From Last Night's Reading I


From Last Night's Reading

I love Alexander Pope. I may be his one living fan. Study of Pope has all but vanished from the University. Indeed, I got but a small smattering in my undergraduate work when I took a course in eighteenth century writing. And yet Pope has such a wry wit and a quick line. He does not hesitate to smash preconceived notions and he is not kind to those who revel in their own foolishness. And so the excerpt below shows:

from Essay on Criticism Alexander Pope

               Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such,
          Who still are pleas'd too little or too much.
          At ev'ry trifle scorn to take offence,
          That always shows great pride, or little sense;
          Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best,
          Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest.
          Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move,
          For fools admire, but men of sense approve;
          As things seem large which we through mists descry,
          Dulness is ever apt to magnify.

I really like the advice for modern society--"At every trifle scorn to take offense." How often have we seen people in the blogworld become riled over a miswording or a difference of opinion that has no substance? We forget that it is not only permissable, but wonderful, that different people view things in different ways. Some become offended if all do not agree with them. On the other hand, isn't disagreement a source of error correction? Isn't it the way we learn when we have gone astray?

But better than the advice is the wonderful zinger--"That always shows great pride or little sense." Or, in some notable cases (I think of my own when I fly off the handle) both. In fact, I believe that little sense must walk hand in hand with great pride, because pride shoves out everything except an overweening sense of self--and if all of sense is occupied with self, there is little else that can wedge itself in.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 25, 2003 8:20 AM.

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