The human condition, and the genius of Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (from September 24, 2010)

Philosopher-poet, Alexander Pope was an 18th century critical genius, at dissecting the human condition.

In a short series, I’ll be coming back to Mr. Pope, in parsing some very important – and oft quoted – works of particularly unique insight, that are still revered today. So, by way of introduction, for those who’ve never been touched by the depth of his understanding, or the genius of his craftsmanship as a wordsmith, I offer the following:

From the 2nd Epistle, of his Essay on Man,
by Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)

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 confused;
Still by himself abused or disabused;
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!

                   ( Public Domain )

'10 MAth footer, Bk


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