted with you for a long Absence, as men are with themselves for a long affliction: Absence does but hold off a friend, to make one see him the truer.
  • So unaffected, so compos'd a mind;
    So firm, yet soft; so strong, yet so retin'd;
    Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures try'd;
    The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died.
    • "Epitaph on Mrs. Corbet" (1730)
  • Good God! how often are we to die before we go quite off this stage? in every friend we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part.
  • Of Manners gentle, of Affections mild;
    In Wit, a Man; Simplicity, a Child.
    • "Epitaph on Gay" (1733), lines 1-2. Reported in The Poems of Alexander Pope, ed. John Butt, sixth edition (Yale University Press, 1970), p. 818. Compare: "Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child", John Dryden, Elegy on Mrs. Killegrew, line 70
  • For he lives twice who can at once employ
    The present well, and e'en the past enjoy.
    • Imitation of Martial, reported in Mr. Pope's Literary Correspondence (1737), Vol. V, p. 232; The Poems of Alexander Pope, ed. John Butt, sixth edition (Yale University Press, 1970), p. 117. Compare: "Ampliat ætatis spatium sibi vir bonus; hoc est Vivere bis vita posse priore frui" (Translated: "The good man prolongs his life; to be able to enjoy one's past life is to live twice"), Martial, X, 237.; "Thus would I double my life's fading space; For he that runs it well, runs twice his race", Abraham Cowley, Discourse XI, Of Myself, stanza xi
  • There, take (says Justice), take ye each a shell:
    We thrive at Westminster on fools like you;
    'T was a fat oyster,—live in peace,—adieu.
    • Reported in The Poems of Alexander Pope, ed. John Butt, sixth edition (Yale University Press, 1970), p. 832: "Verbatim from Boileau", written c. 1740, published 1741.. Compare: "Tenez voilà", dit-elle, "à chacun une écaille, Des sottises d'autrui nous vivons au Palais; Messieurs, l'huître étoit bonne. Adieu. Vivez en paix", Nicholas Boileau-Despreaux, Epître II. (à M. l'Abbé des Roches)
  • Let such, such only tread this sacred floor,
    Who dare to love their country and be poor.
    • Inscription on the entrance to his grotto in Twickenham, published in "Verses on a Grotto by the River Thames at Twickenham, composed of Marbles, Spars and Minerals", line 14, (written 1740, published 1741); also quoted as "Who dared to love their country, and be poor."
  • Vain was the chief's, the sage's pride!
    They had no poet, and they died.
    In vain they schem'd, in vain they bled!
    They had no poet, and are dead.
    • Odes, Book iv, Ode 9, reported in William Warburton, The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq (1751) p. 31
  • Ye Gods! annihilate but space and time,
    And make two lovers happy.
    • Martinus Scriblerus on the Art of Sinking in Poetry, Chap. xi, reported in William Warburton, The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq (1751) p. 196

Pastorals (1709)

  • Where'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade,
    Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade:
    Where'er you tread, the blushing flow'rs shall rise,
    And all things flourish where you turn your eyes.
    • Summer, line 73
  • Say, is not absence death to those who love?
    • Autumn
  • Let opening roses knotted oaks adorn,
    And liquid amber drop from every thorn.
    • Autumn, line 36
  • The garlands fade, the vows are worn away;
    So dies her love, and so my hopes decay.
    • Autumn, line 70

The Dying Christian to His Soul (1712)

Vital spark of heav'nly flame!
Quit, oh quit, this mortal frame...
  • Vital spark of heav'nly flame!
    Quit, oh quit, this mortal frame
    :
    Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, flying,
    Oh the pain, the bliss of dying!
    • Stanza 1
  • Hark! they whisper; angels say,
    Sister spirit, come away!
  • Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
  • Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
    O grave! where is thy victory?
    O death! where is thy sting?

