By Alexander Pope, Robin Sowerby
Alexander Pope's technical polish and highbrow poise attract the subtlest viewers. this feature comprises The Rape of the Lock, Eloisa to Abelard, and extracts from The Dunciad and the interpretation of Homer.
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Additional info for Alexander Pope: Selected Poetry and Prose (Routledge English Texts)
This is evident everywhere in Homer and Virgil, and nowhere else that I know of to any observable degree…. This, I think, is what very few observe in practice and is undoubtedly of wonderful force in imprinting the image on the reader. We have one excellent example of this in our language, Mr Dryden’s ode on St Cecilia’s Day entitled ‘Alexander’s Feast, or the Power of Music’. 50 60 AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM ’Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill Appear in writing or in judging ill; But, of the two, less dangerous is the offence To tire our patience, than mislead our sense: Some few in that, but numbers err in this, Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss; A fool might once himself alone expose, Now one in verse makes many more in prose.
Their poems are sometimes called Augustan to denote their relation to the political order and to suggest the conditions under which they were produced. But the term goes further than this to suggest a quality in the art of the poems, for the works of Virgil and Horace have been seen to have a formal polish and a refinement of expression that set them apart from the literature of the previous age, and a poise and balance that set them apart from the literature that followed. These qualities of polish, refinement, urbanity, and poise have been considered to be the hallmarks of Augustan literature, representing the high-water mark of Roman culture and civilization.
At every trifle scorn to take offence, That always shows great pride, or little sense; Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best, Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest. Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move, 390 For fools admire, but men of sense approve; As things seem large which we through mists descry, Dullness is ever apt to magnify. Some foreign writers, some our own despise; The ancients only, or the moderns prize: Thus wit, like faith, by each man is applied To one small sect, and all are damned beside.