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Selected Poetry

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Though critical opinion on Alexander Pope has frequently been divided, he is now regarded as the most important poet of the early eighteenth century. An invalid from infancy, he devoted his energies towards literature and achieved remarkable success with his first published work at the age of twenty-one. A succession of brilliant poems followed, including An Essay on Critic Though critical opinion on Alexander Pope has frequently been divided, he is now regarded as the most important poet of the early eighteenth century. An invalid from infancy, he devoted his energies towards literature and achieved remarkable success with his first published work at the age of twenty-one. A succession of brilliant poems followed, including An Essay on Criticism (1711), Windsor Forest (1715), and his masterpiece, The Rape of the Lock. A second period of great poetry was begun in 1728 with the appearance of the first Dunciad. All these works--which exhibit Pope's astonishing human insight, his wide sympathies, and powers of social observation (displayed to greatest effect in his talent for satire)--are included in this selection of his poetry. It has been compiled by the distinguished Pope scholar and editor Pat Rodgers, who also provides an indispensable introduction that offers a new interpretation of Pope's poetry, and the philosophical ideas behind it.


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Though critical opinion on Alexander Pope has frequently been divided, he is now regarded as the most important poet of the early eighteenth century. An invalid from infancy, he devoted his energies towards literature and achieved remarkable success with his first published work at the age of twenty-one. A succession of brilliant poems followed, including An Essay on Critic Though critical opinion on Alexander Pope has frequently been divided, he is now regarded as the most important poet of the early eighteenth century. An invalid from infancy, he devoted his energies towards literature and achieved remarkable success with his first published work at the age of twenty-one. A succession of brilliant poems followed, including An Essay on Criticism (1711), Windsor Forest (1715), and his masterpiece, The Rape of the Lock. A second period of great poetry was begun in 1728 with the appearance of the first Dunciad. All these works--which exhibit Pope's astonishing human insight, his wide sympathies, and powers of social observation (displayed to greatest effect in his talent for satire)--are included in this selection of his poetry. It has been compiled by the distinguished Pope scholar and editor Pat Rodgers, who also provides an indispensable introduction that offers a new interpretation of Pope's poetry, and the philosophical ideas behind it.

30 review for Selected Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    I love the density of this poetry and I dig a lot of his critiques. I like when I see Milton peeking through. And I especially like how important Pope makes the role of the critic. But I have the hardest time knowing what the hell is going on, for like the first five stanzas or so. Where are we? Who the hell are you talking to? Too much ceremony, apostrophe? I don't know. And I read for a living. I love the density of this poetry and I dig a lot of his critiques. I like when I see Milton peeking through. And I especially like how important Pope makes the role of the critic. But I have the hardest time knowing what the hell is going on, for like the first five stanzas or so. Where are we? Who the hell are you talking to? Too much ceremony, apostrophe? I don't know. And I read for a living.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I actually liked most of the poems that Pope wrote, even if some of them were problematic (although said sections usually resulted in him getting roasted by other Contemporary poets or figures, which honestly was quite funny). If someone is interested in reading some poetry from this time period, I would definitely recommend reading Pope: his technical abilities combined with a sharp wit make the poems entertaining to read and also interesting to analyze, even if his ego is the size of the sun i I actually liked most of the poems that Pope wrote, even if some of them were problematic (although said sections usually resulted in him getting roasted by other Contemporary poets or figures, which honestly was quite funny). If someone is interested in reading some poetry from this time period, I would definitely recommend reading Pope: his technical abilities combined with a sharp wit make the poems entertaining to read and also interesting to analyze, even if his ego is the size of the sun in some of them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Pope ranks third behind Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible when it comes to familiar lines in our language. This addition of Pope, while not having all of his poems (it lacks the Essay on Man), does have several masterpieces, notably Essay on Criticism and the Rape of the Lock. Rape of the Lock This is very near to the perfect piece of poetry. Indeed, what glory could have come by writing a true piece of heroic poetry in this style?! C. S. Lewis once said that reading Spenser is Pope ranks third behind Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible when it comes to familiar lines in our language. This addition of Pope, while not having all of his poems (it lacks the Essay on Man), does have several masterpieces, notably Essay on Criticism and the Rape of the Lock. Rape of the Lock This is very near to the perfect piece of poetry. Indeed, what glory could have come by writing a true piece of heroic poetry in this style?! C. S. Lewis once said that reading Spenser is to grow in mental health. I suggest something similar with Pope: to read him is to be healed in one’s moral imagination. The following scene is poetry at its finest: While thro’ the press enraged Thalestris flies, And scatters death around from both her eyes, A Beau and Witling perish’d in the throng, One died in metaphor, and one in song: 60 ‘O cruel Nymph! a living death I bear,’ Cried Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair. A mournful glance Sir Fopling upwards cast, ‘Those eyes are made so killing’—was his last. Thus on Mæander’s flowery margin lies 65 Th’ expiring swan, and as he sings he dies. Epistle to a Lady (on how not to be a thot) In satirizing the English upper class, Alexander Pope predicted our Kardashian, Katy Perry style America: "The wit of cheats, the courage of a whore Are what ten thousand envy and adore." Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame. The Dunciad This was hard reading. Pope doesn’t quite rise to the glorious couplets of Lock. I think too much is lost in introduction and exposition. Further, even then, it isn’t always clear who his target is. Nonetheless, Book IV comes very close to the prior glory. Conclusion Reading Pope is like feasting on beams of golden light. When you read Pope you hear the golden trumpet and see the bright light.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma Wallace

