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 pondering 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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Extra info for Alexander Pope’s Catholic Vision: “Slave to no sect”
The birds of heav’n shall vindicate their grain: Thine the full harvest of the golden year? Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer: The hog, that plows not nor obeys thy call, Lives on the labours of this lord of all. 27–42) The related question Pope also considers: Ask for what end the heav’nly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? 131–40) Pope rightly replies in kind to such mockery—with mockery. Pope’s response to anthropocentric desires and expectations reaches a climax in the fourth epistle.
It steadfastly works against, and in Eliot certainly deters, individualistic interpretation, the personal, or the part-ial, for comparing virtually removes the focus from the reader and points it at the object(s), where it belongs. I do not think that this has been sufficiently noted. Question yourself, your opinions, your judgment, Pope urges; “trust not yourself,” but instead turn to others, friend and foe alike, to reveal your errors, mis-steps, imprecision. More than one is essential. “Avoid Extremes” (384), counsels Pope, and, like Eliot, he urges, immerse yourself in the whole tradition: Be Homer’s Works your Study, and Delight, Read them by Day, and meditate by Night, Thence form your Judgment, thence your Maxims bring, And trace the Muses upward to their Spring; Still with It self compar’d, his Text peruse; And let your Comment be the Mantuan Muse.
9 Sir William Habington, quoted in Henry David Thoreau, The Portable Thoreau, ed. Carl Bode (New York: Viking Penguin, 1947), 559. 10 Michel de Montaigne, “Of Practice,” The Art of the Essay, ed. Lydia Fakundiny (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), 686. 11 Ibid. 12 Helen Vendler, Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2006). The remark actually appears on the dustjacket; no mention appears in Vendler’s critical text. S. Eliot, “The Metaphysical Poets,” Selected Essays, 3rd ed.