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The poem was originally published anonymously, Pope not admitting its authorship until its appearance in The Works, II (April 1735).The Essay on Man was originally conceived as part of a longer philosophical poem (see Pope's introductory statement on the Design).I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's error and misery. The absurdity of conceiting himself the final cause of the creation, or expecting that perfection in the moral world, which is not in the natural, ver.
Amanda Holmes reads an excerpt from section III of Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man: Epistle 1.” Have a suggestion for a poem? If we select your entry, you’ll win a copy of a poetry collection edited by David Lehman.
This episode was produced by Stephanie Bastek and features the song “Canvasback” by Chad Crouch.
I was unable to treat this part of my subject in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, breaking the chain of reasoning: If any man unite all these without diminution of any of them freely confesshe will compass a thing above my capacity."What is now Published is only to be considered as a general Map of Man, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits, and their connection, and leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts which are to follow. The gradations of sense, instinct, thought, refection, reason; that Reason alone countervails all the other faculties, ver.
Consequently, these Epistles in their progress (if I have health and leisure to make any progress) will be less dry, and more susceptible of poetical ornament. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfections of the angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the brutes; though, to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable.
Although Pope worked on this poem from 1729 and had finished the first three epistles by 1731, they did not appear until between February and May 1733, and the fourth epistle was published in January 1734.
The first collected edition was published in April 1734.If I could flatter myself that this Essay has any merit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seemingly opposite, in passing over terms utterly unintelligible, and in forming a temperate yet not inconsistent, and a short yet not imperfect system of Ethics."This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons. The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire, ver. It is probable the story of the jackal's hunting for the lion was occasioned by observation of this defect of scent in that terrible animal." Back to Line The double order in human, angel, man is explained by such traditional doctrine as: "In our minds, verily, we be so celestial and of so godly capacity that we may surmount above the nature of angels and be unite, knit, and made one with God" (Erasmus, Enchiridon, IV).The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts so written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards: The other may seem odd, but is true I found I could express them more shortly this way than in prose itself; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their conciseness. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sensual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and of all creatures to Man. How much further this order and subordination of living creatures may extend, above and below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation must be destroyed, ver. The gradation of sense, instinct, thought, reflection, reason: that reason alone countervails all other faculties. How much further this order and subordination of living creatures may extend, above and below us; were any part of which broken, not that part only, but the whole connected creation must be destroyed.“Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, And drawn supports, upheld by God, or Thee?Pope urges us to learn from what is around us, what we can observe ourselves in nature, and to not pry into God’s business or question his ways; For everything that happens, both good and bad, happens for a reason.This idea is summed up in the very last lines of the poem when he says, “And, Spite of pride in erring reason’s spite, / One truth is clear, Whatever IS, is RIGHT.”(Pope 293-294) The poem is broken up into four epistles each of which is labeled as its own subcategory of the overall work. The pride of aiming at more knowledge, and pretending to more perfection, the cause of man's error and misery.The impiety of putting himself in the place of God, and judging of the fitness or unfitness, perfection or imperfection, justice or injustice of his dispensations. The unreasonableness of his complaints against Providence, while on the one hand he demands the perfections of the angels, and on the other the bodily qualifications of the brutes; though, to possess any of the sensitive faculties in a higher degree, would render him miserable. That throughout the whole visible world, an universal order and gradation in the sentual and mental faculties is observed, which causes a subordination of creature to creature, and all creatures to man.They are as follows: In the introduction to Pope’s first Epistle, he summarizes the central thesis of his essay in the last line.The purpose of “An Essay on Man” is then to shift or enhance the reader’s perception of what is natural or correct.