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Alexander Pope – 20 December 2007
Alexander Pope, the foremost poet and satirist of the period in
English literature called the “Augustan Age,” was born 21 May 1688. A
brilliant child, at the age of twelve he wrote “Ode to Solitude.”
“Essay on Criticism” is considered Pope’s greatest work, and his “The
Rape of the Lock,” one of his wittiest.
Some of his sayings, such as “Fools rush in where angels fear to
tread,” “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” and “To err is human,
to forgive divine," are frequently heard, even now. The last part of
Pope’s life was taken up with the writing of his “Moral Essays,”
including the often quoted “Essay on Man.” Alexander Pope died 30 May
The last two lines of the following poem are also frequently quoted.
The Dying Christian to His Soul
By Alexander Pope
(21 May 1688 - 30 May 1744)
Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame!
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
O, the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life!
Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?
The world recedes; it disappears!
Heaven opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring:
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O grave! where is thy victory?
O death! where is thy sting?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful. At the
same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the
world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true
peace and compassion.
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