Windsor Forest (1713)

  • Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain,
    Here earth and water seem to strive again,
    Not chaos-like together crushed and bruised,
    But, as the world, harmoniously confused:
    Where order in variety we see,
    And where, though all things differ, all agree.
    • Line 11
  • Not chaos-like together crush'd and bruis'd,
    But as the world, harmoniously confus'd,
    Where order in variety we see,
    And where, though all things differ, all agree.
    • Line 13
  • Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase began
    A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.
    • Line 61
  • Oft, as in airy rings they skim the heath,
    The clam'rous lapwings feel the leaden death;
    Oft, as the mounting larks their notes prepare,
    They fall, and leave their little lives in air.
    • Line 131
  • From old Belerium to the northern main.
    • Line 316

Prologue to Mr. Addison's Cato (1713)

  • To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
    To raise the genius, and to mend the heart;
    To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold,
    Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold:
    For this the Tragic Muse first trod the stage.
    • Line 1
  • A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
    And greatly falling with a falling state.
    While Cato gives his little senate laws,
    What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
    • Line 21. Pope also uses the reference, "Like Cato, give his little Senate laws", in his Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1734), Prologue to Imitations of Horace.
  • Ignobly vain, and impotently great.
    • Line 29

The Rape of the Lock (1712, revised 1714 and 1717)

What dire offense from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things!
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
  • What dire offense from amorous causes springs,
    What mighty contests rise from trivial things!
    • Canto I, line 1
  • This casket India's glowing gems unlocks
    And all Arabia breathes from yonder box.
    • Canto I, line 134
  • On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore
    Which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore.
    • Canto II, line 7
  • If to her share some female errors fall,
    Look on her face, and you'll forget 'em all.
    • Canto II, line 17
  • Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare,
    And beauty draws us with a single hair.
    • Canto II, line 27. Compare: "No cord nor cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with a twined thread", Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part iii, Section 2, Membrane 1, Subsection 2
  • Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
    Dost sometimes counsel take — and sometimes tea.
    • Canto III, line 7
  • At every word a reputation dies.
    • Canto III, line 16
  • The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
    And wretches hang that jurymen may dine.
    • Canto III, line 21
  • Let spades be trumps! she said, and trumps they were.
    • Canto III, line 46
  • Coffee, which makes the politician wise,
    And see through all things with his half-shut eyes.
    • Canto III, line 117
  • But when mischief mortals bend their will,
    How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
    • Canto III, line 125
  • The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
    From the fair head, forever, and forever!
    Then flashed the living lightning from her eyes,
    And screams of horror rend th' affrighted skies.
    • Canto III, line 153
  • Sir Plume, of amber snuff-box justly vain,
    And the nice conduct of a clouded cane.
    • Canto IV, line 123
  • Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
    • Canto V, line 34
  • "Boast not my fall (he cried), insulting foe!
    Thou by some other shalt be laid as low;
    Nor think to die dejects my lofty mind;
    All that I dread is leaving you behind!
    Rather than so, ah let me still survive,
    And burn in Cupid's flames — but burn alive."
    • Canto V, line 97

The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope (1717)

  • I think a good deal may be said to extenuate the fault of bad Poets. What we call a Genius, is hard to be distinguish'd by a man himself, from a strong inclination: and if his genius be ever so great, he can not at first discover it any other way, than by giving way to that prevalent propensity which renders him the more liable to be mistaken.
    • Preface
  • Therefore they who say our thoughts are not our own because they resemble the Ancients, may as well say our faces are not our own, because they are like our Fathers: And indeed it is very unreasonable, that people should expect us to be Scholars, and yet be angry to find us so.
    • Preface
  • I would not be like those Authors, who forgive themselves some particular lines for the sake of a whole Poem, and vice versa a whole Poem for the sake of some particular lines. I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts.
    • Preface

Eloisa to Abelard

Oh name forever sad! forever dear!
Still breathed in sighs, still ushered with a tear.
Now warm in love, now with'ring in my bloom,
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
Curse on all laws but those which love has made!
Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love?
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd...
He best can paint them, who shall feel them most.
  • Oh name forever sad! forever dear!
    Still breathed in sighs, still ushered with a tear.
    • Line 31
  • Now warm in love, now with'ring in my bloom,
    Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
    • Line 37
  • Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
    Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid,
    They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires,
    Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
    The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
    Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
    Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
    And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.
    • Line 51
  • Guiltless I gaz'd; heav'n listen'd while you sung;
    And truths divine came mended from that tongue.
    • Line 65
  • How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said,
    Curse on all laws but those which love has made!

