Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The pattern in general
 Early and romantic
 The essays
 Late and satirical

Group Title: reach of art
Title: The reach of art
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Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    The pattern in general
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Early and romantic
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
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        Page 51
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        Page 53
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        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    The essays
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
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        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
    Late and satirical
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
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Full Text

A Study in the
Prosody of Pope
by Jacob H. Adler

University of Florida Monographs
No. 16, Spring 1964

p636 u





A Study in the
Prosody of Pope
by Jacob H. Adler

University of Florida Monographs
No. 16, Spring 1964



Professor of English

Professor of Speech

Professor of Philosophy

Professor of Music

Professor of English

Associate Professor of German




- II --I I



Over the years I have owed thanks for their
help in my work on Pope's prosody to many
people: to the late George Sherburn and to
Walter Jackson Bate, the co-directors of my Har-
vard University doctoral dissertation in which
the present study (under the same title) had its
origins; to various colleagues, at the University
of Kentucky and elsewhere; to those administer-
ing the University of Kentucky Research Fund,
from which came money for the typing; and to
my wife, without whose multitudinous assist-
ance I should probably never write a line. In
this study, that portion of Chapter III dealing
with An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on
Man parallels in part my article "Balance in
Pope's Essays," English Studies, XLIII (Dec.,
1962), 457-467.


Sshall continue my enquiries into Milton's art
of versification. Since, however minute the
employment may appear, of analysing lines into
syllables, and whatever ridicule may be incurred
by a solemn deliberation upon accents and
pauses, it is certain that without this petty
knowledge no man can be a poet; and that from
the proper disposition of single sounds results
that harmony that adds force to reason, and
gives grace to sublimity; that shackles attention
and governs passions.

-Samuel Johnson, Rambler 88.


Introduction 1

1. The Pattern in
General 5

2. Early and
Romantic 34

3. The Essays 64

4. Late and
Satirical 86


t is the purpose of this study to offer an analysis of Alexander
Pope's prosodic techniques as they varied from poem to poem
throughout his career. In spite of all the work which has been done
on Pope as a technician in recent decades, this sort of survey has
not yet been undertaken. Pope's often-stated belief that the style
of a work should vary according to its subject matter, even in the
less noticeable aspects of style, suggests that variation is fairly wide,
and that a study of the techniques of individual poems will reveal
much about Pope's art which has not yet received comment. A
major poetic career as long as Pope's would suggest the same thing,
though the variety of change is probably not as wide in his case as
in many others, since his precocity was exceptional and his verse
form remained, almost always, the same. Nevertheless the variety
is great. And if it has not so far been adequately studied, several
reasons may be suggested: first, the common belief of well over a
century that if every warbler has his tune by heart his range must
be narrow, that the range of heroic couplets is narrow anyhow, that
the technique of a "prose" poet is not worth that particular kind
of attention. Second, the twentieth-century scholars and critics who
have studied Pope have not concentrated their attention on this
particular area; if they cover his whole career, their attention is not
altogether on versification;1 if they cover one aspect of his versi-
fication thoroughly, then they are concerned with the technique
generally rather than the variations throughout his career-and in
any case they are concerned with only certain aspects.2 Finally, the

1. Thus Rebecca Price Parkin, for example, deals with versification hardly
at all (The Poetic Workmanship of Alexander Pope [Minneapolis, Univ. of
Minnesota Press, 1955]), and while she treats a wide variety of aspects of Pope's
"workmanship," she only occasionally gives a poem-by-poem treatment, and
then only briefly and selectively. Geoffrey Tillotson treats surprisingly few
aspects of versification (On the Poetry of Pope, 2d ed. [Oxford, The Clarendon
Press, 1950]), and his treatment of those aspects is eclectic, if highly illumin-
ating. Both Miss Parkin and Tillotson are primarily concerned with Pope's
technique in general terms. Robert K. Root is also concerned with general
technique (The Poetical Career of Alexander Pope [Princeton, Princeton Univ.
Press, 19381), and while he does go through Pope's whole career for critico-
biographical purposes, he treats versification in only one chapter, and there
treats only certain aspects (e.g., caesura), and treats those aspects generally.
2. E.g., W. K. Wimsatt, "One Relation of Rhyme to Reason," The Verbal

statements of Pope himself about prosody lead to the view, still not
entirely obliterated, that his range must have been narrower than it
is; and the standard eighteenth-century critical views upon prosody
(though they themselves varied much more widely than is usually
suspected) have offered support to the mistaken idea that Pope's
range is narrow, since he is still considered the standard exemplar
of eighteenth-century theories of versification. To be sure, the
twentieth-century critics-Sherburn, Root, Tillotson, Miss Sitwell,
Miss Parkin, Wimsatt, and others-have convinced us that Pope
was capable of a very cunning skill within that narrow range; but
the range is wider than the critics have suggested, and in any case
no one has traced the variation in technique from major poem to
major poem throughout Pope's career.
As a preliminary to such a tracing, the first chapter of this study
will be concerned with examining Pope's prosodic technique in
general, in order, first, to establish the norm, and, second, to de-
scribe in detail aspects of Pope's general prosodic technique, which
have not yet been given special attention, or even, in certain cases,
noted at all. I have in another place3 given close attention to the
relationship between Pope's general practice in versification, his
statements on the subject of versification, and general eighteenth-
century critical views, showing that Pope's practice, from the be-
ginning, varied both from his own theories as stated in his letter
on prosody and from the majority critical opinion of his day, and
that this divergence became greater as his career went on. In this
study, therefore, that subject will be given only such attention as is
needed to determine actual practice and variety of practice, though
I have tried throughout to deal with Pope's technique in terms of
his and the eighteenth-century's understanding of prosody. Simi-
larly, if some aspect of Pope's general practice has already been
thoroughly and (in my view) adequately explored, there seems no
reason to repeat that exploration; such aspects will be summarized
briefly or referred to in notes. When I have examined Pope's
general techniques, then, either briefly or more fully as the case
may require, I shall turn in the later three chapters to the explora-
tion of variation in his practice from major poem to major poem,
and an examination of those techniques peculiar to (or mainly
prominent in) particular poems throughout his career. But it is
Icon (Lexington, Univ. of Kentucky Press, 1954).
3. "Pope and the Rules of Prosody," PMLA, LXXXVI (June, 1961), 218-226.


the better part of wisdom for any critic to add that Pope's technique
is so complex and his devices so various that further exploration
will continue to be needed. This is only another way of saying that
Pope was a major poet.
In considering Pope's versification, I shall treat first techniques of
meter (including pause) and of line and couplet; next techniques
involving words as words, such as the use of monosyllables and of
rhetorical devices; and finally those special techniques of sound,
such as alliteration and rime, which are concerned directly with
neither words as words nor with meter. To be sure, all three groups
have to do with sound. But the techniques involved in producing
sound in poetry are sufficiently various in both origin and effect
to make a division not only convenient but valid. Rhythm, for
instance-which is a matter of sound-is inherent in all speech; rime
-also a matter of sound-is externally and eclectically applied.
But all techniques of versification have also to do with sense.
The danger, as Dr. Samuel Johnson pointed out,4 though his
examples seem not always the wisest, is that one will ascribe to
sound alone an effect dependent upon sense alone; and many others
have followed Dr. Johnson in showing that different words pro-
ducing very similar combinations of sound in very similar arrange-
ments will, since the significance is different, produce entirely
different effects, or even none at all. Such warnings are undoubtedly
salutary. The problem is where to draw the line. I have tried in
this study to avoid the fanciful; but since any serious reader of
poetry has his own ideas of the limitations of sound in reinforcing
sense, no reader can ever be completely satisfied with the perceptions
of another.
Much the same thing can be said of metrical analysis. Inevitably
there will be variation from reader to reader in the placement of

4. E.g., Life of Pope, Lives of the English Poets (New York, Everyman's
Library, 1925), II, 219-220. My own view would be close to that of Charles F.
Hockett, who finds "the murmuring of innumerable bees" onomatopoetic, and
who considers the fact that John Crowe Ransom's "the murdering of innumerable
beeves" is not onomatopoetic to be "irrelevant," because "onomatopoeia can be
judged only in terms of sound and meaning" (A Course in Modern Linguistics
[New York, Macmillan and Co., 19581, pp. 298-299). Note also I. A. Richards'
belief that "onomatopoeia . is rarely independent of the sense" (Principles
of Literary Criticism [New York, Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 19251, pp. 128-129).
Moreover, Pope's term representative meter is far broader in its implications
than mere onomatopoeia, especially as the latter term is likely to be limited to
the twentieth century.

caesuras and in the scansion of certain lines. The analyst can only
hope that his own ear is reasonably normal; and that his subjectivity
partakes of something like that universality by which so many
eighteenth-century aestheticians hoped to reconcile personal taste
with general and long-lasting approbation.



p hope's principal statement regarding metrics concerned the cae-
sura, where his extremely rigid rule, stated in his letter on
prosody,' that the pause always occurs after the fourth, fifth, or
sixth syllables in a pentameter line, is simply at odds with all ob-
servable facts of English versification. It is true that pauses in the
couplet are more commonly central than in blank verse; but in
Pope himself one finds lines with the pause after the eighth
Musick resembles Poetry,/in each, (E. on C., 143)2
after the seventh:
And all th'Aerial Audience/clap their Wings, (Spring, 16)
the third:
Offend her,/and she knows not to forgive;
Oblige her,/and she'll hate you while you live,
(Moral Essays, II, 137-138)
and especially often the second:
This Nymph,/to the Destruction of Mankind,
(Rape of the Lock, II, 19)
Ye Gods!/and is there no Relief for Love? (Summer, 88)
Even the pause after the ninth syllable is not unheard of:
Superiors?/deathI/and Equals?/what a curse!
But an Inferior not dependant?/worse, (Moral Essays, II, 135-136)
nor after the first:
But thou,/false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou,/mean deserter of thy brother's blood!
(Unfortunate Lady, 29-30)
1. Pope's letter on prosody exists in two versions, that to Henry Cromwell,
dated November 25, 1710 (Alexander Pope, Correspondence, ed. George Sher-
burn [Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1956], I, 105-108; referred to henceforth
as Sherburn), and that to William Walsh, dated October 22, 1706 (Sherburn, I,
22-25). The Walsh version is not known to exist before the authorized edition
of Pope's correspondence in 1735, and is almost surely spurious, an attempt by
Pope to attach his letter to a better-known figure and perhaps to support his
precocity. It differs somewhat from the Cromwell version, and I shall mention
it only when it adds something significant.
2. All quotations from Pope's poetry except the quotation from his Homer


Lines with more than one pause, such as Moral Essays, II, 135, just
quoted, are also frequent, and even lines containing no apparent
pause whatever do occur.3 Pope's practice varies widely from poem
to poem. Pauses after the fourth syllable, for example, occur in
slightly more than 50 per cent4 of the lines in Spring and at less
than half that rate in the second Moral Essay. Pauses in his three
orthodox positions occur in about 85 per cent of the lines in Spring
and in only about two-thirds of the lines in several of the late
poems. His early work shows a preference for caesuras in the first
half of the lines (over 90 per cent in Summer), and this decreases
more or less steadily to around 70 per cent in the late satires. The
sixth-place caesura is used for special purposes, in certain passages.5
But beyond mere caesural placement Pope's pauses vary widely
in degree and quality, for purposes of variety, devices of rhetoric,
and representative meter. Many instances will occur in the analy-
sis of individual poems.
Pope also objected in his letter on prosody to the same pause in
more than three successive lines, and while his practice generally
avoids this lack of desirable variety, there are exceptions. The
famous example near the beginning of Canto II of The Rape of the
Lock (11. 7-18), where every pause is after the fourth syllable, may
be for the sake of deliberate and obvious over-smoothness, which is
one of the techniques Pope uses constantly in The Rape of the
Lock; and, if so, this demonstrates what Pope's versification demon-
strates again and again: that he was willing to break his own rules,
or the rules of his age, for the sake of making the technique match
the sense. But other instances of more than three successive pauses
after the same syllable have no apparent excuse; and while some-
times the repetition is not noticeable, and hence not objectionable

are from the Twickenham ed., referred to henceforth as Tw. Quotations from
the Homer are from the Cambridge edition of The Complete Poetical Works of
Pope, ed. Henry W. Boynton (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1903). See also
n. 16, below.
3. Root (p. 40) gives as examples of no pause, Rape of the Lock, II, 55 and
4. Such figures in this study are based on prosodic analyses of the whole of
the Pastorals, Windsor-Forest, Messiah, Unfortunate Lady, Eloisa, Moral Essays,
I and II, Arbuthnot, the Epistle to Augustus (First Epistle of the Second Book
of Horace), and the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace; and of Rape of
the Lock, Canto II; E. on C., Part I (i.e., 11. 1-200); E. on M., Epistle I; The
Dunciad, Book I; and Dialogue I of the Epilogue to the Satires.
5. See p. 35, below.


(e.g., Spring, 11. 84-87),6 sometimes it is both:
To Phthia's realms/no hostile troops they led; 4
Safe in her vales/my warlike coursers fed; 4
Far hence remov'd,/the hoarse-resounding main, 4
And walls of rocks,/secure my native reign, 4
Whose fruitful soil/luxuriant harvests grace, 4
Rich in her fruits,/and in her martial race. 4
Hither we sail'd/a voluntary throng. 4
(Iliad, I, 201-207)7
Even here, however, the variation in caesural emphasis and in the
rhythm before the pause-three of the lines have initial trochees-
reduces the monotony; and Pope's practice often demonstrates that
what seems a reasonable rule even to our freedom-prejudiced gen-
eration may be broken successfully.
Regarding meter itself, Pope apparently took a more central stand
than in his statement about caesura, objecting in An Essay on Criti-
cism to both the critic and the poet who make a fetish of metrical
regularity; speaking favorably in the Epistle to Augustus of knowing
"What's long or short, each accent where to place" (1. 207), without
saying that the accent should be invariably alternate; and objecting
in the same poem (1. 271) to "splay-foot verse," though the context,
and particularly the praise of Dryden's "varying verse" (1. 268),
makes clear that the objection is to the extremities of metaphysical
license, and not to every violation of strict regularity.
About metrics-rather surprisingly-he was nowhere very specific.
In order, therefore, to establish a norm against which to examine
his actual practice, one must look at the majority opinion of his
day-recognizing that the variety of views about metrical matters
was far greater in the early and middle eighteenth century than
is usually recognized. The dicta which would have come nearest to
general acceptances are probably as follows:

6. Or Autumn, 8-13, which illustrates another of Pope's dicta (in the letter
to Walsh only), that the pause after the fifth syllable can be continued longer
without monotony.
7. Another example is Eloisa to Abelard, 45-49.
8. Based on works consulted, including such obvious sources as Dryden's
Essays, the Tatler and Spectator, the critical works of Johnson, Hugh Blair's
Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, 7th ed. (London, 1798), and Henry
Home, Lord Kames' Elements of Criticism (New York, 1852); and, among others,
Anselm Bayly, The Alliance of Music, Poetry, and Oratory (London, 1789);
James Beattie, "An Essay on Poetry and Music, as they affect the mind," in Es-
says (Edinburgh, 1778); Richard Bentley, Milton's Paradise Lost (London, 1732);


