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Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism: Summary & Analysis

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Its brilliantly polished epigrams e. Early works exposition of prosodic theory In prosody: The 18th century use of end stop In end stop place in English literature In English literature: Pope literary criticism In literary criticism: Neoclassicism and its decline. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. An Essay on Criticism. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered.

Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context. Internet URLs are the best. Thank You for Your Contribution! There was a problem with your submission. At ev'ry 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, For fools admire, but men of sense approve; As things seem large which we through mists descry, Dulness 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 damn'd beside.

Meanly they seek the blessing to confine, And force that sun but on a part to shine; Which not alone the southern wit sublimes, But ripens spirits in cold northern climes; Which from the first has shone on ages past, Enlights the present, and shall warm the last; Though each may feel increases and decays, And see now clearer and now darker days.

Regard not then if wit be old or new, But blame the false, and value still the true. Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own, But catch the spreading notion of the town; They reason and conclude by precedent, And own stale nonsense which they ne'er invent. Some judge of authors' names, not works, and then Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men.

Of all this servile herd, the worst is he That in proud dulness joins with quality, A constant critic at the great man's board, To fetch and carry nonsense for my Lord. What woeful stuff this madrigal would be, In some starv'd hackney sonneteer, or me?

But let a Lord once own the happy lines, How the wit brightens! Before his sacred name flies every fault, And each exalted stanza teems with thought! The vulgar thus through imitation err; As oft the learn'd by being singular; So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng By chance go right, they purposely go wrong: So Schismatics the plain believers quit, And are but damn'd for having too much wit. Some praise at morning what they blame at night; But always think the last opinion right.

A Muse by these is like a mistress us'd, This hour she's idoliz'd, the next abus'd; While their weak heads, like towns unfortified, Twixt sense and nonsense daily change their side. Ask them the cause; they're wiser still, they say; And still tomorrow's wiser than today. We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow; Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so.

Once school divines this zealous isle o'erspread; Who knew most Sentences, was deepest read; Faith, Gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed, And none had sense enough to be confuted: Scotists and Thomists, now, in peace remain, Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck Lane.

If Faith itself has different dresses worn, What wonder modes in wit should take their turn? Oft, leaving what is natural and fit, The current folly proves the ready wit; And authors think their reputation safe Which lives as long as fools are pleased to laugh.

Some valuing those of their own side or mind, Still make themselves the measure of mankind; Fondly we think we honour merit then, When we but praise ourselves in other men. Parties in wit attend on those of state, And public faction doubles private hate. Pride, Malice, Folly, against Dryden rose, In various shapes of Parsons, Critics, Beaus; But sense surviv'd, when merry jests were past; For rising merit will buoy up at last.

Might he return, and bless once more our eyes, New Blackmores and new Milbourns must arise; Nay should great Homer lift his awful head, Zoilus again would start up from the dead.

Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue, But like a shadow, proves the substance true; For envied wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known Th' opposing body's grossness, not its own. When first that sun too powerful beams displays, It draws up vapours which obscure its rays; But ev'n those clouds at last adorn its way, Reflect new glories, and augment the day. Be thou the first true merit to befriend; His praise is lost, who stays till all commend. Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes, And 'tis but just to let 'em live betimes.

No longer now that golden age appears, When patriarch wits surviv'd a thousand years: Now length of Fame our second life is lost, And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast; Our sons their fathers' failing language see, And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.

So when the faithful pencil has design'd Some bright idea of the master's mind, Where a new world leaps out at his command, And ready Nature waits upon his hand; When the ripe colours soften and unite, And sweetly melt into just shade and light; When mellowing years their full perfection give, And each bold figure just begins to live, The treacherous colours the fair art betray, And all the bright creation fades away!

Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things, Atones not for that envy which it brings. In youth alone its empty praise we boast, But soon the short-liv'd vanity is lost: Like some fair flow'r the early spring supplies, That gaily blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies. What is this wit, which must our cares employ? The owner's wife, that other men enjoy; Then most our trouble still when most admir'd, And still the more we give, the more requir'd; Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease, Sure some to vex, but never all to please; 'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun; By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone!

If wit so much from ign'rance undergo, Ah let not learning too commence its foe! Of old, those met rewards who could excel, And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well: Though triumphs were to gen'rals only due, Crowns were reserv'd to grace the soldiers too.

But still the worst with most regret commend, For each ill author is as bad a friend. To what base ends, and by what abject ways, Are mortals urg'd through sacred lust of praise! Ah ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast, Nor in the critic let the man be lost! Good nature and good sense must ever join; To err is human; to forgive, divine.

But if in noble minds some dregs remain, Not yet purg'd off, of spleen and sour disdain, Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes, Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times. No pardon vile obscenity should find, Though wit and art conspire to move your mind; But dulness with obscenity must prove As shameful sure as impotence in love.