    Love, free as air at sight of human ties,
    Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
    • Line 73
  • Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame,
    August her deed, and sacred be her fame;
    Before true passion all those views remove,
    Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love?
    • Line 77
  • Curse on all laws but those which love has made!
    Love, free as air at sight of human ties,
    Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
    • Line 74
  • No, make me mistress to the man I love;
    If there be yet another name more free,
    More fond than mistress, make me that to thee!
    • Line 88
  • Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call,
    And if I lose thy love, I lose my all.
    • Line 117
  • I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
    Repent old pleasures, and solicit new
    ;
    Now turn'd to heav'n, I weep my past offence,
    Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
    Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
    'Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
    How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
    And love th' offender, yet detest th' offence?

    How the dear object from the crime remove,
    Or how distinguish penitence from love?
    Unequal task! a passion to resign,
    For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.
    Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
    How often must it love, how often hate!
    How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
    Conceal, disdain,—do all things but forget.
    • Line 185; similar here to "She hugg'd the offender, and forgave the offence", John Dryden, Cymon and Iphigenia, line 367
  • Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
    Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
    • Line 205
  • How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
    The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
    Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
    Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd...
    • Line 207
  • One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
    Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight.
    • Line 273. Compare: "Priests, altars, victims, swam before my sight", Edmund Smith, Phædra and Hippolytus, act i. sc. 1
  • See my lips tremble and my eyeballs roll,
    Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul.
    • Line 323
  • Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
    And image charms he must behold no more,
    Such if there be, who loves so long, so well;
    Let him our sad, our tender story tell;
    The well-sung woes will sooth my pensive ghost;
    He best can paint them, who shall feel them most.
    • Lines 361-366; The last line here is probably inspired by that Joseph Addison in The Campaign (1704): "And those that paint them truest praise them most."

Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady

Is it, in Heav'n, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part?
  • What beck'ning ghost, along the moonlight shade
    Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
    • Line 1. Compare: "What gentle ghost, besprent with April dew, Hails me so solemnly to yonder yew?", Ben Jonson, Elegy on the Lady Jane Pawlet.
  • Is it, in Heav'n, a crime to love too well?
    To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
    To act a lover's or a Roman's part?
    Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
    For those who greatly think, or bravely die?
    • Line 6
  • Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
    The glorious fault of Angels and of Gods.
    • Line 13
  • Lo these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd,
    And curs'd with hearts unknowing how to yield.

    Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
    The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
    So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow
    For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
    • Line 45. Compare Pope's The Odyssey of Homer, Book XVIII, line 269
  • By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
    By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
    By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
    By strangers honored, and by strangers mourned!
    • Line 51
  • And bear about the mockery of woe
    To midnight dances and the public show.
    • Line 57
  • How loved, how honored once, avails thee not,
    To whom related, or by whom begot;
    A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
    'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
    • Line 71

Thoughts on Various Subjects (1727)

Published in Swift's Miscellanies (1727)
I never knew any man in my life who could not bear another's misfortunes perfectly like a Christian.
Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.
  • I never knew any man in my life who could not bear another's misfortunes perfectly like a Christian.
  • A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
  • It is with narrow-souled people as with narrow necked bottles: the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out.
  • When men grow virtuous in their old age, they only make a sacrifice to God of the devil's leavings.
  • For, as blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.
  • A person who is too nice an observer of the business of the crowd, like one who is too curious in observing the labour of the bees, will often be stung for his curiosity.
  • He who tells a lie, is not sensible how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.
  • Our passions are like convulsion-fits, which, though they make us stronger for the time, leave us the weaker ever after.
  • Some old men, by continually praising the time of their youth, would almost persuade us that there were no fools in those days; but unluckily they are left themselves for examples.
  • Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.
  • The most positive men are the most credulous…
  • To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves.
  • Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
    • From Roscoe's edition of Pope, vol. v. p. 376; originally printed in Motte's Miscellanies (1727). In the edition of 1736 Pope says, "I must own that the prose part (the Thought on Various Subjects), at the end of the second volume, was wholly mine. January, 1734".

