An Essay on Man – Alexander Pope excerpts

From pride, from pride, our very reas’ning springs;

Account for moral, as for nat’ral things:

Why charge we Heav’n in those, in these acquit?

In both, to reason right is to submit.

 

       Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,

Were there all harmony, all virtue here;

That never air or ocean felt the wind;

That never passion discompos’d the mind.

But ALL subsists by elemental strife;

And passions are the elements of life.

The gen’ral order, since the whole began,

Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.

 

 

       Cease then, nor order imperfection name:

Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.

Know thy own point: This kind, this due degree

Of blindness, weakness, Heav’n bestows on thee.

Submit.—In this, or any other sphere,

Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:

Safe in the hand of one disposing pow’r,

Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.

All nature is but art, unknown to thee;

All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;

All discord, harmony, not understood;

All partial evil, universal good:

And, spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,

One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.

 

 

 

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan

The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;

The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,

Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!

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