By G. Atkins
A clean examine the best poet of early eighteenth-century England, this hugely readable booklet makes a speciality of Pope's spiritual considering and significant poems. G. Douglas Atkins extends the argument that the Roman Catholic poet was once no Deist, 'closet' or differently.
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Additional resources for Alexander Pope’s Catholic Vision: “Slave to no sect”
Eliot, “The Metaphysical Poets” and “Lancelot Andrewes,” Selected Essays, 3rd ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1951), 281–91, 341–53. 1057/9781137344786 2 “Slave to no sect”: From Part to Whole Abstract: The focus on the parts–whole issue, prominent in An Essay on Criticism, appears throughout Pope’s poetry, by no means confined to critical or strictly literary matters. He explores its thematics from a variety of perspectives, in fact: from the lubricious and technically sophisticated “imitation” Sober Advice from Horace to the theodicy An Essay on Man and the Moral Essays.
In the four Moral Essays, more successfully than in An Essay on Man, Pope—the poet and the essayist—brings together, unites, philosophy and poetry. Perhaps no one before him had managed anything quite like this, although Dryden clearly had moved in this direction in Religio Laici toward the end of the previous century. Dryden, too, confronted the situation of the essay, his layman’s faith addressing a cultural dilemma and potential disaster that the essay mirrored in its elevation of the private individual—and that the essay, willy-nilly, quite possibly exacerbated, or at the very least figured to exacerbate.
Experience, this; by Man’s oppression curst, They seek the second not to lose the first. (199–214) If, Pope writes, concluding these reflections, “Pow’r [is] all their end, . . Beauty [is] all the means” (220). But even if a woman show the “temper” of Martha Blount, to whom the poem is addressed, and who, “if she rules” her mate, “never shows she rules, / Charms by accepting, by submitting sways, / Yet has her humour most, when she obeys,” “Woman’s at best a Contradiction still” (267–70). Pope then offers these verses, elaborating on that conclusion: Heav’n, when it strives to polish all it can Its last best work, but forms a softer Man; Picks from each sex, to make its Fav’rite blest, Your love of Pleasure, our desire of Rest, Blends, in exception to all gen’ral rules, Your Taste of Follies, with our Scorn of Fools, Reserve with Frankness, Art with Truth ally’d, Courage with Softness, Modesty with Pride, Fix’d Principles, with Fancy ever new; Shakes all together, and produces—You.
Alexander Pope’s Catholic Vision: “Slave to no sect” by G. Atkins