    Pope is irrefutably an intellectual poet and commands his verse form, rhyme scheme and metrical rhythm with arresting ease; I especially loved his peppered inclusion of classical allusions and imagery which added much to his satirising of contemporary sophistication and decorum. Although his most renowned poem now The Rape of the Lock actually pales for me in comparison with both his Dunciad and my personal favourite Eloisa to Abelard. While not his forte I think Pope's rhyming couplets so perfe Pope is irrefutably an intellectual poet and commands his verse form, rhyme scheme and metrical rhythm with arresting ease; I especially loved his peppered inclusion of classical allusions and imagery which added much to his satirising of contemporary sophistication and decorum. Although his most renowned poem now The Rape of the Lock actually pales for me in comparison with both his Dunciad and my personal favourite Eloisa to Abelard. While not his forte I think Pope's rhyming couplets so perfectly compliment his romantic subject matter as to elevate the intensity of his rich luxuriant language. Indeed it was Pope's more implied meanings that interested me most such as his more muted commentaries concerning religion as well as the post structuralist potential reading given towards his scepticism to science. Pope is undoubtedly a master poet as demonstrated by his peerless navigation of both a verse dialogue in his Epilogue to the Satires and his notorious epigrams; as mentioned previously I enjoyed the suggestion of continuity in his work to that of Swift and Defoe and that his poetry forms part of a wider movement.

  5. 4 out of 5

    GONZA

    ............. How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd; Labour and rest, that equal periods keep; "Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;" Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n, Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n. Grace shines around her with serenest beams, And whisp'ring angels prompt her golden dreams. For her th' unfading rose of Eden blooms, And wings of sera ............. How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd; Labour and rest, that equal periods keep; "Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;" Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n, Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n. Grace shines around her with serenest beams, And whisp'ring angels prompt her golden dreams. For her th' unfading rose of Eden blooms, And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes, For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring, For her white virgins hymeneals sing, To sounds of heav'nly harps she dies away, And melts in visions of eternal day. .....................

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.

    While I’ve always appreciated poetry I haven’t memorized too much of the poetry I’ve read. If pressed right now to recite every line of poetry I’ve memorized in my life I could stutter through parts of “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Ozymandias,“ “Eldorado,” and a couple Shakespeare sonnets, not to mention a few saucy limericks. I’d ace "Purple Cow," though I’d swear it was written by Ogden Nash - sorry Gelett Burgess. And I’d proudly recite my favoritest couplet of all time: “True Wit is na While I’ve always appreciated poetry I haven’t memorized too much of the poetry I’ve read. If pressed right now to recite every line of poetry I’ve memorized in my life I could stutter through parts of “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Ozymandias,“ “Eldorado,” and a couple Shakespeare sonnets, not to mention a few saucy limericks. I’d ace "Purple Cow," though I’d swear it was written by Ogden Nash - sorry Gelett Burgess. And I’d proudly recite my favoritest couplet of all time: “True Wit is nature to advantage dress’d, What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d;” That couplet, of course, is from Alexander Pope’s “An Essay of Criticism.” And now after having read this selection of Alexander Pope poems, I can complete that favorite fragment: “Something, whose truth convinc’d at sight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind.” I won’t equivocate - this was a difficult read. Most of the poems were either beyond me or of little interest to me, but still I did come away with quite a few gems which are sending me to the drug store to pick up a bottle of Prevagen so that I can memorize and flawlessly recite them to my great-great-great-grandchildren so many years down the road, or at least to my wife tomorrow morning. I’ll close this review by listing a few of those gems - that way I can have a readily available cheat-sheet should the Prevagen fail me. “Be not the first by whom the new are try’d, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.” “Be silent always, when you doubt your sense; And speak, tho’ sure, with seeming diffidence: Some positive, persisting fops we know, Who, if once wrong, will needs always be so; But you, with pleasure own your errors past, And make each day a Critique on the last.” “Fear not the anger of the wise to raise; Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise.” “Learning and Rome alike in empire grew; And Arts still follow’d where her Eagles flew;” “And wretches hang that Jury-men may dine;” “Yet still her charms in breathing paint engage; Her modest cheek shall warm a future age.” “Nature and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night: God said, Let Newton be! And all was Light.” “Thus let me live, unseen, unknown, Thus unlamented let me die, Steal from the world, and not a stone Tell where I lie.” “Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never Is, but always To be blest: The soul uneasy, and confin’d from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.” “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of Mankind is Man.”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    Alexander Pope is very philosophical, but i liked his romances.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ronny

    "Essay on Criticism" is all you need. "Essay on Criticism" is all you need.

