Saturday, May 21, 2022

May 21: Alexander Pope, English poet


Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was an English poet and man of letters of the Augustan period (first half of the 18th century to the 1740s), and one of its "stars." The foremost English poet of the time, and a master of the heroic couplet, he is best known for his satires, like The Rape of the Lock, a mock-epic in which a lock of hair is stolen ("rape" here is an old sense of "snatch, grab, carry off"), and The Dunciad, featuring the goddess "Dulness." He also wrote a long poem, An Essay on Criticism, with such famous lines as "To err is human; to forgive, divine," "A little learning is a dang'rous thing," and "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread"; and he is noted for his translation of Homer. He is the second-most quoted author in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (after Shakespeare), and, like the Bard, many of his lines, like those just mentioned, have crept into common speech, as have "damning with faint praise," "to err is human; to forgive, divine," and many more. His major works number nearly 20, and there are many more besides.


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