1. Use of the initial trochee is acceptable, as in Pope's

Lost in a convent's solitary gloom, (Eloisa, 38)9
but decidedly not the medial trochee, as in Pope's

The wheels above urg'd by the load below, (Dunciad, I, 184)
W Ir %. A W % .41 %
O'er head and ears plunge for the Commonweal,
(Dunciad, I, 210)
and emphatically not the final trochee, for which Milton was round-
ly condemned, and which Pope probably never used.
2. In general the spondee is acceptable, either with the pyrrhic,
as in Pope's

To the last honours of the Butt and Bays, (Dunciad, I, 168)

Edward Bysshe, The Art of English Poetry (4th ed., London, 1710); William
Coward, Licentia Poetica Discuss'd (London, 1709); Thomas Gray, "Observations
on English Meter," in Works, ed. Edmund Gosse (New York, 1885); Edward Man-
waring, Of Harmony and Numbers in Latin and English Prose and in English
Poetry (London, 1744); W. E. Mead, The Versification of Pope in its Relations to
the Seventeenth Century (Leipzig, 1889); Lord Monboddo, Of the Origin and
Progress of Language (Edinburgh, 1774); Henry Pemberton, Observations on
Poetry (London, 1738); "J.D.," Preface to Joshua Poole's The English Parnassus
S. Together with A short Institution to English Poesie, by way of Preface
(London, 1677); John Rice, An Introduction to the Art of Reading with Energy
and Propriety (London, 1765); Samuel Say, Poems on Several Occasions: and
Two Critical Essays (London, 1745); Daniel Webb, Observations on the Cor-
respondence between Poetry and Music (London, 1769) and Remarks on the
Beauties of Poetry (London, 1762); Samuel Wesley, An Epistle to a Friend con-
cerning Poetry (London, 1700); and, of course, Paul Fussell, Jr., Theory of
Prosody in Eighteenth-Century England, Connecticut College Monograph no. 5
(New London, 1954).
9. I am aware, of course, that some twentieth-century prosodists, and par-
ticularly linguists, would handle scansion and other prosodic matters some-
what differently. But I am dealing with prosodic technique as the eighteenth
century understood it-in other words with traditional prosody. I would in
any case agree with John Crowe Ransom in his contribution to the famous series
of articles on prosody in the Kenyon Review ("The Strange Music of English
Verse," XVIII [Summer, 1956], 451-460), that the poets in the anthologies are
traditional prosodists. And I would agree with Ronald Sutherland in his com-
ment on the same series of articles ("Structural Linguistics and English
Prosody," College English, XX [Oct., 19581, 12-17), that the Brooks and
Warren analyses in Understanding Poetry are "striking evidence that the old
system works," that while some modifications are useful they will increase
efficiency rather than revise conclusions, and that extremely subtle methods of
scansion can apply only to individually recorded readings, not to a "universally
meaningful" analysis.


or without, as in Pope's

Of twelve vast French Romances, neatly gilt.
(Rape of the Lock, II, 38)
3. Feet which would be trisyllabic if pronounced in full are ac-
ceptable only if they are capable of reduction to dissyllables by
elision.10 This elision could be of three types: either the dropping
of a vowel before a liquid or nasal (syncope), as in Pope's
Explores the lost, the wand'ring Sheep directs; (Messiah, 51)
or the joining together of two vowels in one sound synaeresiss), as
in Pope's
Asleep and naked as an Indian lay, (Moral Essays, III, 361)
sometimes in a fashion very difficult to elide:
Kind, virtuous drops just gathering in my eye; (Eloisa, 278)
or the dropping of a final vowel before an initial vowel apocopee),
in Pope limited almost entirely to the and (less frequently) to, as in
Yet never pass th'insuperable line, (E. on M., I, 228)
A work t'outlast Immortal Rome designed. (E. on C., 131)
4. Light feet-that is, feet where there must be a metrical accent
though there would be little or no prose accent-are acceptable, as
in Pope's
The various Off'rings of the World appear.
(Rape of the Lock, I, 130)
As in this case, such a foot in Pope is likely to occur near the middle
of the line, and is particularly likely to be split by the pause, so
that the "broken light third foot" occurs with sufficient frequency
in Pope as to approach the status of a mannerism," though it is
a probable phenomenon in heroic couplets generally.12

10. But lines like the following from Dryden,
Drown'd in th'abyss of deep idolatry (Hind and the Panther, II, 633)
where actual voiced elision is unavoidable because the trisyllable occurs after
a trochee, are rare in Pope, if they exist at all, and are rare in good eighteenth-
century poetry generally.
11. See Root, p. 41.
12. Pope also objects in his letter on prosody to the Alexandrine, but it is
of comparatively little significance in his verse, appearing with noticeable fre-
quency only in the Homer. See Adler, "Pope and the Rules of Prosody," pp.
222-223; also Tillotson, pp. 105-112.


Pope's practice regarding strictly metrical matters varied con-
siderably from poem to poem. The initial trochee, for example,
occurs in fewer than one line in ten in Winter, in more than one
in four in the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, with the
later poems using them more frequently, in a very irregular pro-
gression. Elision by apocope occurs more frequently in more formal
poems. Pope seldom employed medial trochees, but he certainly
did not avoid them altogether, and apparently felt free to use
them for "representative" purposes; and lines occasionally occur
where no more than two feet13 are iambic, or where the iambic is
obscured by the complications of elisions:
And the fleet Shades glide o'er the dusky Green, (Autumn, 64)
Glance on the stone where our cold reliques lie, (Eloisa, 356)
Some emanation of th'all-beauteous mind. (Eloisa. 62)
In the last instance, the necessity of reading the third and fourth
feet as either a light foot plus an iamb or as a pyrrhic plus a spondee
adds to the difficulty. Such instances are, of course, exceptional.
Among the more acceptable variants from pure iambic monotony,
Pope felt completely at home; and his use of them was full, fre-
quent, and various.
Two other elements of verse technique loosely related to metrics
are, first, the couplet as a unit of thought, and of grammar, as op-
posed to the open series of lines, tending toward the freedom of
blank verse, with rime less functional and more incidental; and,
second, the matter of end-stopped as opposed to run-on lines within
the couplet itself. The tendency in Pope's day was certainly toward
maintaining the integrity of both line and couplet, though the
variety of opinion was again wider than is usually remembered.
Pope apparently made no mention of the subject; and Lord Kames'
later view of it probably comes as close as any to Pope's actual
practice: "there ought always to be some pause in the sense at the
end of every couplet; the same period as to sense may be extended
through several couplets; but each couplet ought to contain a dis-
tinct member, distinguished by a pause in the sense as well as in
the sound; and the whole ought to be closed with a complete ca-
dence."'14 Lord Kames adds elsewhere that this pause may be no

13. Or even one. See p. 32, below.
14. Kames, p. 316.


more than that of a comma.15 These requirements may be illus-
trated by hundreds of passages from Pope; for instance, the famous
"poor Indian" passage, An Essay on Man, I, 99-108. And Lord
Kames correctly found that Pope seldom transgressed this not very
rigid rule. Instances do occur, however, such as a well-known
passage from the Messiah:
No more the rising sun shall gild the Morn,
Nor Evening Cynthia fill her silver Horn,
But lost, dissolved in thy superior Rays;
One Tyde of Glory, one unclouded Blaze,
O'erflow thy Courts. (99-103)16
Here the unusual overflow of couplet "represents" the meaning.
Other instances, however, are without such a purpose, for example:
Descends Minerva, in her guardian care,
A heav'nly witness of the wrongs I bear
From Atreus' son? (Iliad, I, 269-271)17
Within the couplet structure itself, a certain degree of run-on is
common in Pope; and run-on beyond the possibility of even the
slightest pause is less frequent but not really rare. All degrees
occur; from complete end-stopping in such a couplet as
Know, Nature's children all divide her care;
The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear,
(E. on M., III, 43-44)
to the almost equally complete pause, in spite of a mere comma,
in a couplet where the second line is dependent on the first:
Back to their caves she bade the winds to fly,
And hush'd the blust'ring Brethren of the Sky,
(Odyssey, V, 490-491)
to the slightly lesser pause in a couplet where the first line is de-
pendent on the second:
Tho' cold like you, unmov'd, and silent grown,
I have not yet forgot my self to stone; (Eloisa, 23-24)
15. Kames, p. 306.
16. Tw. regularly uses the punctuation of the 1st ed. of each poem. In this
case (the semicolon in 1. 100), and in many others, some of which will be noted,
this punctuation obscures the metrical pattern and may even be impossible
grammatically. I have followed the Tw. punctuation and initial capitalization;
but I have omitted the Tw. italics, since I shall want to italicize parts of
quotations (and occasionally capitalize whole words) for my own purposes.
17. See also p. 36, below.


to a couplet where a pause seems possible even though the sense
runs on uninterrupted:
Relentless walls! whose darksom round contains
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains, (Eloisa, 17-18)
to such completely run-on lines as
On some, a Priest succinct in amice white
Attends; all flesh is nothing in his sight! (Dunciad, IV, 549-550)
On shining Altars of Japan they raise
The silver Lamp; the fiery Spirits blaze,
(Rape of the Lock, III, 107-108)
or even
From great Assaracus sprung Capys, he
Begat Anchises, and Anchises me. (Iliad, XX, 288-289)
To turn from those elements of prosodic technique concerned
with metrics to those concerned with words as words, is to turn
from a group with fairly definite boundaries to a miscellany with
no clearly definable limits whatever. While rhetorical devices, for
example, were certainly considered a part of poetry by the Augus-
tans, and indeed as a part having to do with "style," they are not
usually considered an element of versification. Yet it is not only
true that the couplet encourages certain rhetorical methods such as
antithesis, but it is also true that the use of certain such methods
adds a tone and texture which is as much a part of sound as of sense.
Pope himself mentions techniques regarding words, and it is
clear that to him they concern versification. In both his letter on
prosody and An Essay on Criticism he objected to the use of verbal
expletives to fill out the pentameter line. Such practice was fre-
quent in the Restoration, but fell largely out of use in the new
century. Verbal expletives are extremely rare in Pope.18 On the
other hand, Pope has been accused by Saintsbury and others of
using superfluous adjectives to fill out lines. Such a charge is
occasionally justified, especially in his earlier work.19 Yet the effect

18. But they were not excised from the early poems till the 1717 ed. See
Tw., I, 199, and Tillotson, pp. 121-123. See also Tillotson, pp. 91-92, for an
example of a purposeful verbal expletive in the Epistle to Augustus.
19. See p. 39, below. Pope himself objected to superfluous epithets in The
Art of Sinking in Poetry, but praised the use of epithets for heightening style
in the Postscript to Odyssey.


of this failing in Pope's versification as a whole is very small. To
be noticeable, and therefore objectionable, epithets must be both
frequent and either maladroit or unnecessary. Saintsbury finds the
epithets in The Rape of the Lock frequent, as they undeniably are;
but they are nearly always remarkably apt, and their somewhat
obvious effect, their patness, seems both intended and effective. The
use of the obvious and overfluent is one of the principal methods
in The Rape of the Lock, displayed through numerous effects with
delightful results.
In his letter on prosody, Pope remarks that "monosyllable lines,
unless very artfully managed, are stiff, languishing, and hard,"
adding in the letter to Walsh that they "may be beautiful to express
melancholy, slowness, or labour." And in An Essay on Criticism
he makes the same objection by exemplifying it:
And ten low Words oft creep in one dull Line. (347)
No one needs to be told that when it came to such effects Pope was a
wickedly clever technician; and here he succeeds as usual in weight-
ing the scale in favor of his argument. Eight of the ten words
receive almost equal emphasis, and there is practically no grouping:
two circumstances not quite ordinary in monosyllabic lines, where
distinct groupings usually occur in unequal arrangements, and
the words have quite unequal emphasis-more unequal than the
varieties of print can show:
(Odyssey, V, 496)
(E. on M., I, 139)
It is doubtful that anyone would remark the monosyllabic quality
of such lines as these in ordinary reading.
By the time of the revised letter on prosody Pope apparently felt
that monosyllabic lines could express an andante movement suc-
cessfully. And so they can. There is an instance in the Messiah:
And the same Hand that sow'd, shall reap the Field, (66)
a slow line, and mildly expressive of "labour." An attempt to ex-
press even the absence of motion is found in a line from Eloisa,
the quietly lovely
Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow; (253) "


while the same poem offers several monosyllabic lines with "melan-
choly" effect.
Yet instances of such effects are not easy to find; and they illus-
trate rather the patent fact that a line of slow or solemn import
may be sounded slowly with greater ease if it consists of mono-
syllables, than that the monosyllables enforce a slow reading. In
other words, the sense dominates the sound; and it is more possible,
when the sense demands it, to linger over a monosyllable than over
an unaccented syllable of a longer word. It is true that spondees
are slow, and that most spondees consist of monosyllables; hence
the inherent slowness of a line from Eloisa to Abelard which is
beautifully representative of stillness even though it contains a
Thy life a long, dead calm of fix'd repose. (251)
Also, monosyllables may cause a huddling together of consonants,
and the resulting difficulty in pronunciation will enforce slowness,
as in the famous "Ajax" line-not entirely monosyllabic-or as in
the last of the accurately contrasted halves of this line from The
Intoxicates the pert, and lulls the grave. (II, 344)
In the last two examples, still a third element enters into the
lingering quality: the long vowels. And all three-spondees, diffi-
cult consonants, long vowels-conspire to make the following line
from An Essay on Man slow:
S'Till tir'd he sleeps, and Life's poor play is o'er. (II, 282)
But another line from An Essay on Man should quickly dispel any
illusion that the slowness of a monosyllabic line is inevitable:
Ask where's the North? at York, 'tis on the Tweed. (II, 222)
Indeed, swift or merely neutral monosyllabic lines are far more
plentiful in Pope than slow-and monosyllabic lines are plentiful,
ranging from 1 per cent of the lines in some of the early pastorals
to 8 per cent in Eloisa and Arbuthnot. They often provide a
welcome simplicity:
To read and weep is all they now can do, (Eloisa, 48)
Thus wilt thou leave me, are we thus to part? (Odyssey, V, 260)
But the word order and word choice play a significant part in this



effect, and lines not entirely composed of monosyllables can be
equally simple:
I waste the Matin lamp in sighs for thee, (Eloisa, 267)
He has a father too; a man like me. (Iliad, XXII, 536)
Monosyllabic lines may also be used for a sense of the solemn and
Ev'n by that God I swear, who rules the day, (Iliad, I, 109)20
Fix'd is the term to all the race of earth. (Iliad, VI, 628)
And while in this case too one dissyllable may appear:
His are the laws, and him let all obey, (Iliad, II, 244)
there is a manifest difference between this sort of line and the more
aphoristic, even somewhat glib sort for which Pope has remained
best known:
For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread, (E. on C., 625)
The proper study of Mankind is Man. (E. on M., II, 2)
But perhaps the most interesting, if rare, use of the monosyllabic
line as a special type is to display a controlled anger:
Glad of a quarrel, strait I clap the door,
Sir, let me see your works and you no more. (Arbuthnot, 67-69) <
Here the separateness of each word aids in conveying a kind of
slow, contemptuous fury which the intrusion of even a dissyllable
would spoil.
In general, however, Pope's monosyllabic lines are not noticeably
different from his other lines, though they doubtless contribute to
an effect of the easy and (when appropriate) the conversational. V
In both versions of his letter on prosody, Pope modified his state-
ment with the phrase "unless very artfully managed." There is
every reason to believe that he thought himself capable of a man-
agement thoroughly artful.21

