Skip Nav

An Essay on Man: Epistle I

François Voltaire

❶When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep.

Navigate Guide

Keep Exploring Britannica
Alexander Pope
Introduction

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: But his most probing and startling writing of these years comes in the four Moral Essays —35 , the series of Horatian imitations,…. An Essay on Man —34 was intended as an introductory book discussing the overall design of this work. The poem has often been charged with shallowness and philosophical inconsistency, and there is indeed little that is original in its thought, almost all of which can….

Prosecutions for obscenity in other European countries also betrayed a merging of moral and political concerns. Couplet , a pair of end-rhymed lines of verse that are self-contained in grammatical structure and meaning.

A couplet may be formal or closed , in which case each of the two lines is end-stopped, or it may be run-on or open , with the meaning of the first line continuing to the…. He is one of the most epigrammatic of all English authors. Life at Twickenham parody by Wilkes In obscenity: Obscenity laws in the 18th and 19th centuries place in English literature In English literature: Help us improve this article!

Contact our editors with your feedback. An Essay on Man. Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be known,. But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,. Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,. Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?

First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,. Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade? Then, in the scale of reas'ning life, 'tis plain. There must be somewhere, such a rank as man: Respecting man, whatever wrong we call,. In human works, though labour'd on with pain,. A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;. When the proud steed shall know why man restrains. His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains: When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,.

Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend. His actions', passions', being's, use and end;. Why doing, suff'ring, check'd, impell'd; and why. Then say not man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;. His knowledge measur'd to his state and place,.

What matter, soon or late, or here or there? Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of fate,. All but the page prescrib'd, their present state: From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,. And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n: Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;. Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore! What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,.

Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;. His soul, proud science never taught to stray. Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n;. Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,. Where slaves once more their native land behold,. No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold. Say, here he gives too little, there too much: Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,. If man alone engross not Heav'n's high care,. Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,.

In pride, in reas'ning pride, our error lies;. All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies. Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine,. Earth for whose use? So Man, who here seems principal alone, Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown, Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal; 'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.

When the proud steed shall know why Man restrains His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains; When the dull Ox, why now he breaks the clod, Is now a victim, and now Egypt's God: Then say not Man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault; Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought; His knowledge measur'd to his state and place, His time a moment, and a point his space.

If to be perfect in a certain sphere, What matter, soon or late, or here or there? The blest today is as completely so, As who began a thousand years ago.

Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of Fate, All but the page prescrib'd, their present state; From brutes what men, from men what spirits know: Or who could suffer Being here below? The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play?

Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food, And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. Oh blindness to the future! Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar; Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore! What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now. 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.

To Be, contents his natural desire, He asks no Angel's wing, no Seraph's 8 fire; But thinks, admitted to that equal sky, His faithful dog shall bear him company. In Pride, in reas'ning Pride, our error lies; All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.

Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes, Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods. Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, "Tis for mine: For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r, Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r; Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise; My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies.

If the great end be human Happiness, Then Nature deviates; and can Man do less? As much that end a constant course requires Of show'rs and sun-shine, as of Man's desires; As much eternal springs and cloudless skies, As Men for ever temp'rate, calm, and wise. If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav'n's design, Why then a Borgia, 11 or a Catiline?

From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning springs; Account for moral as for nat'ral things: Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit? In both, to reason right is to submit. Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear, Were there all harmony, all virtue here; That never air or ocean felt the wind; That never passion discompos'd the mind: What would this Man?

Now upward will he soar, And little less than Angel, 15 would be more; Now looking downwards, just as griev'd appears To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears. Made for his use all creatures if he call, Say what their use, had he the pow'rs of all? Nature to these, without profusion kind, The proper organs, proper pow'rs assign'd; Each seeming want compensated of course, Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force; All in exact proportion to the state; Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.

Each beast, each insect, happy in its own; Is Heav'n unkind to Man, and Man alone?

Similar Books

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

An Essay on Man: Epistle I By Alexander Pope About this Poet The acknowledged master of the heroic couplet and one of the primary tastemakers of the Augustan age, Alexander Pope was a central figure in the Neoclassical movement of the early 18th century. He was known for having perfected the rhymed couplet form of his idol.

Privacy FAQs

Essay on Man, by Alexander Pope The Project Gutenberg eBook, Essay on Man, by Alexander Pope, Edited by Henry Morley This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.

About Our Ads

An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in – It is an effort to rationalize or rather "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" ().It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. The work that more than any other popularized the optimistic philosophy, not only in England but throughout Europe, was Alexander Pope's Essay on Man.

Cookie Info

An Essay on Man: An Essay on Man, philosophical essay written in heroic couplets of iambic pentameter by Alexander Pope, published in – It was conceived as part of a larger work that Pope never completed. The poem consists of four epistles. The first epistle surveys relations between humans and the universe;. The subtitle of the first epistle is “Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe,” and this section deals with man’s place in the cosmos. Pope argues that to justify God’s ways to man must necessarily be to justify His ways in relation to all other things. God rules over.