  9. 5 out of 5

    luce

    Pope...what to say... In his 'An Essay on Criticism' Pope transpires his dislike for 'excessiveness' in poetry, stating that good poetry should be 'understated', he then outlines a standard of what 'is' good taste by using an authoritative tone that condemns his peers while also putting himself into a superior position. And yet, his poems are convoluted and far from 'understated'. He does not really demonstrate any of the skills – of his so admired – classical authors whose work cleverly show wit Pope...what to say... In his 'An Essay on Criticism' Pope transpires his dislike for 'excessiveness' in poetry, stating that good poetry should be 'understated', he then outlines a standard of what 'is' good taste by using an authoritative tone that condemns his peers while also putting himself into a superior position. And yet, his poems are convoluted and far from 'understated'. He does not really demonstrate any of the skills – of his so admired – classical authors whose work cleverly show wit and reason. Also, more irritating than all was his 'Epistle to a Lady'. Mary Leapor's responds to this, in her 'Epistle to a Lady', is a much better example of 'good poetry'. Read that instead, Pope can suck it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Markus Whittaker

    Rhyming couplets shit me to tears. The stilted nature of much of Pope's poetry, the forced rhyme, the incessantly repetitive metre - it lack imagination by todays standards. But one can't judge these works by todays standards, Pope was clever, sublime, and incredibly perceptive for his time. There are some eloquent phrases, and some eloquent verses. Not my cup of tea, but I am a big believer in trying everything once. The notations and footnoting were a bloody shambles as well. Rhyming couplets shit me to tears. The stilted nature of much of Pope's poetry, the forced rhyme, the incessantly repetitive metre - it lack imagination by todays standards. But one can't judge these works by todays standards, Pope was clever, sublime, and incredibly perceptive for his time. There are some eloquent phrases, and some eloquent verses. Not my cup of tea, but I am a big believer in trying everything once. The notations and footnoting were a bloody shambles as well.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hayden

    I'm not a fan of poetry but I have to read this for university so I decided to suck it up and have a go. The Rape Of The Lock and Eloisa and Abelard were brilliant, but honestly I didn't really understand the rest. A lot of Pope's poems satirise prominent members of the time so most of the references went completely over my head. But I'm actually looking forward to studying it to actually understand the poems and maybe even enjoy them a lot more. I'm not a fan of poetry but I have to read this for university so I decided to suck it up and have a go. The Rape Of The Lock and Eloisa and Abelard were brilliant, but honestly I didn't really understand the rest. A lot of Pope's poems satirise prominent members of the time so most of the references went completely over my head. But I'm actually looking forward to studying it to actually understand the poems and maybe even enjoy them a lot more.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    I like Pope well enough, but I have a special fondness for him for one odd reason - a former mentor of mine, Dr. Suter, read some of my poetry and wrote to some of her colleages about how much my verse adaptations of ancient poetry resembled Pope. I've never forgotten the compliment. I like Pope well enough, but I have a special fondness for him for one odd reason - a former mentor of mine, Dr. Suter, read some of my poetry and wrote to some of her colleages about how much my verse adaptations of ancient poetry resembled Pope. I've never forgotten the compliment.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Brand

    Read for: EN1004: Explorers and Revolutionaries - Literature 1680-1830 Technically I only read "The Rape of the Lock." It was interesting enough, after I went to the lectures and understood it better, but it's difficult to grasp if you don't know much about the texts he's parodying. 7/10 Read for: EN1004: Explorers and Revolutionaries - Literature 1680-1830 Technically I only read "The Rape of the Lock." It was interesting enough, after I went to the lectures and understood it better, but it's difficult to grasp if you don't know much about the texts he's parodying. 7/10

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Arnold

    I love Pope, but I think that there will be a better selection of his poems out there. This is more like a taster, or an introduction to him I think. It even feels incomplete - somehow.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thoughtdome225

    Would love him if not for the rhyming couplets. They get irritating after about four lines (I'm not exaggerating) Would love him if not for the rhyming couplets. They get irritating after about four lines (I'm not exaggerating)

  16. 4 out of 5

    M.I. Lastman

    After Shakespeare, Pope is surely the most influential writer in the English language, he is also the funniest.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James Schwartz

    Classic! There are not many poets "above" Pope! Classic! There are not many poets "above" Pope!

  18. 5 out of 5

    伯爵夫人

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kittin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Varinder Singh

  21. 4 out of 5

    Khawar

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Stanley

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh Abbey

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Dorricott

  25. 4 out of 5

    Passerine

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Poole

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kellie Peters

  29. 5 out of 5

    Randi Young

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

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