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An Essay on Man

Alexander Pope

Book Overview: 

Pope’s Essay on Man, a masterpiece of concise summary in itself, can fairly be summed up as an optimistic inquiry into mankind’s place in the vast Chain of Being.

Each of the poem’s four Epistles takes a different perspective, presenting Man in relation to the universe, as individual, in society and, finally, tracing his prospects for achieving the goal of happiness.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The same which in a sire the sons obeyed,
A prince the father of a people made.

VI.  Till then, by Nature crowned, each patriarch sate,
King, priest, and parent of his growing state;
On him, their second providence, they hung,
Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue.
He from the wondering furrow called the food,
Taught to command the fire, control the flood,
Draw forth the monsters of the abyss profound,
Or fetch the aërial eagle to the ground.
Till drooping, sickening, dying they began
Whom they revered as God to mourn as man:
Then, looking up, from sire to sire, explored
One great first Father, and that first adored.
Or plain tradition that this all begun,
Conveyed unbroken faith from sire to son;
The worker from the work distinct was known,
And simple reason never sought but one:
Ere wit oblique had broke that steady light,
Man, like his. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Mr. Pope is the Dr. Seuss of philosophy.

Yes, we're back with another, slightly different edition. This one doesn't include his anti-pretentious landscaping poem, but instead has an iconic one called "An Essay On Criticism."

Some gems:
• "Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill / Appear in writing or in judging ill"

• "Some neither can for

Another English Lit class find.

This was wasn't exciting and I remember nothing from it.

I have to thank Andrew Marr for pointing me to Pope, who, for no other reason than that I was a silly teenager, at school I had always assumed to be dull. Not a bit of it. Andrew Marr, in “We British - The Poetry of a People” had called Pope a genius; I thought it was about time I became acquainted

What an exquisite philosophical poetry ! ! ! !

It is the best philosophy in poetic version and Every word has immense meaning so deeply around various topics but merely comprehend basics of man and their surroundings.
Intensely and supremely knitted in blossoming beauty of poetry.

Some of Greatest li

Overall, I agree with Samuel Johnson’s view on Pope’s An Essay on Man:

“The Essay on Man was a work of great labour and long consideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances. The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subjec

such a shapeshifting work of literature, at times I think, god Pope is just an idealistic show off and I;m really bored, but then he slips in a line or two that I really like, but I felt nothing reading this, probably because he wanted so hard to be such a witty guy that he put no actual humanity in

Pope’s Essay on Man, ironically enough, is not exactly an essay, and it’s not exactly on Man; It’s rather in verse, which might be considered as an attempt to reduce the considerable amount of yawning which happens during reading it, an attempt doomed to failure-at least by universal consensus. Also

Before I began reading these poems, I thought these would be just typical satires of the monarchy and filled with aristocratic 'wit'. But far beyond my expectations, these poems took me by surprise. His, "Essay on Man" is a deep meditation of big questions and because it is told through verse, it ma

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