Alexander Pope is regarded as one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry, including The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism, as well as for his translation of Homer.
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Famous Alexander Pope Poems
Chorus Of Athenians
Ye shades, where sacred truth is sought;
Groves, where immortal Sages taught;
Where heav’nly visions of Plato fir’d,
And Epicurus lay inspir’d!
In vain your guiltless laurels stood
Unspotted long with human blood.
War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades,
And steel now glitters in the Muses’ shades.
Oh heav’n-born sisters! source of art!
Who charm the sense, or mend the heart;
Who lead fair Virtue’s train along,
Moral Truth, and mystic Song!
To what new clime, what distant sky,
Forsaken, friendless, shall ye fly?
Say, will you bless the bleak Atlantic shore?
Or bid the furious Gaul be rude no more?
When Athens sinks by fates unjust,
When wild Barbarians spurn her dust;
Perhaps ev’n Britain’s utmost shore,
Shall cease to blush with strager’s gore.
See Arts her savage sons control,
And Athens rising near the pole!
‘Till some new Tyrant lifts his purple hand,
And civil madness tears them from this land.
Ye Gods! what justice rules the ball?
Freedom and Arts together fall;
Fools grant whate’er Ambition craves,
And men, once ignorant, are slaves.
Oh curs’d effects of civil hate,
In ev’ry age, in ev’ry state!
Still, when the lust of tyrant power succeeds,
Some Athens perishes, some Tully bleeds.
While Celia’s Tears make sorrow bright,
Proud Grief sits swelling in her eyes;
The Sun, next those the fairest light,
Thus from the Ocean first did rise:
And thus thro’ Mists we see the Sun,
Which else we durst not gaze upon.
These silver drops, like morning dew,
Foretell the fervour of the day:
So from one Cloud soft show’rs we view,
And blasting lightnings burst away.
The Stars that fall from Celia’s eye
Declare our Doom in drawing nigh.
The Baby in that sunny Sphere
So like a Phaeton appears,
That Heav’n, the threaten’d World to spare,
Thought fit to drown him in her tears;
Else might th’ ambitious Nymph aspire,
To set, like him, Heav’n too on fire.
The Three Gentle Shepherds
Of gentle Philips will I ever sing,
With gentle Philips shall the valleys ring.
My numbers too for ever will I vary,
With gentle Budgell and with gentle Carey.
Or if in ranging of the names I judge ill,
With gentle Carey and with gentle Budgell:
Oh! may all gentle bards together place ye,
Men of good hearts, and men of delicacy.
May satire ne’er befool ye, or beknave ye,
And from all wits that have a knack, God save ye.
On Certain Ladies
When other fair ones to the shades go down,
Still Chloe, Flavin, Delia, stay in town:
Those ghosts of beauty wandering here reside,
And haunt the places where their honour died.
Phryne had talents for mankind,
Open she was, and unconfin’d,
Like some free port of trade:
Merchants unloaded here their freight,
And Agents from each foreign state,
Here first their entry made.
Her learning and good breeding such,
Whether th’ Italian or the Dutch,
Spaniards or French came to her:
To all obliging she’d appear:
S’il vous plaist, Monsieur.
Obscure by birth, renown’d by crimes,
Still changing names, religions, climes,
At length she turns a Bride:
In di’monds, pearls, and rich brocades,
She shines the first of batter’d jades,
And flutters in her pride.
So have I known those Insects fair
(Which curious Germans hold so rare)
Still vary shapes and dyes;
Still gain new Titles with new forms;
First grubs obscene, then wriggling worms,
Then painted butterflies.
Translation Of A Prayer Of Brutus
Goddess of woods, tremendous in the chase,
To mountain wolves and all the savage race,
Wide o’er the aerial vault extend thy sway,
And o’er the infernal regions void of day.
On thy third reign look down; disclose our fate,
In what new station shall we fix our seat?
When shall we next thy hallow’d altars raise,
And choirs of virgins celebrate thy praise?
The Messiah : A Sacred Eclogue
Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song,
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains, and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus, and the Aonian maids,
Delight no more – O thou, my voice inspire,
Who touched Isaiah’s hallowed lips with fire!
Rapt into future times the bard begun,
A virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a son!
From Jesse’s root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies;
The ethereal Spirit o’er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descend the mystic Dove.
Ye heavens! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower!
The sick and weak, the healing Plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail;
Returning justice lift aloft her scale.
Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend,
And white robed innocence from heaven descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
O spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!
See! nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
WIth all the incense of the breathing spring!
See! lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See! nodding forests on the mountains dance:
See! spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise;
And Carmel’s flowery top perfumes the skies.
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desart cheers;
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears:
A God, a God! the vocal hills reply,
The rocks proclaim the approaching Deity.
Lo! earth receives him from the bending skies!
Sink down ye mountains, and ye vallies rise!
With heads declined ye cedars homage pay!
Be smooth ye rocks, ye rapid floods give way!
The Saviour comes! by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him ye deaf, and all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day.
‘Tis he the obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe:
No sigh, no murmer the wide world shall hear;
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall death be bound,
And hell’s grim tyrant feel the eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pastures and the purest air:
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o’ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand, and in his bosom warms!
Thus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promis’d father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes;
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover’d o’er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad faulchion in a plough-share end.
Then palaces shall rise: the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-liv’d fire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow’d, shall reap the field.
The swain in barren desarts with surprise
Sees lillies spring, and sudden verdure rise,
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear;
On rifted rocks, the dragon’s late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy vallies once perplex’d with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn;
The leafless shrubs the flow’ring palms succeed,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.
The lambs with wolves shall grace the verdant mead,
And boys in flow’ry bands the tyger lead;
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim’s feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake;
Pleas’d, the green lustres of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongues shall innocently play.