The Universal Prayer (1738)

Thou Great First Cause, least understood
Who all my sense confined
To know but this, that Thou art good
And that myself am blind.
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
  • Father of all! in every age,
    In every clime adored,
    By saint, by savage, and by sage,
    Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!
    • Stanza 1
  • Thou Great First Cause, least understood
    Who all my sense confined
    To know but this, that Thou art good
    And that myself am blind.
    • Stanza 2
  • And binding Nature fast in fate,
    Left free the human will.
    • Stanza 3
  • Let not this weak, unknowing hand
    Presume Thy bolts to throw,
    And deal damnation round the land
    On each I judge Thy foe.
    • Stanza 7
  • If I am right, Thy grace import
    Still in the right to stay;
    If I am wrong, oh teach my heart
    To find that better way!
  • Teach me to feel another's woe,
    To right the fault I see;
    That mercy I to others show,
    That mercy show to me.
    • Stanza 10. Compare: "Who will not mercie unto others show, How can he mercy ever hope to have?", Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene, Book v, Canto ii, Stanza 42

Attributed

  • True politeness consists in being easy one's self, and in making every one about one as easy as one can.
    • Statement of 1739, as quoted in Observations, Anecdotes, and Characters, of Books and Men (1820), by Joseph Spence
  • This is the Jew
    That Shakespeare drew.
    • As quoted in various reports, including Charles Wells Moulton, The Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors (1901), p. 342; William Dunlap, The Life of George Frederick Cooke (1815), p. 26 (quoting an apparently contemporaneous journal account by the subject). Bartlett's Quotations, 10th edition (1919), reports that on the 14th of February, 1741, Macklin established his fame as an actor in the character of Shylock, in the "Merchant of Venice". Macklin's performance of this character so forcibly struck a gentleman in the pit that he, as it were involuntarily, exclaimed,—
      “This is the Jew
      That Shakespeare drew!”
      It has been said that this gentleman was Mr. Pope, and that he meant his panegyric on Macklin as a satire against Lord Lansdowne", Biographia Dramatica, vol. i. part II. p. 469

Misattributed

  • A work of art that contains theories is like an object on which the price tag has been left.
    • Une oeuvre où il y a des théories est comme un objet sur lequel on laisse la marque du prix.
    • Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, part VII: Time Regained, chapter III, "An Afternoon Party at the House of the Princesse de Guermantes" (French version and English translation)
  • You beat your pate, and fancy wit will come;
    Knock as you please, there's nobody at home.
    • Credited as Epigram: An Empty House (1727), or On a Dull Writer; alternately attributed to Jonathan Swift in John Hawkesworth, The Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin (1754), p. 265. Compare: "His wit invites you by his looks to come, But when you knock, it never is at home", William Cowper, Conversation, line 303
  • Never find fault with the absent.
    • Absenti nemo non nocuisse velit.
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegies, II, xix, 32, also translated: "Let no one be willing to speak ill of the absent."
  • The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
The unapparent connection is more powerful than the apparent one
The hidden harmony is better than the open one.
  • The sick in body call for aid: the sick
    In mind are covetous of more disease;
    And when at worst, they dream themselves quite well.
    To know ourselves diseased, is half our cure.
  • What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease.

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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

Alexander Pope
File:Alexander Pope by Michael
Alexander Pope (c.1727), an English poet best known for his Essay on Criticism, Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad
Born 21 May 1688(1688-05-21)
London
Died 30 May 1744 (aged 56)
Occupation Poet

Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century.[1] He is best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson.[2] Pope was a master of the heroic couplet.

References

  1. Rogers (2007)
  2. Dictionary of Quotations (1999)
English Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:


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