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Alexander Pope
1688 -1744

Pope is generally regarded as the leading 18th century English poetic satirist. Pope suffered physical disabilities and was largely self-taught. By age 17, Pope was regarded as a prodigy. While known for his literary quarrels, Pope nevertheless had many close friends (he was a friend of Swift's). In 1711 he became famous with his Essay on Criticism, wherein he defines classicism. In his mock-heroic Rape of the Lock (1714), Pope ridicules the fashionable life. His two most notable poems on love are "Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady" and "Eloise to Abelard." In 1720 he translated the Iliad and in 1726 the Odyssey. Pope's 1725 edition of Shakespeare made him into a rich man. In his later years he wrote The Dunciad being an attack on hack writers. In 1734 there appeared another famous essay of his, an Essay on Man.

Happy the man, whose wish and care

The Dying Cristian to his Soul

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winteer, fire.

Blest, who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years, slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quite by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix'd; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

The Dying Cristian to his Soul

Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, o quit this mortal frame!
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
Oh the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife!
And let me languish into life!

Hark! they whisper; Angels say,
“Sister Spirit, come away.”
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be Death?

The world recedes, it disappears!
Heaven opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring:
Lend, lend your wings! I mount, I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death, where is thy sting?

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© 2000 Elena and Yacov Feldman