20. In this study I have considered words on the pattern of even and
heaven as monosyllables, because Pope and other eighteenth-century poets freely
use them as rimes in poems where no feminine rimes appear unless they them-
selves be considered so; and because they seem never to be used as dissyllables
to occupy a foot. For similar reasons, and because they are used to rime with
pure monosyllables, I have considered words on the pattern of prayer and
flower as invariably monosyllabic.
21. It is generally true in Pope that more monosyllables occur in poems
involving conversation and in poems of lower style. Thus Eloisa to Abelard
has 6.32 monosyllables per line; the First Satire of the Second Book, 6.33; the


Pope's objection to monosyllabic lines represents one aspect of
the eighteenth-century fear of the low, which also expresses itself
in use of rhetorical devices, foreign constructions, and "poetic
diction." Pope's views in this area are rather liberal. In the
Postscript to the Odyssey he declares himself opposed to artificial
word order, "sudden abruptnesses," "frequent turnings and transpo-
sitions"; he objects to the extreme imitations of Milton's style; and
it is easy to illustrate out of the Postscript, The Art of Sinking in
Poetry, and Spence's Anecdotes his belief that any one style grows
monotonous, and that the style must be varied-high style, middle
style, low style-to suit the material.
Nevertheless, Pope uses rhetorical devices constantly. In his
works, those devices which occur frequently and generally, and
which have an actual, palpable effect upon versification,22 include
exclamation, apostrophe, interrogation, and rhetorical repetition
and antithesis. So far as sound effect is concerned, apostrophe,
usually exclamatory, may be considered a part of exclamation. The
quality of utterance which the two demand is manifestly different
from that of simple statement; and the same may be said for in-
terrogation. The three can be illustrated in a single couplet:
Come Abelard! for what hast thou to dread?
The torch of Venus burns not for the dead. (Eloisa, 257-258)
The contrast is plain; and if interrogation, for instance,23 occurs

Epistle to Arbuthnot, 6.37. Compare Windsor-Forest with 5.63; Messiah, 5.64;
An Essay on Criticism, 5.70; The Dunciad, 5.71; The Rape of the Lock, 5.92;
An Essay on Man, 6.00.
Pope used polysyllables (i.e., words of four syllables or more, not reducible
to less than four by elision) surprisingly little. The highest count is in Moral
Essays, I, with occurrence in 7 per cent of the lines. The comparatively high
rate in Eloisa and E. on M. (both 5 per cent) is explainable on the basis of
Eloisa's learning (and her repetition of her polysyllabic name) and the nature
of the material in the Essay; the figure of only 1 per cent for the four Pastorals
accords with their "simple" speakers. Polysyllables in Pope occur generally in
between 2 per cent and 3 per cent of the lines.
22. Other than inversion for which see below, pp. 21-22. For rhetorical repe-
tition of sound, see below, p. 29. Other rhetorical devices which are especially
characteristic of particular poems, such as parenthesis and anticlimax in The
Rape of the Lock, are examined in the treatment of such poems later in this
23. Questions come many times in pairs:
Is this a dinner? this a Genial room? (Moral Essays, IV, 155)



frequently throughout a poem, the tone of the poem must be
Exclamation and interrogation may also affect both the quality
and the placement of the caesura:
Without it, proud Versailles! thy glory falls,
(Moral Essays, IV, 71)
A Quaker? sly: A Presbyterian? sow'r, (Moral Essays, I, 108)
Think we all these are for himself? no more
Than his fine Wife, alas! or finer Whore.
(Moral Essays, IV, 11-12)
In some of the serious poems-Messiah, for instance-exclamation
seems excessive, as if Pope were attempting to substitute for
emotion instead of support it; and the tone becomes consequently
a little shrill. In fact all three devices-exclamation, interrogation,
apostrophe-are best where Pope himself is best: in satire.
Rhetorical repetition is of the very fabric of neoclassic verse. A
complete analysis of it in Pope would be a book in itself, and one
is confronted with the problem of a reasonable yet adequate limi-
tation. In this study the special devices of repetition referred to
regularly by name will be confined to four; not because they are
the only four which affect the prosody, but because they are the
only four (other than simple parallelism and word repetition)
which seem both sufficiently characteristic of Pope and sufficiently
distinctive in pattern to be noticed throughout Pope's work by
the careful nonprofessional reader. The four are: zeugma, anaph-
ora, chiasmus, and (somewhat separate from the others) antithesis.24
The term zeugma is used in this study for any instance of one
word serving several words, phrases, or clauses,25 whether the usage
is normal:

And is this present, swineherdl of thy hand?
Bring'st thou these vagrants to infest the land? (Odyssey, XVII, 450-451)
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon' altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell? (Eloisa, 107-110)
24. More detailed treatments of rhetorical devices in Pope are to be found
elsewhere, e.g., Wimsatt's treatment in The Verbal Icon of chiasmus (pp. 162-
163) and zeugma (pp. 177-179).
25. This is substantially the first definition in N.E.D.

By Day o'ersees them, and by Night protects, (Messiah, 52)
or (as in a more limited definition of zeugma) incongruous:
Dost sometimes Counsel take-and sometimes Tea,
(Rape of the Lock, III, 8)
Or lose her Heart, or Necklace, at a Ball.
(Rape of the Lock, II, 109)
And it is used whether the word which occurs but once appears in
the first phrase or clause (as them, take, and lose in the examples
just quoted), or in the last:
In Spring the Fields, in Autumn Hills I love. (Spring, 77)
Except for the relatively scarce cases of comic incongruity, such
usages-they are innumerable in Pope-develop, manifestly, out of
the twin desires for balance and condensation.
At times, as in the examples just given from the Messiah and
Spring, zeugma is likely to be somewhat awkward. Such instances
grow rarer in Pope's later career, but never wholly disappear; and
even though the zeugma becomes smoother, it is still sometimes
undesirably apparent:
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call, (E. on M., II, 55)
Manners with Fortunes, Humours turn with Climes.
(Moral Essays, I, 166)
Sometimes, on the other hand, the usage is so natural that it goes
completely unnoticed; and it must be remembered that, like the
inevitable M. Jourdain and his prose, we all use zeugma without
knowing it:
One dy'd in Metaphor, and one in Song,
(Rape of the Lock, V, 60)
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory.
(First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, 68)
Sometimes the device has even a special felicity:
And now a bubble burst, and now a world. (E. on M., I, 90)
But (except, once more, for the instances of incongruity) as a rule
only an awkward use of zeugma is sufficiently noticeable to be con-
sidered an element of versification separate from the more general
parallelism and balance.
Chiasmus is used in this study to refer to any balance in which



the elements of the two halves are mirror, rather than identical,
images. Thus in this couplet from An Essay on Man the two
halves of the second line have the same grammatical order and are
hence an example of simple balance (ab ab), not chiasmus:
Two Principles in human nature reign:
Self-love, to urge, and Reason, to restrain. (II, 53-54)
But in this line from Windsor-Forest, the order of grammatical
elements in the first part is reversed in the second: and this is
Her Weapons blunted, and extinct her Fires. (418)
This special kind of balance (ab ba) is quite common in Pope.
The method occurs in considerable variety:
Sylvia's like Autumn ripe, yet mild as May, (Spring, 81)
Directs in council, and in war presides, (Iliad, II, 28)
His time a moment, and a point his space, (E. on M., I, 72)
The fewer still you name, you wound the more.
(First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, 43)
As related to versification, chiasmus in Pope appears to have two
purposes: to provide a suitable rime word (though sometimes, as
in Windsor-Forest, 418, quoted in the preceding paragraph, the
first half-line could be reversed to parallel the second, without
disturbing sense or meter, so that the simple balance would provide
the same rime), and to gain variety in balance. Also, as with in-
version (treated below), chiasmus can emphasize a particular word,
or give rime a particularly fine effect. And like zeugma it is es-
pecially noticeable when it is awkward.
Anaphora is used in this study to refer to the repetition of a
word or words at the beginning of successive, or nearly successive,
hemistichs, lines, or couplets. (Pope's other varieties of word repe-
tition are too heterogeneous for useful classification.) Anaphora
stands up better than zeugma or chiasmus as a special contribution
to verse texture. The repetition of exactly the same word or words
in parallel positions means a repetition in sound and either a
repetition or a conscious contrast in pitch; and frequent occurrence
of such repetitions affects the tone as greatly as repeated exclama-
tion or interrogation. Anaphora by hemistich occurs in
Now warm in love, now with'ring in thy bloom. (Eloisa, 37)
By line it occurs in



As thick as bees o'er vernal blossoms fly,
As thick as eggs at Ward in Pillory. (Dunciad, III, 33-34)
And by couplet it occurs in
For her th'unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of Seraphs shed divine perfumes;
For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring. (Eloisa, 217-219)
It may also be used, though much more rarely, in joining the last
line of a couplet to the first of the next:
Which never more shall join its parted Hair,
Which never more its Honours shall renew.
(Rape of the Lock, IV, 134-135)
Occasionally too, as in passages in The Rape of the Lock, it may
occur through a whole series of lines; but this use is plainly arti-
ficial (in The Rape of the Lock, purposely so); and, as in many of
the examples just given, anaphora is more usually an integral part
of the thought structure than either zeugma or chiasmus.26
Antithesis occurs frequently through all the poems, and has a
decided effect upon the tone, since the contrast involves change in
pitch, and since antithesis tends to strong caesura and to the neat-
ness of epigram:
To cure thy Lambs, but not to heal thy Heart, (Summer, 34)
And she who scorns a Man, must die a Maid,
(Rape of the Lock, V, 28)
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err, (E. on M., II, 10)
Men not afraid of God, afraid of me.
(Epilogue to the Satires, II, 209)
Beyond zeugma, chiasmus, anaphora, and antithesis, there are
numberless examples in Pope of the balancing of phrase with
phrase, clause with clause, hemistich with hemistich, line with
line, couplet with couplet;27 and artful repetition of word or of
word arrangement in a never-ending variety:

26. Examples of especially fine integration:
Restore the Lockl she cries; and all around
Restore the Lock! the vaulted Roofs rebound, (Rape of the Lock, V, 103-104)
So short a space the light of Heav'n to viewl
So short a space and fill'd with sorrow too! (Iliad, I, 544-545)
27. Tillotson treats (pp. 124-130) varieties of balance, especially in connec-
tion with variations in the length of balancing elements, and parallels or con-
trasts of sense and form in the balance.



And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong,
(E. on C., 338)
Bright as the Sun, her Eyes and Gazers strike,
And, like the Sun, they shine on all alike,
(Rape of the Lock, II, 13-14)
The world forgetting, by the world forgot, (Eloisa, 208)
This, all who know me, know; who love me, tell,
(First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, 138)
And Noise and Norton, Brangling and Breval,
Dennis and Dissonance, (Dunciad, II, 238-239)
It fled, I followed; now in hope, now pain;
It stopt, I stopt; it mov'd, I mov'd again.
(Dunciad, IV, 427-428)
As almost any page of Pope will show, these many devices and
methods and turns are combined, intermingled, knotted, loosed, and
resolved, again and again and again. The effect on versification
is very great. Any method involving balance usually at least tends
toward metrical regularity, central caesura, and integrity of line and
couplet; or if it cuts across this normality, then that itself is a
notable effect. On the other hand, too frequent use of the same
rhetorical device can, and in some of Pope's poems does, have an
adverse effect upon tone. At times too, the awkwardness-or con-
versely the very brilliance-directs the attention away from meaning,
where Pope would have been the first to say it belonged. But the
subtlety and flexibility of Pope's rhetoric increased with the years;
its effect upon meter grew less confining, its support of the sense
more firm.
Inversion is used by Pope, and by neoclassic poets generally, for
at least three purposes, the first two of which are essentially rhe-
torical: to heighten style; to emphasize a particular word; and to
provide rime. These three types are often almost impossible to
separate with certainty. Even the existence of inversion is not
always definite. Prepositional phrases particularly range rather
widely over a sentence without sounding unnatural. Nevertheless,
there is much unmistakable inversion in Pope. Sometimes it is
clearly for emphasis:
If Hampton-Court these Eyes had never seen,
(Rape of the Lock, IV, 150)
Not twice a twelvemonth you appear in Print;
(Epilogue to the Satires, I, 1)


and it can be undeniably so in instances where inversion does not
affect rime or meter:
Not on the Cross my eyes were fix'd, but you, (Eloisa, 116)
Sometimes, on the other hand, it is merely for rime:
Arise, the Pines a noxious Shade diffuse. (Winter, 86)
Yet, in accordance with his views in the Postscript to the Odyssey,
Pope's inversions are seldom violent; nor are they so frequent as
might be supposed. And they grow consistently fewer, especially in
the colloquial satires, with their many passages of such completely
normal English idiom as this from the First Satire of the Second
Book of Horace:
F. I'd write no more. P. Not write? but then I think,
And for my Soul I cannot sleep a wink.
I nod in Company, I wake at Night,
Fools rush into my Head, and so I write.
F. You could not do a worse thing for your Life.
Why, if the Nights seem tedious-take a Wife;
Or rather, truly, if your Point be Rest,
Lettuce and Cowslip Wine; Probatum est.
But talk with Celsus, Celsus will advise
Hartshorn, or something that shall close your Eyes.
Or if you needs must write, write Caesar's Praise:
You'll gain at least a Knighthood, or the Bays. (11-22)
Even the earlier and the more formal poems have occasional long
passages like this one, with not a word out of normal prose order
(e.g., Eloisa, 11. 249-262; Essay on Man, II, 129-144); but they are
less likely to be noticed, because less colloquial.
Furthermore, the greatest number by far of Pope's inversions
occur in only one line of a couplet, the other line being in normal
order; and when the inverted line is the first one-as again is true
in most cases-the effect is often to make the rime seem especially
neat, giving a turn quite characteristic of Pope.
But we, brave Britons, Foreign Laws despis'd,
And kept unconquer'd, and unciviliz'd, (E. on C., 716)
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind, (Eloisa, 247-248)
That not in Fancy's Maze he wander'd long,
But stoop'd to Truth, and moraliz'd his song,
(Arbuthnot, 340-341)



Blockheads with reason wicked wits abhor,
But fool with fool a barb'rous civil war.
(Dunciad, III, 175-176)
Pope's use of inversion, then, affects his versification mainly in
three ways: first, more inversion is likely to make the tone more
formal; second, it has an effect upon tone when important words
are given important position; third, by its appearance in the first
line of a couplet only, it may add aptness and point to the rime
with which the couplet closes.
While foreign words and syntax were an accepted method of
heightening style in Pope's day, Pope's well-known Latin and
French usages are more often one of his methods of gaining suc-
cinctness. Three such usages appear fairly often in Pope's verse,
and have become somewhat symbolic of foreign diction both in
Pope and in neoclassic verse generally. The first of these is the use
of this and that for the former and the latter (as they are, of course,
regularly used in French):
This mourn'd a faithless, that an absent Love, (Autumn, 3)
While these they undermine, and those they rend.
(Iliad, XII, 306)
The second is the use, as in Latin and French, of or for either and
nor for neither:
Not one, or male or female, stay'd behind, (Odyssey, IX, 398)
Nor other home nor other care intends. (Odyssey, IX, 109)
The third is the suppression of the pronoun following there are
before a clause beginning with who, whom, or whose:
There are, who to my Person pay their court, (Arbuthnot, 115)
There are to whom my Satire seems too bold,
(First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, 2)
I know there are, to whose presumptuous Thoughts
Those Freer Beauties, ev'n in Them, seem Faults.
(E. on C., 169-170)
In all these un-English usages, the result is condensation-at a
minimum, the reduction of a syllable. Otherwise, the effect upon
versification is neutral, unless by awkwardness, obscurity, or re-
appearance to the point of mannerism, such a usage draws atten-
tion to itself and away from meaning. And in any case, most of
Pope's diction and syntax are native.



