Alexander Pope: Rondeau

YOU know where you did despise
(Tother day) my little Eyes,
Little Legs, and little Thighs,
And some things, of little Size,
You know where.

You, tis true, have fine black eyes,
Taper legs, and tempting Thighs,
Yet what more than all we prize
Is a Thing of little Size,
You know where.


From a to Henry Cromwell, June 24, 1710. First published 1726.

Alexander Pope: Solitude

HOW happy he, who free from care
The rage of courts, and noise of towns;
Contented breaths his native air,
In his own grounds.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest! who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years slide swift away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix’d; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unheard, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me dye;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lye.

Alexander Pope: On a certain Lady at Court

I KNOW the thing that’s most uncommon;
(Envy be silent and attend!)
I know a Reasonable Woman,
Handsome and witty, yet a Friend.

Not warp’d by Passion, aw’d by Rumour,
Not grave thro’ Pride, or gay thro’ Folly,
An equal Mixture of good Humour,
And sensible soft Melancholy.

‘Has she no Faults then (Envy says) Sir?’
Yes she has one, I must aver:
When all the World conspires to praise her,
The Woman’s deaf, and does not hear.

Alexander Pope: Imitation of Martial

AT length, my Friend (while Time, with still career,
Wafts on his gentle wing his eightieth year),
Sees his past days safe out of Fortune’s power,
Nor dreads approaching Fate’s uncertain hour;
Reviews his life, and in the strict survey,
Finds not one moment he could wish away,
Pleased with the series of each happy day.
Such, such a man extends his life’s short space,
And from the goal again renews the race;
For he lives twice, who can at once employ
The present well, and ev’n the past enjoy.


Referred to in a letter from Trumbull to Pope dated January, 1716. The epigram imitated is X, 23.

From Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock, Canto III

CLOSE by those Meads for ever crown’d with Flow’rs,
Where Thames with Pride surveys his rising Tow’rs,
There stands a Structure of Majestick Frame,
Which from the neighb’ring Hampton takes its Name.
Here Britain’s Statesmen oft the Fall foredoom
Of Foreign Tyrants, and of Nymphs at home;
Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey,
Dost sometimes Counsel take—and sometimes Tea.

Hither the Heroes and the Nymphs resort,
To taste awhile the Pleasures of a Court;
In various Talk th’ instructive hours they past,
Who gave the Ball, or paid the Visit last:
One speaks the Glory of the British Queen,
And one describes a charming Indian Screen.
A third interprets Motions, Looks, and Eyes;
At ev’ry Word a Reputation dies.
Snuff, or the Fan, supply each Pause of Chat,
With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.

Mean while declining from the Noon of Day,
The Sun obliquely shoots his burning Ray;
The hungry Judges soon the Sentence sign,
And Wretches hang that Jury-men may Dine;
The Merchant from th’exchange returns in Peace,
And the long Labours of the Toilette cease.

From Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock, Canto IV

She said; then raging to Sir Plume repairs,
And bids her Beau demand the precious Hairs:
(Sir Plume, of Amber Snuff-box justly vain,
And the nice Conduct of a clouded Cane)
With earnest Eyes, and round unthinking Face,
He first the Snuff-box open’d, then the Case,
And thus broke out— “My Lord, why, what the Devil?
“Z—ds! damn the Lock! ‘fore Gad, you must be civil!
“Plague on’t! ’tis past a Jest—nay prithee, Pox!
“Give her the Hair”—he spoke, and rapp’d his Box.

It grieves me much (reply’d the Peer again)
Who speaks so well shou’d ever speak in vain.
But by this Lock, this sacred Lock I swear,
(Which never more shall join its parted Hair,
Which never more its Honours shall renew,
Clipt from the lovely Head where late it grew)
That while my Nostrils draw the vital Air,
This Hand, which won it, shall for ever wear.
He spoke, and speaking, in proud Triumph spread
The long-contended Honours of her Head.

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