Rise, crown’d with light, imperial Salem rise!
Exalt thy tow’ry head, and lift thy eyes!
See! a long race thy spacious courts adorn;
See! future sons and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on ev’ry side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See! barb’rous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See! thy bright altars throng’d with prostrate kings,
And heap’d with products of Sabaean springs!
For thee Idume’s spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir’s mountains glow.
See! heav’n its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day!
No more the rising sun shall gild the morn,
Nor ev’ning Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolv’d in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze,
O’erflow thy courts: the Light Himself shall shine
Reveal’d, and God’s eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix’d his word, his saving pow’r remains,
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns.
On Mr. Gay
Of Manners gentle, of Affections mild;
In Wit, a Man; Simplicity, a Child:
With native Humour temp’ring virtuous Rage,
Form’d to delight at once and lash the age:
Above Temptation, in a low Estate, 5
And uncorrupted, ev’n among the Great:
A safe Companion, and an easy Friend,
Unblam’d thro’ Life, lamented in thy End.
These are Thy Honours! not that here thy Bust
Is mix’d with Heroes, or with Kings thy dust; 10
But that the Worthy and the Good shall say,
Striking their pensive bosoms-
On His Grotto At Twickenham
Thou who shalt stop, where Thames’ translucent wave
Shines a broad Mirror thro’ the shadowy Cave;
Where ling’ring drops from min’ral Roofs distill,
And pointed Crystals break the sparkling Rill,
Unpolish’d Gems no ray on Pride bestow,
And latent Metals innocently glow.
Approach! Great Nature studiously behold;
And eye the Mine without a wish for Gold.
Approach; but awful! Lo! th’ Egerian Grot,
Where, nobly-pensive, St. John sate and thought;
Where British sighs from dying Wyndham stole,
And the bright flame was shot thro’ Marchmont’s Soul.
Let such, such only tread this sacred Floor,
Who dare to love their Country, and be poor.
Macer : A Character
When simple Macer, now of high renown,
First fought a Poet’s Fortune in the Town,
‘Twas all th’ Ambition his high soul could feel,
To wear red stockings, and to dine with Steele.
Some Ends of verse his Betters might afford,
And gave the harmless fellow a good word.
Set up with these he ventur’d on the Town,
And with a borrow’d Play, out-did poor Crown.
There he stopp’d short, nor since has write a tittle,
But has the wit to make the most of little;
Like stunted hide-bound Trees, that just have got
Sufficient sap at once to bear and rot.
Now he begs Verse, and what he gets commends,
Not of the Wits his foes, but Fools his friends.
So some coarse Country Wench, almost decay’d,
Trudges to town, and first turns Chambermaid;
Awkward and supple, each devoir to pay;
She flatters her good Lady twice a day;
Thought wond’rous honest, tho’ of mean degree,
And strangely lik’d for her Simplicity:
In a translated Suit, then tries the Town,
With borrow’d Pins, and Patches not her own:
But just endur’d the winter she began,
And in four months a batter’d Harridan.
Now nothing left, but wither’d, pale, and shrunk,
To bawd for others, and go shares with Punk.
Come gentle Air! th’ AEolian shepherd said,
While Procris panted in the secret shade:
Come, gentle Air, the fairer Delia cries,
While at her feet her swain expiring lies.
Lo the glad gales o’er all her beauties stray,
Breathe on her lips, and in her bosom play!
In Delia’s hand this toy is fatal found,
Nor could that fabled dart more surely wound:
Both gifts destructive to the givers prove;
Alike both lovers fall by those they love.
Yet guiltless too this bright destroyer lives,
At random wounds, nor knows the wound she gives:
She views the story with attentive eyes,
And pities Procris, while her lover dies.
The Looking-Glass. : On Mrs. Pulteney
With scornful mien, and various toss of air,
Fantastic vain, and insolently fair,
Grandeur intoxicates her giddy brain,
She looks ambition, and she moves disdain.
Far other carriage grac’d her virgin life,
But charming G–y’s lost in P–y’s wife.
Not greater arrogance in him we find,
And this conjunction swells at least her mind:
O could the sire renown’d in glass, produce
One faithful mirror for his daughter’s use!
Wherein she might her haughty errors trace,
And by reflection learn to mend her face:
The wonted sweetness to her form restore,
Be what she was, and charm mankind once more!
On Seeing The Ladies Crux-Easton Walk In The Woods By The Grotto.
Authors the world and their dull brains have traced
To fix the ground where Paradise was placed;
Mind not their learned whims and idle talk;
Here, here’s the place where these bright angels walk
On The Countess Of Burlington Cutting Paper
Pallas grew vapourish once, and odd,
She would not do the least right thing,
Either for goddess, or for god,
Nor work, nor play, nor paint, nor sing.
Jove frown’d, and, ‘Use,’ he cried, ‘those eyes
So skilful, and those hands so taper;
Do something exquisite and wise -‘
She bow’d, obey’d him, – and cut paper.
This vexing him who gave her birth,
Thought by all heaven a burning shame;
What does she next, but bids, on earth,
Her Burlington do just the same.
Pallas, you give yourself strange airs;
But sure you’ll find it hard to spoil
The sense and taste of one that bears
The name of Saville and of Boyle.
Alas! one bad example shown;
How quickly all the sex pursue!
See, madam, see the arts o’erthrown,
Between John Overton and you!
Occasioned By Some Verses Of His Grace The Duke Of Buckingham
Muse, ’tis enough: at length thy labour ends,
And thou shalt live, for Buckingham commends.
Let Crowds and Critics now my verse assail,
Let Dennis write, and nameless numbers rail:
This more than pays whole years of thankless pain;
Time, health, and fortune are not lost in vain.
Sheffield approves, consenting Phoebus bends,
And I and Malice from this hour are friends.