Then criticism the Muse's handmaid prov'd, To dress her charms, and make her more belov'd; But following wits from that intention stray'd; Who could not win the mistress, woo'd the maid; Against the poets their own arms they turn'd, Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn'd.
So modern 'pothecaries, taught the art By doctor's bills to play the doctor's part, Bold in the practice of mistaken rules, Prescribe, apply, and call their masters fools.
All fools have still an itching to deride, And fain would be upon the laughing side.
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite, There are, who judge still worse than he can write.
Pope grew up on his father’s property at Binfield in Windsor Forest, where he read avidly and gained an appreciation for the natural world.
Though he remained in ill health throughout his life, he was able to support himself as a translator and writer. Arbuthnot” and the mock epic “The Rape of the Lock.” To read his work is to be exposed to the order and wit of the 18th century poetry that preceded the Romantic poets.But you who seek to give and merit fame, And justly bear a critic's noble name, Be sure your self and your own reach to know, How far your genius, taste, and learning go; Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet, And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit, And wisely curb'd proud man's pretending wit: As on the land while here the ocean gains, In other parts it leaves wide sandy plains; Thus in the soul while memory prevails, The solid pow'r of understanding fails; Where beams of warm imagination play, The memory's soft figures melt away.But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd, Is by ill colouring but the more disgrac'd, So by false learning is good sense defac'd; Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools, And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.In search of wit these lose their common sense, And then turn critics in their own defence: Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write, Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's spite.One science only will one genius fit; So vast is art, so narrow human wit: Not only bounded to peculiar arts, But oft in those, confin'd to single parts.Like kings we lose the conquests gain'd before, By vain ambition still to make them more; Each might his sev'ral province well command, Would all but stoop to what they understand.He advocates looking at a whole piece of work, instead of being swayed by some of its showier or faulty parts: “As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, / T’ avoid great errors, must the less commit.” He advises against too much ornamentation in writing, and against fancy style that communicates little of merit.In his description of versification, his lines enact the effects of clumsy writing: “And ten low words oft creep in one dull line,” and “A needless Alexandrine ends the song, / That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.” In Part III, Pope discusses what critics should do, holding up the “Ancients” as models, including Aristotle (the “Stagirite”) who was respected by the lawless poets: “Poets, a race long unconfin’d and free, / Still fond and proud of savage liberty, / Receiv’d his laws; and stood convinc’d ‘twas fit, / Who conquer’d nature, should preside o’er wit.” PART 1 '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 mislead our sense.Just precepts thus from great examples giv'n, She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'n.The gen'rous critic fann'd the poet's fire, And taught the world with reason to admire.