The problems of rime in connection with heroic couplets may be
broken down for convenience into four divisions: (1) inaccurate
rimes, unstressed rimes, identities; (2) feminine and triple rimes;
(3) rime repetition and rime cliches; and (4) violation of normal
word order, syntax, or grammar for the sake of rime. Of these, the
last has already been examined, and the second may be quickly
disposed of. Feminine rimes were unpopular in the eighteenth
century, except for the low genres, such as satire. And Pope used
such rimes rarely except in his satirical poems, where they appear
fairly frequently. Triple rimes were almost unheard of, and do
not occur in Pope's verse.
Pope apparently never mentioned the subject of accurate riming;
and considering how significant riming is in a tradition of heroic
couplets, the subject comes up surprisingly seldom in critical writing
generally. Inaccurate rimes are all too frequent in Pope,28 probably
more frequent than in any other important egihteenth-century poets
of the heroic couplet tradition; just how frequent is difficult to
know, since pronunciations have changed. But clues exist, for ex-
ample, the fact that the offending word in what seems to us an in-
accurate rime is rimed elsewhere in a way which seems to us
correct; the fact that some poems, for example Eloisa to Abelard,
have more rimes which seem inaccurate than other poems;29 and
of course such knowledge as we have of actual pronunciation shifts,
as in the cases of join and tea. Such evidence confirms the impres-
sion that Pope was by no means so careful about accurate riming
as one might have expected. Even discounting the almost unavoid-
able inaccuracies with words like love, God (which Swift never-

28. This discussion of riming might be considered a development of George
Sherburn's remarks in The Best of Pope, rev. ed. (New York, The Ronald Press
Co., 1940), p. xxxi: "In rhyme Pope is much less an artist . Both justness
and variety are frequently lacking in his rhymes. He repeats the same rhymes
too closely; and even allowing for changes in pronunciation since his day ...
he is too often careless and inexact in his sound identities. It follows that for
Pope rhyme is a habit rather than an excellence." But see p. 26, below.
29. Rimes probably inaccurate, not including identities or rimes on syllables
not normally bearing a primary accent, occur as follows: Spring, 12 per cent
of the rimes; Windsor-Forest, 10 per cent; E. on C., 10 per cent; Messiah, 9
per cent; Eloisa, 12 per cent; Unfortunate Lady, 5 per cent; Rape of the Lock,
8 per cent; E. on M., 13 per cent; Moral Essays, I, 8 per cent; Moral Essays, II,
9 per cent; Arbuthnot, 6 per cent; First Satire of the Second Book, 3 per cent;
Augustus, 8 per cent; Epilogue, 7 per cent; Dunciad, 4 per cent.



theless objected to as over-frequent and inaccurate),30 and heaven,
the number seems large. And Pope's other varieties of carelessness
regarding rime are not reassuring. One can find for example,
Well might I wish, could mortal wish renew
That strength which once in boiling youth I knew,
(Iliad, IV, 370-371)
an identity with a lightly-accented syllable:
Unfinish'd Things, one knows not what to call,
Their Generation's so equivocal, (E. on C., 42-43)
and even an unquestionably inaccurate identity:
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.
(E. on M., I, 93-94)31
Rimes on unstressed syllables can be noticeable to the point of
So shall each hostile name become our own,
And we too boast our Garth and Addison, (Dunciad, II, 139-140)
In Puns, or Politicks, or Tales, or Lyes,
Or Spite, or Smut, or Rymes, or Blasphemies.
(Arbuthnot, 321-322)
The immediate succession of very similar rimes can be annoying,
and is rather frequent:
Some have at first for Wits, then Poets ast,
urn'd Criticks next, and prov'd plain Fools at last;
Some neither can for Wits nor Criticks pass,
As heavy Mules are neither Horse nor Ass, (E. on C., 36-39)
ow Lakes of liquid Gold, Elysian Scenes,
And Crystal Domes, and Angels in Machines.
Unnumber'd Throngs on ev'ry side are seen
Of Bodies changed to various Forms by Spleen,
(Rape of the Lock, IV, 45-48)
and, worse still: -
This way and that the spreading torrent roars;
So sweeps the hero thro' the wasted shores.
Around him wide immense destruction pours, I

30. Letter to Pope, June 28, 1715 (Sherburn, I, 309).
31. Another example is in Moral Essays, I, 110-111.

And earth is deluged with the sanguine showers.
As with autumnal harvests cover'd o'er,
And thick bestrown, lies Ceres' sacred floor. (Iliad, XX, 573-578)
Moreover, Pope mentions two faults in the use of rime, and he
is guilty of both. First, in his letter on prosody he observes that
rime sounds should not be repeated within four to six lines. Second,
in An Essay on Criticism he makes fun, in a famous passage, of
hackneyed rimes. Avoiding almost immediate repetition of the
same rime sound ought to be fairly easy and certainly seems desir-
able; yet it would be difficult to find among his poems one in
which Pope is not guilty of such repetition. Even in the earlier
poems, when the rule might have been fresh in his mind, Pope re-
peats his rime sounds; Autumn has even the same actual rimes
separated by only a single couplet: move, love (83-84), remove,
love (87-88), as does, among others,32 Eloisa: away, day (221-222),
day, away (225-226); and examples of immediate repetition of the
rime sound are innumerable. Hackneyed rimes, on the other hand,
are harder to avoid. In so overwhelming a number of heroic
couplets, it was inevitable that certain rimes should have become
commonplace-the God, abode combination which Swift mentions,
for example. There is little to rime with death but breath; but,
given that deplorable fact about the English language, it would per-
haps be wise to allow death to turn up as a rime world only very ex-
ceptionally. The number of rime combinations which occur too fre-
quently in Pope's poems are far too many.
Yet, as W. K. Wimsatt has pointed out,33 Pope is capable of
consummate artistry in riming, giving his rimes all the desirable
qualities of accuracy, variety, inevitability, unexpectedness, and
rhetorical point. Many of Pope's most famous couplets-most of
the aphorisms in An Essay on Criticism, for example-are cases in
point. But other couplets from An Essay on Criticism may demon-
strate more clearly, precisely because they are less familiar:
What woful stuff this Madrigal wou'd be,
In some starv'd Hackny Sonneteer, or me?
But let a Lord once own the happy Lines,
How the Wit brightens! How the Style refinesl (418-421)
So much they scorn the Crowd, that if the Throng
By Chance go right, they purposely go wrong. (426-427)

32. E.g., Epistle to Augustus, 191-192; 195-196.
33. See n. 2, Introduction, above; also p. 19, above.


The wonder is that, given such superb skill, he should have allowed
himself to be so careless.34
Alliteration, assonance, and other repetition of sounds are among
Pope's most frequent and characteristic devices. The variety of
uses and the amount of use vary widely from poem to poem to
such an extent that discussion of them is best postponed to the
examination of those poems-especially Eloisa to Abelard, Epistle
to Arbuthnot, The Dunciad-where such devices are very important.
We come finally to that chameleon of eighteenth-century prosody,
representative meter. Depending upon the critic, or the poet, or
the reader, it may involve any element of versification-meter,
caesura, word usage, alliteration, and so on-and it may "represent"
anything from the most obvious noises to the most complex emo-
tions, and such unrelated phenomena as bulk and temperature. The
basic, bare minimum consists of onomatopoetic words, like buzz,
purr, gurgle; but by "representative meter" Pope clearly means far
more than this.35 And even this minimum has no positive limit,

34. In his letter to Walsh, Pope objected to triplets. They are rare in his
work, and what is said in n. 12, above, on Alexandrines, applies here as well.
35. Modern linguists would approach this whole question somewhat differ-
ently, being likely to consider any effects not clearly and strictly onomatopoetic
(i.e., imitative of sound) to be at least partially subjective, or morphemic, or
something in between. Leonard Bloomfield, for example, calls such phonemic
sequences as the fl of flip, flop, flutter, the sn of snore, sniff, snort, or the
ounce of bounce, jounce, pounce, morphemic (Language [New York, Henry
Holt and Co., 1933], pp. 242-246). Charles F. Hockett refers to reactions to
such sounds as "secondary associations" (and thus apparently subjective reac-
tions to accidental similarities); that is, "the phonemic shape of [a] word sets
up reverberations by its acoustic similarity to some other words," especially if
the other words have a similar meaning. Thus if we set up a new word sugg
to mean beauty it would seem inappropriate because "its secondary associations
with words like plug, mug, jug, ugly, tug, sag, suck are too great" (A Course in
Modern Linguistics, pp. 297-298). For an example of "something in between"
see Zellig G. Harris, Methods in Structural Linguistics (Chicago, University of
Chicago Press, 1951, p. 193). While some of what I describe agrees rather closely
with Hockett (see n. 39, below), I have preferred to take an independently em-
pirical approach, without reference to twentieth-century views, for two reasons:
(1) I am dealing with the ideas and devices known, or probably known, to
Pope, who could not have known twentieth-century theories and concepts; (2)
Pope speaks of representative meter, by which, in terms of his statements on
the subject, the examples he gives, and the techniques he employs, I must take
him to refer to whatever sounds and movements and patterns help represent
the meaning. A larger concept than onomatopoeia, this must be taken to in-
clude subjective "representation" (so long as the subjectivity is widely experi-
enced, perhaps through the conditioning effect of tradition) and morphemic
"representation." Moreover, linguists seem inclined to grant that, whatever


while certainty recedes farther and farther into the distance as one
leaves the simple question of mere words for the more complex
devices of alliteration, or run-on lines, or pause; or simple sound
correspondence for the more esoteric regions of correspondence in
Certain real correspondences are of course possible to a line
of verse which are not possible to a single word. A line, for ex-
ample, may describe a sudden stop-and come to a sudden stop; a
device which is particularly effective if the stop is at an unexpected
place in the line. Moreover, if hiss is onomatopoetic, then a line
which describes the voice of a serpent and is crowded with s's
should be at least equally so. But there is this difference: hiss
always "represents"; but a sudden stop in an unexpected place
may be merely for variety, and a line with numerous s's may have
nothing whatever to do with the voice of a serpent. A line describ-
ing the halting gait of a cripple may have purposely outlandish
meter; but lines that are outlandish metrically may appear quite
without intention in the work of a poetaster. The regular prac-
tice of a particular poet also makes a difference; if one finds en-
jambment between couplets in Pope, one seeks a "representative"
reason; in Keats' Endymion, one most likely does not. Most people
would agree that, considering his theories, Pope probably intended
the following line to be slow-moving:
And oft look'd back, slow-moving o'er the strand. (Iliad, I, 453)
But they may or may not agree that it is slow-moving. On the
other hand, the following line seems to me to "represent" not
swiftness but the rocking, "bounding" motion which is the type of
motion being described:
Above the bounding billows swift they flew. (Iliad, I, 628)
This time, I imagine, many people would doubt that such an effect
was intended, much less achieved, especially since Pope's recorded
statements offer no direct evidence that he believed such an effect
possible, as they do regarding speed or its lack. All I can do, there-

they call such phenomena, the linguistically untrained reader (such as Pope!)
will assume them to be representational or even onomatopoetic. See, for ex-
ample, Bloomfield, p. 156 ("to the speaker it seems as if the sounds were
especially suited to the meaning"); and Charlton Laird, The Miracle of Lan-
guage (Cleveland, World Publishing Co., 1953, p. 73).



fore, is to point out the three successive b's and the trochaic effect
of bounding billows and say (rather helplessly) that to me the
rocking motion is there; that the elements I have indicated seem to
me to put it there; and that such techniques as alliteration in so
careful a poet as Pope are not, generally speaking, random.36 But
to one who (quite legitimately) finds, even after it is suggested to
him, no correspondence between the significance of the word
bounding and the movement of the line, I should have proved
exactly nothing. After all, a good deal of the correspondence be-
tween sound and sense in poetry is conventional. We have come
to accept back vowels as an element in solemnity or gloom, r's for
roughness, difficult pronunciation for difficult movement, voiced
continuants for smoothness, and so on. These are conventions.
Nothing is inherently gloomy about the o of solemn or the oo of
doom, nor would we find them so in mollycoddle or food. But we
have come to accept the view that if the sense is mournful, back
vowels help emphasize it. We prefer the effect to be subtle; but we
should feel uncomfortable at a line expressive of gloom in which
the dominant sounds were short front vowels and unvoiced stopped
There is, of course, another sort of representation which is more
rhetorical in nature. Pope's two commonest uses of alliteration fall
into this category: parallel alliteration reinforcing parallel sense;
alliteration of adjective and substantive reinforcing the union of
the two. Existence of this sort of representative meter is not
especially disputed or disputable; and it is probably this sort
which eighteenth-century critics sometimes had in mind when they
reiterated their pleas for a correspondence of sound and sense.
Pope himself stated strongly in his letter on prosody that verse
should imitate sound and motion, and can do it well:
It is not enough that nothing offends the ear ... in describing
a gliding stream, the numbers should run easy and flowing; in
describing a rough torrent or deluge, sonorous and swelling;
and so of the rest....
This, I think, is what very few observe in practice, and is
undoubtedly of wonderful force in printing the image on the

36. I. A Richards gives very similar examples of lines relating alliteration and
movement to a description of movement (Principles of Literary Criticism, pp.


