Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope Poems

Alexander Pope Poems


As a young man Pope shot to fame with The Rape of the Lock, a light-hearted mock-heroic poem about a trivial society scandal, still his best remembered work. Wit and irony, dazzling technical mastery - he perfected the English heroic couplet - acute social observation and insight into human nature were to become the hallmarks of his verse.

Pope is one of the most quoted of English poets - 'For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread', 'A little learning is a dangerous thing', 'To err is human, to forgive, divine', all originate from his pen. While his poetry generally has suffered some neglect in recent decades, Professor Claude Rawson's selection persuasively demonstrates why it should be back in fashion.

He aspired to make out of verse satire a serious and dignified form, and his culminating work, The Dunciad, achieves a tragic gravity which transcends its satirical mockeries. An elevated and ironic reflection on culture, it created a new genre which led eventually to the modern masterpiece of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

Pope was a precocious talent and anxious to advertise the fact, inserting such subtitles as “Done by the Author at 12 years old” into his early published poems. He adopted many poetic forms, and this anthology includes graceful and witty lyrics, verse letters to friends in the Horatian mode, a number of devotional poems, and a variety of important discursive poems on literary and political themes, including An Essay on Criticism, Windsor-Forest, and An Essay on Man.

This edition uses the text of the Oxford Standard Authors edition by Herbert Davis of Pope’s Poetical Works, 1966. Complete poems rather than excerpts have been selected. The beautifully typeset text is enhanced by illustrations by William Kent from the first edition of The Dunciad.

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