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Alexander Pope
English poet
(1688-1744)



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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' (c. 1700, when Pope was around twelve years old)

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' (c. 1700)

A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
-- An Essay on Criticism (1711)

First follow Nature, and your judgement frame
By her just standard, which is still the same:
Unerring Nature, still divinely bright,
One clear, unchanged, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty must to all impact,
At once the source and end and test of art.
-- An Essay on Criticism (1711)

To err is human; to forgive, divine.
-- An Essay on Criticism (1711)

For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.
-- An Essay on Criticism (1711)

What dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things!
Opening lines of
The Rape of the Lock (1714)

They shift the moving toyshop of their heart.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike,
And, like the sun, they shine on all alike.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Fair tresses man's imperial race insnare,
And beauty draws us with a single hair.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Belinda smiled and all the world was gay.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law,
Or some frail china jar receive a flaw,
Or stain her honour, or her new brocade;
Forget her pray'rs, or miss a masquerade;
Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

At ev'ry word a reputation dies.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
And wretches hang that jurymen may dine.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

But when mischief mortals bend their will,
How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Not louder shrieks to pitying heav'n are cast.
When husbands, or when lap-dogs breathe their last.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

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.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
-- The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumbered, heavenly goddess sing!
-- Opening lines (Bk. I, line 1) of Pope's translation (1715) of The Iliad (by Homer)

What beck'ning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
-- 'Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady' (1717)

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?
-- 'Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady' (1717)

Nature, and Nature's laws lay hid in night.
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.
-- "Epitaph: Intended for Sir Isaac Newton" (1730)

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never Is; but always To be blest.
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.

-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony, not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled;
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law,
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and prayer books are the toys of age!
Pleased with this bauble still, as that before;
Till tired he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

For forms of government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administered is best.
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

O happiness! our being's end and aim!
Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate'er thy name:
That something still which prompts the eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die.
-- An Essay on Man (1733-34)

Who shall decide when doctors disagree?
--
Moral Essays (Epistles to Several Persons), 'To Lord Bathurst' (1733)

But thousands die, without this or that,
Die, and endow, a college or a cat.
--
Moral Essays (Epistles to Several Persons), 'To Lord Bathurst' (1733)

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
-- Of Joseph Addison. In: "An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot" (1735)

But still the great have kindness in reserve,
He helped to bury whom he helped to starve.
-- Of a noble patron. In: "An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot" (1735)

Not to admire, is all the art I know,
To make them happy, and to keep them so.
-- Imitations of Horace (1734), Bk. I, Epistle 6

Then teach me Heav'n! to scorn the guilty bays;
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise;
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown:
Oh, grant an honest Fame, or grant me none!
-- The Temple of Fame

"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 (1725)

All Manners take a tincture from our own;
Or come discolour'd thro' our Passions shown.
-- _________

Chaste to her Husband, frank to all beside,
A teeming Mistress, but a barren Bride.
-- Moral Essays (Epistles to Several Persons), "To a Lady" (1735)

Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour,
Content to dwell in Decencies for ever.
-- Moral Essays (Epistles to Several Persons), "To a Lady" (1735)

I am his Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray, tell me Sir, whose dog are you?
-- "Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog which I gave to his Royal Highness" (1738)


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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