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Alexander Pope

Birthdate: 21. May 1688
Date of death: 30. May 1744

Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer, and he is also famous for his use of the heroic couplet. He is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare.

Works

The Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock
Alexander Pope
An Essay on Man
An Essay on Man
Alexander Pope
An Essay on Criticism
An Essay on Criticism
Alexander Pope
Windsor Forest
Alexander Pope
Pastorals
Alexander Pope
Moral Essays
Alexander Pope
Eloisa to Abelard
Eloisa to Abelard
Alexander Pope

Quotes Alexander Pope

„Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.“

—  Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this quotation, I meet that argument — I rush in — I take that bull by the horns. I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of self-government. My faith in the proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me. I extend the principle to communities of men as well as to individuals. I so extend it because it is politically wise, as well as naturally just: politically wise in saving us from broils about matters which do not concern us. Here, or at Washington, I would not trouble myself with the oyster laws of Virginia, or the cranberry laws of Indiana. The doctrine of self-government is right, — absolutely and eternally right, — but it has no just application as here attempted. Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it has such application depends upon whether a negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, in that case he who is a man may as a matter of self-government do just what he pleases with him.
But if the negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself. When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government — that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal," and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.
1850s, Speech at Peoria, Illinois (1854)
Source: An Essay on Criticism

„Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.“

—  Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Canto V, line 33.
Variant: Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
Source: The Rape of the Lock (1712, revised 1714 and 1717)

„Lo these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd,
And curs'd with hearts unknowing how to yield.“

—  Alexander Pope

Source: Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, Line 45. Compare Pope's The Odyssey of Homer, Book XVIII, line 269.
Context: Lo these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd,
And curs'd with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.

„I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts.“

—  Alexander Pope

Preface.
Context: I would not be like those Authors, who forgive themselves some particular lines for the sake of a whole Poem, and vice versa a whole Poem for the sake of some particular lines. I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts.

„At every word a reputation dies.“

—  Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Canto III, line 16.
The Rape of the Lock (1712, revised 1714 and 1717)

„Vital spark of heav'nly flame!
Quit, oh quit, this mortal frame“

—  Alexander Pope

Stanza 1.
The Dying Christian to His Soul (1712)
Context: Vital spark of heav'nly flame!
Quit, oh quit, this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, flying,
Oh the pain, the bliss of dying!

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„Thou Great First Cause, least understood“

—  Alexander Pope

Stanza 2.
The Universal Prayer (1738)
Context: Thou Great First Cause, least understood
Who all my sense confined
To know but this, that Thou art good
And that myself am blind.

„So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.“

—  Alexander Pope

Source: Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, Line 45. Compare Pope's The Odyssey of Homer, Book XVIII, line 269.
Context: Lo these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd,
And curs'd with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.

„I think a good deal may be said to extenuate the fault of bad Poets.“

—  Alexander Pope

Preface.
Context: I think a good deal may be said to extenuate the fault of bad Poets. What we call a Genius, is hard to be distinguish'd by a man himself, from a strong inclination: and if his genius be ever so great, he can not at first discover it any other way, than by giving way to that prevalent propensity which renders him the more liable to be mistaken.

„Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures try'd;
The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died.“

—  Alexander Pope

"Epitaph on Mrs. Corbet" (1730).
Context: So unaffected, so compos'd a mind;
So firm, yet soft; so strong, yet so retin'd;
Heav'n, as its purest gold, by tortures try'd;
The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died.

„Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed“

—  Alexander Pope

Letter, written in collaboration with John Gay, to William Fortescue (23 September 1725).
A similar remark was made in a letter to John Gay (16 October 1727): "I have many years magnify'd in my own mind, and repeated to you a ninth Beatitude, added to the eight in the Scripture: Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."
Variant: Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
Context: "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.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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