In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase: When love was all an easy monarch's care; Seldom at council, never in a war: Jilts ruled the state, and statesmen farces writ; Nay wits had pensions, and young Lords had wit: The fair sat panting at a courtier's play, And not a mask went unimprov'd away: The modest fan was lifted up no more, And virgins smil'd at what they blush'd before. The following licence of a foreign reign Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain; Then unbelieving priests reform'd the nation, And taught more pleasant methods of salvation; Where Heav'n's free subjects might their rights dispute, Lest God himself should seem too absolute: Pulpits their sacred satire learned to spare, And Vice admired to find a flatt'rer there!

Encourag'd thus, wit's Titans brav'd the skies, And the press groan'd with licenc'd blasphemies. Yet shun their fault, who, scandalously nice, Will needs mistake an author into vice; All seems infected that th' infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.

Learn then what morals critics ought to show, For 'tis but half a judge's task, to know. That not alone what to your sense is due, All may allow; but seek your friendship too.

Be silent always when you doubt your sense; And speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence: Some positive, persisting fops we know, Who, if once wrong, will needs be always so; But you, with pleasure own your errors past, And make each day a critic on the last. Without good breeding, truth is disapprov'd; That only makes superior sense belov'd.

Be niggards of advice on no pretence; For the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust, Nor be so civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise; Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise. Fear most to tax an honourable fool, Whose right it is, uncensur'd, to be dull; Such, without wit, are poets when they please, As without learning they can take degrees.

Leave dangerous truths to unsuccessful satires, And flattery to fulsome dedicators, Whom, when they praise, the world believes no more, Than when they promise to give scribbling o'er. Your silence there is better than your spite, For who can rail so long as they can write? Still humming on, their drowsy course they keep, And lash'd so long, like tops, are lash'd asleep. False steps but help them to renew the race, As after stumbling, jades will mend their pace.

What crowds of these, impenitently bold, In sounds and jingling syllables grown old, Still run on poets, in a raging vein, Even to the dregs and squeezings of the brain, Strain out the last, dull droppings of their sense, And rhyme with all the rage of impotence! Such shameless bards we have; and yet 'tis true, There are as mad, abandon'd critics too. The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, With loads of learned lumber in his head, With his own tongue still edifies his ears, And always list'ning to himself appears.

With him, most authors steal their works, or buy; Garth did not write his own Dispensary. Name a new play, and he's the poet's friend, Nay show'd his faults—but when would poets mend? No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd, Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's churchyard: Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead: For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks; It still looks home, and short excursions makes; But rattling nonsense in full volleys breaks; And never shock'd, and never turn'd aside, Bursts out, resistless, with a thund'ring tide.

But where's the man, who counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know? This question can be answered in several ways at once:. After interpreting, understanding and assimilating the text we must begin to draft the text analysis. During the drafting of the analysis it is necessary to put all the information we have prepared in the previous section, distributing it according to the initial request.

We must stick to the question and locate the information where appropriate and trying not to repeat the same in each answer. It is very important to keep the text analysis organized , as chaos in writing the information is one of the most common errors.

To avoid this, it is best to make a summary of what was written down whilst reading the text before you start writing. For this we can take the following steps:. Now that you have a draft, it is time to contextualize the text in the author's work. The author's philosophy should be explained through the ideas found in the text under analysis.

Note that in this part of your essay you should paraphrase some of the author's work to reinforce what the author's ideas ore. Make sure the sentences are no longer than two passages for each of the paragraphs you write or it may be considered plagiarism. On the other hand, you can also use quotes instead if you prefer, but make sure they are those that summarize the author's ideas better.

After talking about the author it is time to write the critical commentary. This is the part in which you'll be talking about what you've read in the text.

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Full Text Pope, Alexander: The Works () VOL. I. WITH Explanatory Notes and Additions never before printed. AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM. Written in the Year

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Essay on Poetic Theory. An Essay on Criticism. By Alexander Pope Introduction. Alexander Pope, a translator, poet, wit, amateur landscape gardener, and satirist, was born in London in Pope wrote “An Essay on Criticism” when he was 23; he was influenced by Quintillian, Aristotle, his text peruse; And let your comment be the.

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'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill Appear in Writing or in Judging ill, But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence, To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense. A critical essay is an analysis of a text such as a book, film, article, or painting. The goal of this type of paper is to offer a text or an interpretation of some aspect of a text or to situate the text in a broader context.

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An Essay on Criticism 1 From till Pope was chiefly engaged on his translations of the Iliad and Odyssey, which, though wanting in time Homeric simplicity, naturalness, and grandeur, are splendid poems. Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. 13 by Alexander Pope; An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope. No cover available. Download; Bibrec; Bibliographic Record. Author: Pope, Alexander, Title: An Essay on Criticism Plain Text UTF