The famous passage in An Essay on Criticism (11. 364-373) is a
versification of this almost exactly, except that it goes on (11. 374-
383) to praise emotional correspondence as well. In his letter Pope
had mentioned Homer and Virgil as pre-eminently successful prac-
titioners of representation; and in his later essays on Homer in
connection with his translations, he went even farther, praising
both poets for their skill in matching sound to sense, in terms in-
dicating that he meant more than mere general correspondence, for
Thus his [Homer's] measures, instead of being fetters to his
sense, were always in readiness to run along with the warmth
of his rapture, and even to give a farther representation of his
notions, in the correspondence of the sounds to what they
In view of such statements, it is not surprising that Pope's prac-
tice could easily be used as a manual of methods of successful
representation. Many of his wonderfully skillful displays of repre-
sentative meter are famous: the close of The Dunciad, the portrait
of Sporus in Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, various passages in The
Rape of the Lock. Pope's representation in its simplest form de-
pends heavily on onomatopoetic words:
Th'impatient weapon whizzes on the wing;
Sounds the tough horn, and twangs the quiv'ring string.
(Iliad, IV, 156-157)
But he imitates movement, or movement and sound, more often
than sound alone; and this requires more complex means:
As torrents roll, increased by numerous rills,
With rage impetuous down their echoing hills;
Rush to the vales, and, pour'd along the plain,
Roar thro' a thousand channels to the main. (Iliad, IV, 516-519)
Here the impression of swift, loud movement is created by the
many r's, the back vowels, the avoidance of consonant clusters and
consequent ease of pronunciation, the lack of spondees, the several
light feet, the several trisyllables, the initial trochees, the late cae-
sura in the last line. Slow, smooth motion can be equally well
In a soft, silver Stream dissolved away. (Windsor-Forest, 204)

37. Preface to the Iliad, Complete Poetical Works, p. 254.


And so can more specialized motions, such as shrinking or con-
Or Alom-Stypticks with contracting Power
Shrink his thin Essence like a rivell'd Flower.
(Rape of the Lock, II, 131-132)
Here, among the elements contributing to the effect are the "dry"
sound of the many unvoiced stops (two p's, three k-sounds, four
t's) in the first line, especially in juxtaposition-pt and ct, both
heavily accented; the contrasting "thin" continuants, mostly dental
(sh, s, n) in the second line; and in both lines the short front
vowels, representative of littleness.
Short front vowels can equally well represent a mental or emo-
tional rather than a physical littleness:
Thron'd in the Centre of his thin designs;
Proud of a vast Extent of flimzy lines. (Arbuthnot, 93-94)
In this passage, Pope applies to versification his favorite humorous
device of anticlimax, allowing the resonant back vowels in the
first half of each line (throned, proud, vast) to lapse into a "flimsy"
mass of short e's and i's.
But as a confused littleness can be represented, so can a confused
The gathering number, as it moves along,
Involves a vast involuntary throng. (Dunciad, IV, 81-82)
Here the repeated v's and l's, the open back vowels, and the poly-
syllable are as effective as they are reminiscent of Milton.
Types of feet may be used for representation. The sense of the
word equal is matched by the regular iambics in
And urg'd the rest by equal Steps to rise. (E. on C., 97)
The opportunity to linger over the second foot in the following
line, effected by the spondee and the long vowels and the nasal con-
tinuants, reinforces the idea of length and of funereal slowness:
w w ` ^r -
While the long fun'rals blacken all the way.
(Unfortunate Lady, 40)
And very occasionally, as I have already noticed, real violence is
done to the iambic pattern for the sake of representation:
Jumping, high o'er the shrubs of the rough ground,



Rattle the clatt'ring cars, and the shocked axles bound.
(Iliad, XXIII, 142-143)
Here, where jumping and rattling and jerky movement are de-
scribed, the first line has only one iambic foot, and in the second
line (an Alexandrine), even if clatt'ring is accepted as a dissyllable,
there are only three iambic feet out of six.
The use of difficult pronunciation to represent difficult physical
exertion appears again and again, for example:
Then fierce Tydides stoops; and, from the fields
Heav'd with vast force, a rocky fragment wields.
(Iliad, V, 369-370)
Enjambment may have a representative purpose, often, as in
the following couplet, in combination with unusual caesura:
Which,/without passing thro' the Judgment,/gains
The Heart,/and all its End at once attains. (E. on C., 156-157)
Unusual caesura may be used for climax:
To help me thro' this long Disease,/my Life, (Arbuthnot, 132)
or for anticlimax:
The Mighty Mother, and her Son who brings
The Smithfield Muses to the ear of Kings,
I sing./ (Dunciad, I, 1-3)
And after all it is in humor that Pope's skill is greatest and most
characteristic.38 One knows of no one else who can achieve quite
such effects as the brilliantly risible
As when a dab-chick waddles thro' the copse. (Dunciad, II, 63)
There are more difficult cases. One feels a representative quality
in such a couplet as
Weak, foolish man! will Heav'n reward us there
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here?
(E. on M., IV, 173-174)
In this and many other instances, Pope gains his effect in part by
analyzing his principal, usually unpleasant, word or words-in this
case, trash-and repeating its principal elements elsewhere in the
lines. Here the sh is repeated in foolish and wish, and the short a

38. Cf. Tillotson, p. 121.


in man and mad, thus accounting for most of the key words. To
this he adds an (almost surely purposely) obvious and hence ill-
sounding alliteration (weak, will, with, wish; man, mad, mortal).
And he thus succeeds in transmitting the distinct impression that
the lines themselves have an unpleasant texture to match their
meaning.39 Another instance of this is:
In the fat Age of Pleasure, Wealth, and Ease,
Sprung the rank Weed, and thriv'd with large Increase.
(E. on C., 534-535)40
Several unpleasant ideas appear in the first line: "fat age," and (in
context) "pleasure" and "ease." And the short a of fat is repeated
in rank; the soft g of age is repeated in large (and there is the
closely related s of pleasure); the short e of pleasure appears again
in wealth; and the long e of ease in weed and increase. In addition,
there are the alliteration of wealth and weed; and the ugly contrast
of the many smooth sounds (voiced continuants, like the s in pleas-
ure and the v in thriv'd; drawn-out vowels, like the i in thrived and
the a in large) with the evil luxuriance of the meaning. Smoothness
plus corruption equal decadence; and decadence is precisely the
effect obtained in these lines. Such a combination of techniques
accounts for the ugliness of many unpleasant passages in the
Epistle to Arbuthnot, The Dunciad, and numerous other poems.
Pope's range in representative meter was wide. One of the major
purposes in any poem-by-poem analysis of his prosody must be to
show the astonishing variety and astonishingly consistent effective-
ness of his "representative" effects.
39. This technique seems to be close to what Hockett refers to as "second-
ary association." See n. 35, above.
40. The apparent borrowing from Shakespeare shows only that Shakespeare
came close to the same technique:
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf. (Hamlet, I, v, 32-33)



The heroic couplet as Pope uses it in the Pastorals and Windsor-
Forest and the other early poems is already a fine instrument,
capable of fairly subtle modulation. Yet quite naturally, the Pas-
torals come nearer in spirit to the strict prosodic rules of Pope's
letter, and have fewer exceptions, than almost any other of his
poems. They depart comparatively seldom, for example-though
they do depart-from the caesura established as orthodox in his
letter,1 that following the fourth, fifth, or sixth syllable. Such a
passage as the following from Autumn is typical:
Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Lay! 4
Beneath yon Poplar oft we past the Day: 5
Oft on the Rind I carv'd her Am'rous Vows, 4
While She with Garlands hung the bending Boughs: 5
The Garlands fade, the Vows are worn away; 4
So dies her Love, and so my Hopes decay. (65-70) 4
Pope displays this preference also in Windsor-Forest and the Mes-
siah; and while orthodox caesuras diminish fairly steadily there-
after, the more formal poems are always likely to have more of
them. But in no poem later than Spring is the preference for the
fourth-place caesura so strong, occurring in more than half the
lines; and it is very high in the other Pastorals as well. This em-
phasis upon the fourth-place caesura has probably a good deal to
do with the Pastorals' artificial tone, though the Pastorals are also
unusual in having more second-place caesuras than sixth-and in-
deed for having more caesuras in the first half of the line than any
later poems examined in this study.
But while Pope obviously stayed closer to the rules in the
Pastorals than he did later, he was already able to depart from
them with notable skill, not merely for variety, but for calculated
effect, as for instance:
Thro' Rocks and Caves/ the Name of Delia sounds,
Delia,/each Cave and ecchoing Rock rebounds, (Autumn, 49-50)

1. The rule for not more than three successive caesuras is also, more sur-
prisingly, broken; see pp. 6-7 and n. 6, Chapter I, above.


The Moon,/serene in Glory,/mounts the Sky, (Winter, 6)
and the truly excellent
No more the mounting Larks,/ while Daphne sings,
Shall/list'ning in mid Air/suspend their Wings. (Winter, 53-54)
The most important difference in caesura between the Pastorals
and Windsor-Forest is the significant increase in sixth-place caesuras,
and Windsor-Forest is the significant increase in sixth-place caesuras
Earth's distant Ends our Glory shall behold, 4
And the new World launch forth to seek the Old. 6
Then Ships of uncouth Form shall stem the Tyde, 6
And Feather'd People crowd my wealthy Side, 5
And naked Youths and painted Chiefs admire 4
Our Speech, our Colour, and our strange Attirel 2-5
Oh stretch thy Reign, fair Peace! from Shore to Shore, 6
Till Conquest cease, and Slav'ry be no more: 4
Till the freed Indians in their native Groves 5
Reap their own Fruits, and woo their Sable Loves, 4
Peru once more a Race of Kings behold, 4
And other Mexico's be roof'd with Gold. (401-412) 6
Throughout his career, Pope used this increase in the sixth-place
caesura as one method of attaining dignity, solemnity, or mag-
nificence: in the Messiah; in the powerful opening eighteen lines
of An Essay on Man, Epistle II; in the story of Sir Balaam in the
third Moral Essay; in the close of The Dunciad. Thus while a
certain tendency may be discerned on the basis of time only-the
sixth-place caesura is never again so rare as in the Pastorals-the
principal cause of variation here, as elsewhere in Pope's prosody,
is the matching of sound to sense. Sixth-place caesuras, as Johnson
was to point out, are as a type majestic. A few of them are always
essential for variety; but they should occur more frequently only
when an actual majesty or solemnity of thought is to be clothed in
verse suitable to it.
Both the Pastorals and Windsor-Forest are close to rule regarding
meter. Here even the initial trochee, always a common Pope vari-
ant, is scarcer than in any later important poem except the Mes-
siah.2 Medial trochees are, as always, rare, but Pope already knew

2. In the Pastorals, the occurrence is about one line in ten; in The Rape of
the Lock, about one in five; in the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace,
about one in four.


how to employ this variant for special effect:
And the fleet Shades glide o'er the dusky Green, (Autumn, 64)
Seel the bold Youth strain up the threatening Steep.
(Windsor-Forest, 155)
The Pastorals are especially regular, the measures tripping lightly
along with little interruption of any sort. This is perhaps as it
should be in the pastoral, so long as regularity does not mean
monotony; and in a form which is itself so artificial and filled with
set speeches, a style either loose or abrupt, either colloquial or
impassioned, would seem incongruous. If the pastoral is used as
a vehicle for deep emotion as it is by Milton or Matthew Arnold,
then one expects a fuller, more open style. But while Pope's
pastorals are not shallow-it is surprising how much real feeling
hides beneath the decorousness of the form-they are nevertheless
intended principally for light connoisseur amusement, and a more
complex metrical variety would be unsuitable.
There is nothing very remarkable about the use of line and
couplet in the Pastorals. Closed couplets occur more frequently,
especially in the portions intended as songs, than was Pope's later
custom; and long series of interrelated couplets are prevented by
the alternation of singers in the contest in Spring and by the
refrains in Autumn and Winter. The very fact of song makes a
division into smaller and more regular word-groups desirable. An
occasional variation occurs, however, of a type not much found
elsewhere in Pope:
In Spring the Fields, in Autumn Hills I love,
At Morn the Plains, at Noon the shady Grove;
But Delia always, (Spring, 77-79)
Ye shady Beeches, and ye cooling Streams,
Defence from Phoebus', not from Cupid's Beams;
To you I mourn. (Summer, 13-15)3
The same pattern appears in Windsor-Forest.4 And Windsor-

3. The semicolons preventing normal enjambment between the second and
third lines in each of these quotations are abnormal both grammatically and
in Pope's practice, see n. 16, Chapter I, above. The grammatically impossible
punctuation of the 1st edition may in this case represent Pope's youthful hesi-
tation to break the couplet pattern. As the two subsequent quotations (see note
4) from Windsor-Forest show, he soon lost his hesitancy.
4. E.g., 11. 1-3 and 349-351. See also Messiah, 11. 3-5.


Forest, lacking refrains or songs and containing narrative, fuller
description, and more complex thought sequences, is naturally
freer than the Pastorals in the use of open couplets. Open series
of at least three or four couplets are common, and there is one
instance of eight (11. 241-256).5 Strong enjambment within the
couplet is scarce, but it does occur in both the Pastorals (e.g.,
Winter, 11. 65-66) and Windsor-Forest (e.g., 11. 91-92).
Song, alternation of speakers, and use of refrains, as well as the
earliness of the work are some of the reasons for the general
integrity of line and couplet in the Pastorals. The almost unin-
terrupted flow of the various rhetorical devices of repetition and
antithesis is yet another.6 This rhetoric is a source of both strength
and weakness in the Pastorals: strength, because, if lines and
couplets are to be units, rhetorical patterning helps to hold them
together, and because word play is a natural and acceptable ele-
ment in love songs; weakness, because Pope had not yet learned
so to control and limit his rhetoric as to point up the meaning
rather than call attention to itself. In Spring, for example, one
finds many instances of simple parallelism, often with rhetorical
You, that too Wise for Pride, too Good for Pow'r; (7)
Two Swains, whom Love kept wakeful, and the Muse; (18)
chiasmus, again with alliteration:
Fresh as the Morn, and as the Season fair; (20)
Why sit we mute, when early Linnets sing,
When warbling Philomel salutes the Spring?
Why sit we sad, when Phosphor shines so clear,
And lavish Nature paints the Purple Year? (25-28)
and antithesis:
She runs, but hopes she does not run unseen. (58)

5. Syntactically. The punctuation of the 1st edition again obscures, and
distorts, the grammar.
6. See also Tw., I, 54-55, and Tillotson, pp. 124-131. Other rhetorical devices,
such as apostrophe, exclamation, interrogation, and rhetorical inversion, are
also very frequent; but since they do not involve repetition and balance, they
do not concern the present argument.

