Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) was an English poet and satirist of the Enlightenment era, who is considered one of the most prominent English poets of the early 18th century.     He is credited as the source of the quotations, “damning with faint praise” and “to err is human; to forgive, divine”.

The rape of the lock

This is his most famous poem.     The rape of the lock is a humorous indictment of the vanities and idleness of 18th-century high society.     A mock-epic, it satirises a high-society quarrel between Arabella Fermor (“Belinda” in the poem) and Lord Petre, who had snipped a lock of hair from her head without permission.     Pope intended his verses to cool hot tempers and to encourage his friends to laugh at their own folly.      Click icon to find out more.

Here is the text of The rape of the lock, canto 1.      Pope begins with the following observation:

What dire offence from am’rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things

The Dunciad

Though The Dunciad first appeared anonymously in Dublin, its authorship was not in doubt.      Pope pilloried a host of other “hacks”, “scribblers” and “dunces”.     Part of his inspiration was a perceived slight from Princess Caroline who stopped her support, or patronage, when she became queen.     To be fair, she had a much busier schedule as queen.     Click icon for more about the poem.

Here is the text of The Dunciad, book 1.     You do not have to read very far to find the telling reference to George I and II:

Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first

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