But this list is not complete: there is, in one form or another,
constant very neat rhetorical patterning of words, phrases, and
clauses, constant rhetorical balance of line with line, stanza with
stanza. Zeugma and anaphora are especially frequent; and the
former can be very graceful:
If Delia smile, the Flow'rs begin to spring,
The Skies to brighten, and the Birds to sing. (71-72)
But it can also be very awkward:
In Spring the Fields, in Autumn Hills I love. (77)
Almost every line in Spring is a part, too often obviously, of such
The other three Pastorals are not so noticeably rhetorical as
Spring, partly because they do not consist of alternate singing, with
each singer trying to cap the other. The rhetorical repetition is
more varied, too, and somewhat more subtle, for example, the
famous lines from Summer:
Where-e'er you walk, cool Gales shall fan the Glade,
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a Shade,
Where-e'er you tread, the blushing Flow'rs shall rise,
And all things flourish where you turn your Eyes. (73-76)
Pope uses rhetorical repetition less obviously in Windsor-Forest
than in the Pastorals. Even when the word play is noticeable, as in
the rhetorical alliteration of
The lonely Lords of empty Wilds and Woods, (48)
it has as a rule a felicity which is its own excuse. As might be ex-
pected, antithesis occurs far more frequently than in the Pastorals:
And where, tho' all things differ, all agree, (16)
But while the Subject starved, the Beast was fed. (60)
On the whole, Pope here integrates his rhetoric far better than in
the Pastorals, and while he certainly employs such characteristic
devices as zeugma and chiasmus, they are less frequent and much
less apparent. The rhetoric of the later and in some ways tech-
nically finer Eloisa to Abelard is much more obvious than that of
Pope keeps his language in the Pastorals appropriately simple.
They and Windsor-Forest alike have fewer polysyllabic words pro-



portionately than any other of his major poems.7 Since the Pas-
torals combine formality and simplicity, it is not surprising that
they are almost exactly average in monosyllables per line. Since
Winter is an elegy, and hence of greatest dignity, it is not sur-
prising that it has the fewest monosyllables of the four. And since
Windsor-Forest is more formal and intellectual than the Pastorals,
it is not surprising that its monosyllable rate is much lower than
the average of theirs.8 But considering how much space is devoted to
description, the Pastorals are also remarkably abundant in verbs9-
an excellent sign that Pope learned much of his trade very early.
On the other hand, both the Pastorals and Windsor-Forest are high
in adjectives; and however effective the individual epithets may be,
entirely too many two-syllable epithets are used at least partly to
fill out the decasyllabic pattern, for example:
She saw her Sons with (purple) Deaths expire,
Her sacred Domes involved in (rolling) Fire,
A (dreadful) Series of Intestine Wars, (Windsor-Forest, 323-325)
For her, the Flocks refuse their (verdant) Food,
The thirsty Heifers shun the (gliding) Flood.
The silver Swans her (hapless) Fate bemoan, (Winter, 37-39)
and the almost unforgivable
The gulphy Lee his sedgy Tresses rears. (Windsor-Forest, 346)
But again these are lapses which Pope would not have permitted
himself later; and again one finds beside them truly excellent use
of the same method:
And makes his trembling Slaves the Royal Game.
(Windsor-Forest, 64)
Other than for simple parallelism'0 and-especially in Windsor-

7. One each in Spring, Summer, and Winter, none in Autumn. They occur
in 1 per cent of the lines in Windsor-Forest. See n. 21, Chapter I, above.
8. Pastorals, 5.97 monosyllables per line; Winter, 5.50; Windsor-Forest, 5.63.
On the other hand, the Pastorals contain only five monosyllabic lines, or about
1 per cent; Windsor-Forest, slightly more.
9. Spring has 1.34 verbs per line. Verbs in Pope range from 1.01 per line
in The Dunciad to 1.44 in Epilogue to the Satires. Spring is high. (The verb
count includes participles when their use is clearly more verbal than adjectival;
infinitives; and auxiliaries other than the perfect, emphatic, continuous, future,
passive, and conditional, which are included only if they appear in a separate
line from the main verb.)
10. Sometimes not so simple:


Forest-to emphasize the union of substantive and adjective, Pope
uses alliteration (and other consonant patterning) in these poems
mainly to heighten passages of rich description:
Now bright Arcturus glads the teeming Grain,
Now Golden Fruits on loaded Branches shine,
And grateful Clusters swell with floods of Wine;
Now blushing Berries paint the yellow Grove, (Autumn, 72-75)
Or under Southern Skies exalt their Sails,
Led by new Stars, and born by spicy Gales!
For me the Balm shall bleed, and Amber flow,
The Coral redden, and the Ruby glow. (Windsor-Forest, 391-394)
Assonance is often used in the same way:
O'er Golden Sands let rich Pactolus flow, (Spring, 61)
His Purple Crest, and Scarlet-circled Eyes, (Windsor-Forest, 116)
Where clearer Flames glow round the frozen Pole.
(Windsor-Forest, 390)
The finest example of assonance in Windsor-Forest, however, is
effective far beyond mere adornment. The meaning itself is in-
tensified by the beautiful interplay of closely related back vowels
(not all of them actually assonantal) in
With slaught'ring Guns th 'unweary'd Fowler roves,
When Frosts have whiten'd all the naked Groves;
Where Doves in Flocks the leafless Trees o'ershade,
And lonely Woodcocks haunt the watry Glade. (125-128)
The assonance of "leafless trees" is a beautiful contrast to the main
theme; the long a rime of the second couplet is finely anticipated in
"naked." Pope seldom employed his skill for a purpose quite like
this, and when he did he rarely surpassed the workmanship here
Even more complex vowel (and consonant) patterning occurs in
the Pastorals, but without the delicate music and close support of
meaning which makes the Windsor-Forest passage so effective:
Me gentle Delia beckons from the Plain,
e e e e a

If Delia smile, the Flow'rs begin to spring,
The Skies to brighten, and the Birds to sing. (Spring, 71-72)

Then hid in Shades, eludes her eager Swain;
But feigns a Laugh, to see me search around, (Spring, 53-55)
Now rise, and haste to yonder Woodbine Bow'rs,
A soft Retreat from sudden vernal Show'rs.
s t r t r t r s d n r n r (Spring, 97-98)
This sort of purely ornamental complexity is rare in Pope except
in the descriptive poetry up to 1717. It reaches its height in Eloisa
to A belard.
On the other hand, simpler patterns of internal consonants (par-
ticularly 1, m, n, and r) appear quite effectively in both the Pastorals
and Windsor-Forest:
Let Vernal Airs thro' trembling Osiers play, (Spring, 5)
The vivid Green his shining Plumes unfold;
His painted Wings, and Breast that flames with Gold.
(Windsor-Forest, 117-118)
Nevertheless in the Pastorals even the simplest sound repetition
may unpleasantly call attention to itself:
Nor blush to sport on Windsor's blissful Plains, (Spring, 2)
Embrace my Love, and bind my Brows with Bays, (Summer, 38)
and particularly the purposeless hissing of
Blest Swains, whose Nymphs in ev'ry Grace excell;
Blest Nymphs, whose Swains those Graces sing so well!
(Spring, 95-96)
Windsor-Forest is freer from such lapses, largely because even the
more obvious sound repetition is likely to have a purpose in
"representing" or unifying prominent ideas:
But when the tainted Gales the Game betray, (101)
To Plains with well-breath'd Beagles we repair, (121)
They fall, and leave their little Lives in Air. (134)
But the obvious and hence self-defeating use of sound repetition
was a fault of which Pope was more than occasionally guilty, at
least until after those poems collected in 1717.
Many of the lines already quoted from the Pastorals and Wind-
sor-Forest demonstrate that the young Pope already knew much



about representative meter. He knew, abundantly well, for ex-
ample, what could be done with the caesura:
Oft as the mounting Larks their Notes prepare,
They fall,/and leave their little Lives in Air.
(Windsor-Forest, 133-134)
He knew what could be done with the apparent trochee:
Now fainting, sinking, pale, the Nymph appears;
(Windsor-Forest, 191)
and (though not yet extensively) with the real:
Flutters in Blood, and panting beats the Ground.
(Windsor-Forest, 114)
He could run his verse swift and open through several lines when
the sense seemed to need it:
It chanc'd, as eager of the Chace the Maid
Beyond the Forest's verdant Limits stray'd,
Pan saw and lov'd, and burning with Desire
Pursu'd her Flight. (Windsor-Forest, 181-184)
Already in Winter, he was capable of a gradual rising and opening,
from a quiet, almost hesitant movement to a full roaring sweep:
Her Fate is whispered by the gentle Breeze,
And told in Sighs to all the trembling Trees;
The trembling Trees, in ev'ry Plain and Wood,
Her Fate remurmur to the silver Flood;
The silver Flood, so lately calm, appears
Swell'd with new Passion, and o'erflows with Tears;
The Wind and Trees and Floods her Death deplore,
Daphne, our Grief! our Glory now no more! (61-68)
In addition to the change in the quality of vowels and consonants
from first to last in this passage, and the change in caesural value,
and the increase in number of heavy beats per line; and in addition
to the enjambment between lines 65 and 66, which hastens the flow,
line 67, a type found rarely in Pope, increases both speed and
emphasis because all the feet are true iambs and there is almost no
An even more notable example of shift in tone, and perhaps

11. That is, each iamb consists either of one single dissyllabic word or of
two monosyllabic words. Contrast the third line, in which the meter is iambic,
but words must be divided to form the iambs.

the most notable single effect in the whole of these early poems, is
the close of Windsor-Forest. Like Milton in Lycidas, Pope aban-
dons emotional fire and heat for a quiet conclusion:
Here cease thy flight.... (423)
The change is sudden. The contrast is tremendous. And one
realizes something new about the quality of quiet. Left behind is
the thunder-perhaps, it must be admitted, a thunder perilously
close to bathos-of such lines as
Exil'd by Thee from Earth to deepest Hell,
In Brazen Bonds shall barb'rous Discord dwell:
Gigantick Pride, pale Terror, gloomy Care,
And mad Ambition, shall attend her there. (413-416)
The sound and the fury are replaced by the peaceful tenor of
My humble Muse, in unambitious Strains,
Paints the green Forests and the flow'ry Plains,
Where Peace descending bids her Olives spring,
And scatters Blessings from her Dove-like Wing. (427-430)
And so on. No matter that Pope was following Milton-and these
are not the only echoes of Milton in Windsor-Forest-he has
achieved a significant effect of his own. If the effect seems to be
too much like that in Mendelssohn's Spring Song, it is probably
because the technique is superior to the material.
The Pastorals and Windsor-Forest are, to be sure, limited in
scope; but so far as they go, they show clearly the promise which
Pope's later work was to fulfill. If one cannot know from them that
Pope will use sound patterns consummately well to intensify the
emotion of disgust as he does in The Dunciad, one may at least
expect that when so young a poet has already so fine (if not con-
sistent) a touch with alliteration and assonance, a brilliant, sus-
tained, and superbly flexible use of those techniques will be forth-
coming. If one cannot anticipate from them the beautiful con-
versational tone of passages in the later satires, one may guess that
a youth with the ideal of correctness ringing in his ears who can
yet-if so far only occasionally-break rules with skill and purpose,
will make of his chosen verse form a very cunning instrument. The
Pastorals and Windsor-Forest have their depths as well as their
eminences; and in them few rules are lightly broken. It could not
be otherwise. But few poets anywhere ever came forth into the


world with so many of their characteristic excellences already on
display for all who read to see and for at least the unenvious to
In general metrical technique, the Messiah rather closely re-
sembles Windsor-Forest: in orthodox caesuras (at a high rate
among Pope's poems), in use of the initial trochee (low), in pro-
portion of monosyllables and of monosyllablic lines (low). Dis-
tinctly an early poem, its principal variation from the metrical pat-
tern of the other early poems lies in its increase in caesuras in the
latter half of the line and particularly the sixth-place caesura; a
variation to be expected of a poem attempting to achieve sublimity.
Also it has far more elision by apocope than either Windsor-Forest
or the Pastorals-more proportionately than any other major poem.
(Pope clearly thought apocope more suitable to formal poems.) In
its brief 108 lines the Messiah has several series of open couplets
(e.g., 11. 49-56). While there is much balance of phrase against
phrase, clause against clause, and line against line, the method is
not so insistent as in the Pastorals (or Eloisa),12 and the more com-
plex devices of rhetorical repetition are, except for a rather simple
zeugma, infrequent. On the other hand, Pope here depends
heavily on apostrophe and exclamation as means-not entirely suc-
cessful means-of heightening, which anticipates Eloisa:
See spicy Clouds from lowly Saron rise,
And Carmel's flow'ry Top perfumes the Skies!
Harkl a glad Voice the lonely Desert chears:
Prepare the Way! a God, a God appears. (27-30)
Yet the descriptions which in Windsor-Forest and in Eloisa inspire
him to employ elaborate alliteration, assonance, and other sound
patterning, lapse in the Messiah to mere dry lists with compara-
tively little attempt at prosodic adornment:
And Starts, amidst the thirsty Wilds, to hear
New Falls of Water murm'ring in his Ear:
On rifted Rocks, the Dragon's late Abodes,
The green Reed trembles, and the Bulrush nods.
Waste sandy Vallies, once perplex'd with Thorn,
The spiry Firr and shapely Box adorn;
To leaf-less Shrubs the flow'ring Palms succeed,

12. See Tw., I, 104.


And od'rous Myrtle to the noisome Weed.
The Lambs with Wolves shall graze the verdant Mead,
And Boys in flow'ry Bands the Tyger lead;
The Steer and Lion at one Crib shall meet;
And harmless Serpents lick the Pilgrim's Feet. (69-80)
The only alliteration is the minor example in line 71, the only
noticeable assonance in lines 72, 73, and 75; and it is astonishing
to find Pope describing a waterfall without any attempt at repre-
sentative meter. One line only,
The crested Basilisk and speckled Snake, (82)
has the life that Pope usually gives to his descriptions in other
poems; and even this line is a reminder that elsewhere in the
Messiah the two-syllable epithet is likely to be as obvious as it is
in Windsor-Forest and the Pastorals.3
Indeed in the whole of the Messiah Pope makes the least possible
use of special representative technique, whether of meter or of
caesura or of repetition of sound. But the Alexandrine, fittingly,
appears several times and well.14 The language of Scripture does
sometimes gain exciting statement:
The Dumb shall sing, the Lame his Crutch foregoe,
And leap exulting like the bounding Roe. (43-44)
There are, not unexpectedly, fine hints of Milton:
And on the sightless Eye-ball pour the Day. (40)
And the last twenty-four lines of the poem, beginning
Rise, crown'd with Light, Imperial Salem rise! (85)
do rise to a reality of fervor and splendor. That they do this
without going beyond the spareness of prosodic technique charac-
teristic of the entire poem may be evidence that Pope felt this
spareness to be most appropriate to Scriptural materials. But

13. Pope's use of epithets, and his descriptions generally, in the Messiah are
defended in Tw., I, 105-106, and by other critics; but the defense seems to be
on grounds of literary theory rather than prosodic, or even poetic effect. To
demonstrate that the poem suited Pope's taste and that of his period is worth-
while, but does not prove that the same techniques remain effective today;
rather, it is to demonstrate that the Augustan techniques of (for example)
mock-epic have lasted better than those of pastoral or-and Tw. compares Pope's
use of Isaiah to his use of Homer-epic. No one would feel impelled to a histori-
cal defense of The Rape of the Lock.
14. See Tw., I, 107.

apostrophe and exclamation, elsewhere in the poem used to excess
and superimposed, are here sufficient and organic; the images are
grand, the language almost equally so; the regularity of meter is a
virtue; the one instance of overflowing the couplet and of enjamb-
ment is perfectly suitable, cuts across the pattern just enough, a
disciplined excess.15 The final Alexandrine brings the passage to
a triumphant and exalted close. These twenty-four lines are almost
beyond analysis, because there is almost nothing to analyze. Emo-
tion, which in the earlier passages had been beaten up hill with
the stick of exclamation, now suddenly strides forth free and
strong. The passage is like nothing else in Pope; it reveals an aspect
of his genius seen nowhere else in his entire poetical career.
Eloisa to Abelard and the Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortu-
nate Lady are usually associated as the two principal examples of
the impulse toward romanticism in Pope's poetry. The fact that
they are both monologues, that they treat women in a somewhat
similar vein, and that both concern regret for a great loss, has
served to emphasize the association. The similarity, however,
should not be taken for granted. Others of Pope's poems have ele-
ments of the romantic; and in detailed technique Eloisa and the
Unfortunate Lady show significant differences as well as resem-
The Unfortunate Lady, for example, is not so packed with that
elaborate rhetoric-the rhetorical repetition with the full range
of types; the extensive exclamation and apostrophe; the rhetorical
use of alliteration and even of caesura-which is the most remark-
able characteristic of Eloisa. Yet the Unfortunate Lady uses in-
terrogation quite as much and quite as well as Eloisa, and one of
the best known examples of anaphora in all Pope is in the shorter
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd! (51-54)
And the Unfortunate Lady's more restrained rhetoric, while never
reaching the emotional felicity of certain passages in Eloisa, never

15. LI. 99-104. Partially quoted on p. 11, above.

becomes, as Eloisa's rhetoric sometimes does, monotonous, un-
believable, and self-defeating. The Unfortunate Lady lacks the
scenic descriptions, the gloomy prospects anticipatory of the Grave-
yard school, for which Eloisa is noted; and it therefore lacks that
complex pattern of repetition of sound which Pope seems to have
reserved almost altogether for such descriptions. Moreover, while
the Unfortunate Lady displays more alliteration and assonance of
every kind than the Messiah does, yet it is nearer to that poem than
to Eloisa in frequency of such devices.
But when Pope does use alliteration and assonance in the Un-
fortunate Lady, they bring Eloisa vividly to mind:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While Angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground, now sacred by thy reliques made,
(Unfortunate Lady, 65-68)
If ever chance two wandering lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls, and silver springs,
O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds, (Eloisa, 347-350)
Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before,
(Unfortunate Lady, 33)
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil. (Eloisa, 110-111)
The Unfortunate Lady is too short for the wide variety of caesural
emphasis and use of the caesura for representation which are among
the finest qualities in Eloisa; but caesural placement in the two
poems is similar, varying mainly in the greater proportion of fifth-
place caesuras in Eloisa and of sixth-place caesuras in the Unfortu-
nate Lady. And the Unfortunate Lady does make excellent use of
the caesura for representative and rhetorical purposes:
Thence to their Images on earth/it flows, (15)
What/tho' no friends in sable weeds/appear,
Grieve for an hour,/perhaps,/then mourn a year,
And bear about/the mockery of woe
To midnight dances,/and the public show? (55-58)
The initial trochee had by this time reached, in Pope's poetry, and
was to maintain almost without exception, a frequency of about one
line in four or five; but Eloisa is below this average, as it is in
general unusually conservative (i.e., regular) in meter. The two



poems are similar in their variation of line and couplet structure;
but in the use of the polysyllable Eloisa much exceeds the Unfortu-
nate Lady or indeed any of the poems up to 1717 except An Essay
on Criticism. Both poems use monosyllables more frequently than
any other of the earlier poems; and both (but especially Eloisa) use
monosyllabic lines much more frequently.
The prosodic critic feels impelled to find causes for these patterns.
Since for example these are the only poems up to 1717 which are
intended as speech-except for the very early Pastorals, where the
speech is naturally more formal-it is not surprising that the rate of
monosyllables is high; and of the poems included in this study,
the three in the latter part of Pope's career which have the highest
monosyllable rate-a rate almost exactly like that of Eloisa and
the Unfortunate Lady-are the three which are most conversational:
Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, the First Satire of the Second Book of
Horace, and the Epilogue to the Satires. On the other hand, Eloisa
is a learned lady, and it is not surprising that her speech should
contain about as many polysyllables proportionately as An Essay
on Criticism, the most intellectual of the early poems.
What, then, of the technical differences between Eloisa and the
Unfortunate Lady? The difference between the speakers in the two
poems is at least partly the difference between a man and a
woman.'6 Eloisa's emotion is more profound-or less reserved-
and Pope seems to have felt that greater emotion required greater
regularity of form. If we nowadays are likely to stress breaks in
the flow as characteristic of emotional outbursts,7 Pope's attitude
is nonetheless psychologically valid: emotion highly wrought is
more rhythmical than the casual conversation of every day. And
the neoclassic aesthetic would take the view that high emotion

16. "This [the difference in attitude of Priam and Hecuba] puts me in
mind of a judicious stroke in Milton, with regard to the several characters of
Adam and Eve. When the Angel is driving them both out of paradise, Adam
grieves that he must leave a place where he had conversed with God and his
angels; but Eve laments that we shall never more behold the flowers of Eden.
Here Adam mourns like a man, and Eve like a woman."-Pope, note to Iliad,
XXII, 114 (from The Iliad of Homer, VI, [London, 1760]). See also Tw., II,
17. Lord Kames differentiates between immediate passions, such as surprise
and terror, which require a broken style, and passive passions, such as melan-
choly, which require slow and regular movement; and he quotes from Eloisa
to Abelard, to exemplify the latter both in passion and verse movement (pp.
238 ff.).


(as in Pope's model for Eloisa, Ovid's Heroides) is a heroic subject,
requiring the heroic, which usually meant regular, style.1s
Eloisa was a learned lady, and one can tell from the poem that
she was a learned lady, but her learning (naturally highly rhe-
torical) is all subordinated to and employed for the things of the
heart. All the parallels, all the antitheses, are to analyze her love
and tear it to pieces. There is no logic; every time logic presents
itself it is washed away in a deeper tide of feeling. The very Abe-
lard to whom Eloisa addresses herself quite obviously feels and
thinks (and not only because of his mutilation) in a way different
from hers. If it is not entirely true, it is at least conventionally ac-
cepted to the point of triteness, that love is the life of a woman but
only part of the life of a man. And one can easily imagine that the
speaker in the Unfortunate Lady will do other things than mourn.
He finds it possible to philosophize about his loss and to generalize
this death into death as the fate of all, which makes mourning es-
sentially futile.
His belief that the mills of the gods grind slow:
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall, (35-36)
and his ability to philosophize even about this anticipated venge-
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! (43-44)
are utterly different from the terrible immediacy of Eloisa's
Where, where was Eloise? her voice, her hand,
Her ponyard, had opposed the dire command. (101-102)
There is about Eloisa's emotion a hysteria, the hysteria of the
hopelessly entrapped, an in-looking, a subordination even of the
object of her love to her own feelings (she almost blames him
for not suffering as she does, she wants him to pretend a physical
emotion he cannot feel) which is entirely unlike the Lady's lover's
essentially masculine sort of tenderness for the small and delicate
and cherished (e.g., 11. 61-64), and his quite manifest ability to rise

18. On the other hand, the greater number of 5th-place caesuras in Eloisa
to Abelard and of 6th-place in Unfortunate Lady may indicate greater control
on the part of the man. Sixth-place caesuras have a quality of finality, 5th-place
of tentativeness.


above his grief and return to "Life's idle business" on the way to
his own grave.
The metrical regularity"1 of Eloisa to Abelard has, as I have said,
both a psychological and an aesthetic basis; but the rules of the
prosodic letter of half a dozen years before (for example, those
against monosyllabic lines and non-central caesuras) were by this
time being neglected far more often than in the Pastorals. Eloisa
uses monosyllabic lines for as wide a variety of effects as does any
poem in the canon;20 and these lines, as well as the generally high
monosyllable count, give a saving simplicity to a poem otherwise
approaching the overelaborate and overwrought.
This tendency toward overelaboration is most prominent in two
principal features of Eloisa: its pervasive and intricate rhetoric, and
its equally complex and almost equally continuous employment of
the devices of sound. The question, the exclamation, the apostro-
phe are everywhere; and while they contribute to tonal consistency,
the apostrophe and exclamation particularly try to do more than
they alone can. In a couplet like
O death all-eloquent! you only prove
What dust we doat on, when 'tis man we love, (335-336)
they must certainly be approved. But little can be said for such
lines-and they are numerous-as
O grace serene! oh virtue heav'nly fair! (297)
Apostrophe and exclamation must seem inevitable. To use exclama-
tion (or the exclamation point) where the emotion fails to justify
it, is to risk the loss of suspension of disbelief and to approach the
dubious emotionality of melodrama.21
It is difficult to imagine how any poem could be more crowded
with rhetorical repetition and antithesis than is Eloisa; hardly a

19. As always, there are individual exceptions, and highly irregular lines
(for Pope) do occur in Eloisa to Abelard, e.g., the examples on p. 10, above.
20. E.g., 11. 50, 74, 116, 118, 201, 233, 235, 289, 328, 336, 363, and two mono-
syllabic couplets, 123-124 and 291-292.
21. "I am inclined to think he was not much mistaken, who said, that
when, on looking into a book, he found the pages thick bespangled with the
point which is called 'punctum admirationis,' he judged this to be a sufficient
reason for his laying it aside . it has now become a fashion [with "rapturous"
writers] .. to subjoin points of admiration to sentences, which contain nothing
but simple affirmations, or propositions; as if, by an affected method of pointing,
they could transform them in the reader's mind into high Figures of eloquence."
-Blair, I, 415.


line in the poem, hardly a word, exists apart from such arrange-
ment. Every device at the poet's command is turned to its pur-
poses. Caesura is used:
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought; 4
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault; 5
I view my crime, but kindle at the view, 4
Repent old pleasures, and sollicit new. (183-186) 5
Alliteration (employed more often, probably, than in any other
poem to unite substantive and adjective) reinforces all sorts of
repetition in all sorts of ways:
Pant on thy lip, and to thy heart be prest, (123)
In these deep solitudes and awful cells, (1)
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat? (5-6)
Assonance is frequently used in the same ways:
Come banish'd lover, or some captive maid, (52)
No craving Void left making in the breast, (94)
and alliteration and assonance together:
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys. (16)
Zeugma, chiasmus, and anaphora are typical; but simple balance is
more frequent, more typical. Eloisa's mind simply works-or is
made to work-in pairs and in series. Almost everything is in con-
junction with something else:
No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows, (252)
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart. (56)
Or if not that, then one thing needs repeating in a new way,22
amplifying, developing to a climax, often and characteristically
without the conjunction:
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief, (49)
I can no more; by shame, by rage supprest, (105)
I wake-no more I hear, no more I view. (235)
And such habits of speech often continue in the most complex
patterns through long series of open couplets.
Antithesis, too, is exceptionally frequent; but that Eloisa's mind,
manifestly rhetorical, should have a special antithetical bent is not
surprising: it represents the essence of her despair:

22. "Passion has often the effect of redoubling words."-Kames, p. 238.

Nor wish'd an Angel whom I lov'd a Man, (70)
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought, (183)
Teach me at once, and learn of me to die. (328)
Her mind seems also to work by means of true rhetorical inver-
Yet, yet I love!-From Abelard it came, (7)
No happier task these faded eyes pursue, (47)
From lips like those what precept failed to move? (67)
Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie. (121)
At its best all this rhetoric is so caught up into the texture of the
emotion as to achieve real fusion and genuine poignancy:
No, fly me, fly me! far as Pole from Pole;
Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll! (289-290)
I call aloud; it hears not what I say;
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away. (237-238)
The devices of sound employed in much of this rhetoric are also
used for representative purposes, especially in the elaborate pat-
terning typical of the set descriptive passages of Eloisa. Indeed
alliteration and assonance appear anywhere and everywhere, some-
times with unpleasant obtrusiveness:
Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep, (314)
Thro' dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe. (242)
But even in single lines, sound repetition can have all sorts of
representative purposes, as to reinforce solemnity:
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom! (38)
or to indicate apprehensive nervousness:
That well-known name awakens all my woes; (30)
or the pride of truth:
Guiltless I gaz'd; heav'n listened while you sung; (65)
or disdain:
What dust we doat on, when 'tis man we love; (336)
or explosive horror:
A naked Lover bound and bleeding lies; (100)

23. As in all Pope, some inversion in Eloisa to Abelard seems merely for
the exigencies of rime; but much of it, as here, seems especially characteristic
of Eloisa and genuinely for emphasis.


or simple determination:
Dear fatal name rest ever unreveal'd,
Nor pass these lips in holy silence seal'd. (9-10).
And Pope of course uses representative meter for all the simpler
types of sound and motion, of crescendo and diminuendo, which
he had by this time learned thoroughly well.
More complex patterning occurs, even in passages other than
pure description:
Tho' cold like you, unmov'd, and silent grown,
o o i oo ooi o
I have not yet forgot my self to stone.
i o e o o e oo o (23-24)
But the most elaborate sound repetition and representative meter
in general do occur in the descriptive passages:
The darksom pines that o'er yon' rocks reclin'd
o ks in o R o ks R k in
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
W H i H W ind
The wandering streams that shine between the hills,
W o nd e in e H
The grots that eccho to the tinkling rills,
G o t t k t tikii
The dying gales that pant upon the trees,
Ga t p t p t
The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze;
a K er K er
No more these scenes my meditation aid,
MM M aa
Or lull to rest the visionary maid:
But o'er the twilight groves, and dusky caves,
o i 1 i GR o vz k k vz


Long-sounding isles, and intermingled graves,
1 ng n i ng i 1 i n m ing g GR vz
Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose:
D elisils D edp
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
pesnss d n sn
Shades ev'ry flow'r, and darkens ev'ry green,
rFrrrr e
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
e er er F 1 F 1
And breathes a browner horror on the woods.
BR e BR er r er (155-170)
I have attempted to list all the important repetitions-surely an
amazing number-and to capitalize the alliteration. But this at-
tempt does not begin to tell the story. Here all the stops are
opened, all techniques used: constant back vowels and liquids; all
sorts of caesural effects; long e's, nasals, and voiced continuants for
smoothness; d's and s's in the "death-like silence" couplet; the
sudden shift to short front vowels in "tinkling rills"; onomatopoetic
words, as lull, murmur, tinkling; and such strictly metrical effects
as the enjambment of the first line and the weak foot (the first in
a good many lines) which precedes "falling floods"; besides the
elaborate patterning which I have pointed out. Here Pope carries
a kind of technique as far as he was ever to take it, perhaps very
nearly as far as it can go. If we today find the technique too lux-
uriant for our taste, and the material on which it is spent too dated,
such reactions should not obscure the real brilliance of this and
other similar passages in Eloisa to Abelard.
But if such technique and such material are out of date, and if
the complexity of and insistence upon rhetorical devices become
obvious and finally (to some readers at least) monotonous and
incredible in Eloisa, there are saving graces of technique which
make the poem not a dead relic but still a memorable poetic ex-



1. As a dramatic monologue, it shows deep insight. The tone, if
insistent, is also consistent. The rhetoric, if it does at times seem
superimposed, is natural to the character, and has certain indi-
vidualized turns; and the voice is always the voice of a woman.
2. The rhetoric and the sound repetition occasionally reach no-
table heights of felicity; the emotion becomes truly pathetic and im-
3. The language has at times a directness and simplicity worthy
of high praise:
I have not yet forgot my self to stone, (24)
And if I lose thy love, I lose my all. (118)
4. Certain other techniques are masterly: the flow of the verse,
the variations in speed, the use of enjambment and of open
couplet series, and especially the variation in emphasis of pause
and the use of pause for representation:
This sure is bliss/ (if bliss on earth there be), (97)
Nature stands check'd;/Religion disapproves, (259)
Spreads his light wings,/and in a moment flies, (76)
The shrines all trembled,/and the lamps grew pale. (112)
And whatever the reasons, the fact remains that Eloisa to A belard
can still be read with pleasure, and with no sense that the emotion
is ridiculous or incongruous. One may be glad today (as inter-
vening ages would not have been) that Pope did not continue to
exploit this vein; one may find (being less accustomed to rhetorical
devices than Pope's contemporaries) that the devices sometimes fail
in their purposes, calling attention to themselves rather than clari-
fying and heightening the sense. But the requirements of verse
analysis may cause an overstressing of blemishes; and one cannot
deny to Eloisa to Abelard the four elements that make a poem of
its kind successful: unity, insight, technical skill, genuine emotion.
They may not all be at their highest or most consistent; but they
are there.
In The Rape of the Lock, the techniques which were turned
a little later to high seriousness of purpose in Eloisa to Abelard
are employed to nearly as great an extent for the purposes of
ridicule and satire. No other branch of poetry is quite so dependent
upon brilliance of style as the mock-heroic. Should it become, even



for an instant, heavy-handed; should it even for a line or two lose
the tone that is the mock-heroic's chief raison d'etre; or conversely,
should the continuation of the special tone become monotonous,
or approach that combination of the self-conscious and the over-
done which is affectation-then all would truly be lost.24 If The
Rape of the Lock had the technical blemishes of Eloisa-no more
than that-it would rank far below Eloisa among Pope's poems.
But The Rape of the Lock is practically flawless. The tone is
varied, and varied amply, but never fails. It is never self-conscious,
never overemphasized. Using the same rhetorical methods that
crowd Eloisa, and to a lesser extent most of the other serious
poems up to 1717; exhibiting a prosodic technique rather closely
related to Eloisa's; using alliteration and assonance and representa-
tive meter quite as much as Eloisa, if without Eloisa's elaborate
patterning-The Rape of the Lock would make all these methods
seem as though expressly invented for the purposes of the mock-
heroic, were it not that they seem also so delightfully to parody
Pope's serious style.
As in Eloisa, the principal characteristics of The Rape of the
Lock are its rhetoric, its use of repetition of sound, its representa-
tive meter. Some of the rhetoric results, of course-as would not
be true in Eloisa-from the requirements of epic imitation. Ex-
amples are the apostrophes and questions at the beginning:
Say what strange Motive, Goddess! cou'd compel
A well-bred Lord t'assault a gentle Belle?
Oh say what stranger Cause, yet unexplor'd,
Cou'd make a gentle Belle reject a Lord? (I, 7-10)
the type of apostrophe typical of Milton:
Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your Chief give Ear,
Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Daemons hear! (II, 73-74)
the typically Homeric statements following quoted speech:
He spoke; the Spirits from the Sails descend, (II, 137)
She said: the pitying Audience melt in Tears; (V, 1)
and the epic similes which Pope, with a superb touch, keeps con-

24. The Dunciad is only in part a mock-heroic, stylistically, and is hence not
comparable to The Rape of the Lock. But it suffers from the lack of unity.
See lan Jack, Augustan Satire: Intention and Idiom in English Poetry, 1660-1750
(Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1952, pp. 126-134).


sistently epic within themselves, allowing the mockery to appear
only in the contrast with what precedes the simile and in a certain
subtle overfluency of meter and phrase:
Thus when dispersed a routed Army runs,
Of Asia's Troops, and Africk's Sable Sons,
With like Confusion different Nations fly,
Of various Habit and of various Dye,
The pierc'd Battalions dis-united fall,
In Heaps on Heaps; one Fate o'erwhelms them all. (III, 81-86)
In the question and the exclamation, both quite frequent in
The Rape of the Lock, the resemblance to Eloisa is likely to be
rather close:
Barbarian stay! that bloody stroke restrain, (Eloisa, 103j
Ah cease rash Youth! desist ere 'tis too late,
(Rape of the Lock, III, 121)
Oh happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature, law, (Eloisa, 91-92)
Oh thoughtless Mortals! ever blind to Fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elated
(Rape of the Lock, III, 101-102)
But why should I on others' pray'rs depend?
Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend! (Eloisa, 151-152)
What tho' no Credit doubting Wits may give?
The Fair and Innocent shall still believe.
(Rape of the Lock, I, 39-40)
But The Rape of the Lock, like Eloisa, has turns giving it a positive
individuality, distinct from the general mockery of general serious
method. The exclamation is placed more variously than in Eloisa,
and is more likely to interrupt the flow of a sentence (and hence
affect the quality of the pauses):
Not youthful Kings in Battel seiz'd alive,
Not scornful Virgins who their Charms survive,
Not ardent Lovers robb'd of all their Bliss,
Not ancient Ladies when refus'd a Kiss,
Not Tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
Not Cynthia when her Manteau's pinn'd awry,
E'er felt such Rage, Resentment and Despair,
As Thou, sad Virgin! for thy ravish'd Hair, (IV, 3-10)
This erring Mortals Levity may call,
Oh blind to Truthl the Sylphs contrive it all, (I, 103-104)


Spadillio first, unconquerable Lordi
Led off two captive Trumps, and swept the Board. (III, 49-50)
And the use of the exclamation point after statements, which may
at times seem like straining the issue in Eloisa, has a natural place
in lines of purposeful bathos:
Let Wreaths of Triumph now my Temples twine,
(The Victor cry'd) the glorious Prize is minel (III, 161-162)
And all your Honour in a Whisper lost! (IV, 110)
The questions-often "rhetorical" in the special sense-are likely
to be longer and more elaborate than Eloisa's:
What guards the Purity of melting Maids,
In Courtly Balls, and Midnight Masquerades,
Safe from the treacherous Friend, the daring Spark,
The Glance by Day, the Whisper in the Dark;
When kind Occasion prompts their warm Desires,
When Musick softens, and when Dancing fires? (I, 71-76)
What boots the Regal Circle on his Head,
His Giant Limbs in State unwieldy spread?
That long behind he trails his pompous Robe,
And of all Monarchs only grasps the Globe? (III, 71-74)
Two varieties of rhetoric are typical of The Rape of the Lock but
not of Eloisa or indeed any other poem up to 1717: parenthesis and
(naturally) anticlimax. Like the exclamation, they tend to affect
the quality of the pauses; and they may also cause sudden alter-
ations of tone which add to their significance as an element of
The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily Arts,
And wins (oh shameful Chance!) the Queen of Hearts,
(III, 87-88)
O wretched Maidl she spread her Hands, and cry'd,
(While Hampton's Ecchos, wretched Maidl reply'd), (IV, 95-96)
And sleepless Lovers,/just at Twelve,/awake, (I, 16)
Sooner let Earth, Air, Sea, to Chaos fall,
Men, Monkies, Lap-dogs, Parrots, perish alll (IV, 119-120)25
Only the most unlimited space could make possible a thorough-
oing analysis of rhetorical repetition in The Rape of the Lock. It

25. The emphasis, or the pitch, or both, naturally increase in this anticlimax;
compare the climax of "her voice, her hand,/Her ponyard" (Eloisa, 101-102),
in which the same intensification occurs, but without the incongruity.

is at least as frequent and of as many types as in Eloisa, occurs
interlaced through as many series of open couplets, and displays
perhaps a finer skill in variation:
What Time wou'd spare, from Steel receives its date,
And Monuments, like Men, submit to Fate!
Steel cou'd the Labour of the Gods destroy,
And strike to Dust th'Imperial Tow'rs of Troy;
Steel cou'd the Works of mortal Pride confound,
And hew Triumphal Arches to the Ground.
What Wonder then, fair Nymph! thy Hairs should feel
The conquering Force of unresisted Steel? (III, 171-178)
Often too it has a purposeful obviousness which is probably its
most characteristic use:
Might hide her Faults, if Belles had Faults to hide, (II, 16)
Let Spades be Trumps! she said, and Trumps they were. (III, 46)
And Pope makes use-which has become famous-of the more
special kind of zeugma, the kind which can appear only humorously
or in error-and again, as so often in The Rape of the Lock, one
result is unusual caesura:
With earnest Eyes, and round unthinking Face,
He first the Snuff-box open'd,/then the Case. (IV, 125-126)
Antithesis, as in Eloisa, is frequent (e.g., I, 54; II, 12; III, 148; V,
28), and so is the rhetorical use of alliteration and assonance. But
alliteration has a special use in The Rape of the Lock (as occa-
sionally does assonance) which is also rhetorical: that of making
lines purposely overfacile. The device is used very often:
The hungry Judges soon the Sentence sign, (III, 21)
Let Wreaths of Triumph now my Temples twine, (III, 161)
Belinda burns with more than mortal Ire,
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising Fire, (IV, 93-94)
And in its Fellow's Fateforesees its own. (IV, 172).
Perhaps the greatest single glory of The Rape of the Lock, aside
from its near-perfection of tone, is its representative meter. No
poem in the Pope canon, except perhaps The Dunciad, can equal
the performance. The mastery is superb; the imitation is obvious
where Pope wants it to be obvious, subtle where he prefers subtlety.
It is malicious, it is devastating, it performs the most amazing
tricks, it uses every technique, it never goes too far. Its principal
use is to indicate littleness: -


The light Militia of the lower Sky, (I, 42)
Thin glitt'ring Textures of the fzlmy Dew;
Dipt in the richest Tincture of the Skies,
Where Light disports in ever-mingling Dies. (II, 64-66)
And there is a lightness and swiftness of both consonant and vowel
characteristic of the poem as a whole which make doubly effective
the contrast of the falsely big passages:
He springs to Vengeance with an eager pace,
And falls like Thunder on the prostrate Ace.
The Nymph exulting fills with Shouts the Sky,
The Walls, the Woods, and long Canals reply. (III, 97-100)
In plain contrast too is the section on the Cave of Spleen, whose
difference in quality of sound and movement is well represented
by its opening lines:
Umbriel, a dusky melancholy Spright,
As ever sully'd the fair face of Light,
Down to the Central Earth, his proper Scene,
Repair'd to search the gloomy Cave of Spleen. (IV, 13-16)
The light, the heavy, and still other types of sound and of move-
ment such as rising and falling are brilliantly displayed in the
passage describing the four types of supernatural creatures:
The Sprights of fiery Termagants in Flame
Mount up,/and take a Salamander's Name.
Soft yielding Minds to Water glide away,
And sip with Nymphs, their Elemental Tea.
The graver Prude silks,ddwnward'to a Gnome,
In search of Mischief still on Earth to roam.
The light Coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,
And spbrt and flutter in the Fields of Air. (I, 59-66)26
And the heavy and light also appear in the single anticlimactic line,
Of twelve vast French Romances, neatly gilt. (II, 38)
Like everything else in The Rape of the Lock, the representative
meter may be purposely overdone, as the s's like powder escaping in
To save the Powder from too rude a Gale,
Nor let th'imprison'd Essences exhale; (II, 93-94)

26. Note also the trochaic dissyllables (yielding, water, graver, downward,
mischief) in the second and third couplets, and the iambic dissyllables (Co-
quettes, aloft, repair) in the fourth.


the representation of sighing in
And breathes three am'rous Sighs to raise the Fire; (II, 42)
the strictness of the first line, very like files of pins, and the re-
peated p's, indicating insignificance, of the second line, in
Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, gillet-douix; (I, 137-138)
and the expiring quality of sound and the oversweetness in
Thus on Meander's flow'ry Margin lies
Th'expiring Swan, and as e sings he dies. (V, 65-66)
Rhetoric is turned to the uses of representation in the grotesque
overstiffness of the balance in
Here living Teapots stand, one Arm held out,
OAe bent;/the Handle this, and that the Spout. (IV, 49-50)
Among the endless imitations of movement, there is a remarkable
use of meter to represent the stalking of ghosts in
And the PALE-GHOSTS-START at the FLASH-of-DAYI (V, 52)
which is one of the few lines in Pope almost completely to lose the
sense of the iambic. In the whole poem, however, the greatest
tour de force of representation, employing caesura, meter, sound
repetition, sound type, and enjambment, and illustrating almost
every one of the passage's complex and fantastic ideas, is the
threatened punishments of irresponsible slyphs (II, 123-136).
Earlier in this study I described a type of representative meter
which seems special to Pope: that of taking an important word
(or words) in a couplet, analyzing the sounds, and repeating them
elsewhere in the lines, often in company with obvious alliteration.
Since the method is characteristically turned to the purpose of
satire, it is not surprising to find Pope employing it frequently in
The Rape of the Lock and in no other poem so far considered:27
(teach, flutter: t, e, ch (sh, f, 1, u, r; and alliteration of b)
Teach Infant-Cheeks a bidden Blush to know,
And little Hearts to flutter at a Beau; (I, 89-90)

(Affectation: k, t, a, sh (ch), n)
There Affectation with a sickly Mien
Shows in her Cheek the Roses of Eighteen; (IV, 31-32)

27. It does occur notably in An Essay on Criticism.


(lisp: 1, i, s (sh), p; and alliteration of h)
Practis'd to Lisp, and hang the Head aside,
Faints into Airs, and languishes with Pride. (IV, 33-34)
And while the polysyllable is not so frequent in The Rape of the
Lock as in Eloisa to A belard,28 it shows its characteristic use as an
element of satire:
Spadillio first, unconquerable Lordl (III, 49)
The pungent Grains of titillating Dust. (V, 84)
With relation to the prosody, the most distinctive and noteworthy
qualities of The Rape of the Lock seem, then, to be:
1. The great variety of effects within its sustained brilliance of
2. Its general and specific resemblance in both metrics and
rhetoric to Eloisa, the techniques of which it would seem often (if
it were not the earlier poem) to parody;
3. Its purposeful use of the overfacile, in rhythm, rhetoric, repe-
tition of sound, and representative meter;
4. The effects of epic conventions on prosody;
5. Use of all sorts of rhetoric, especially, as distinct from the
other poems before 1717, zeugma in the narrow sense; exclamation
as an interruption; parenthesis; and anticlimax;
6. Its unusually frequent use of enjambment;
7. The rhythm peculiar to certain of its couplets:
The pierc'd Battalions dis-united fall,
In Heaps on Heaps; one Fate o'erwhelms them all, (III, 85-86)
With store of Pray rs, for Mornings, Nights, and Noons,
Her Hand is fill'd; her Bosom with Lampoons; (IV, 29-30)
8. The general lightness of its sounds and consequent light,
swift movement; and the contrasting slowness, heaviness, and so-
nority of certain passages; and
9. The great variety of representative meter, employing very
many techniques of meter, rhetoric, and sound; and the use of a
specialized type of representative meter characteristic of Pope's
I have not yet examined An Essay on Criticism because it will
28. Eloisa, polysyllables in 5 per cent of the lines, Rape of the Lock, 2
per cent. But Rape of the Lock has notably fewer monosyllables than Eloisa:
5.92 per line, compared to 6.32; and fewer monosyllable lines: 3 per cent com-
pared to 8 per cent.

be more profitable to discuss it with its obvious companion of later
years, An Essay on Man, and then to compare both with the
(mostly) still later Moral Essays. Otherwise the list of Pope's im-
portant original poems up to and including the volume of 1717 is
complete. Pope had gone far. Many would say that he had written
his masterpiece, and certainly none of his poems have greater unity,
or brilliance, or technical skill, or have worn better than The Rape
of the Lock. Pope had, like most poets in the tradition, taken up
the pastoral first, and then laid it aside forever. Except for isolated
passages, he had done all that he was to do in the romantic vein.
And he would never again seriously undertake anything so far
from his normal bent as the Messiah.
He had mastered his style. With the conversational satires it
was to gain an additional freedom (one cannot say looseness), and
with the satirical portraits and The Dunciad, fresh tours de force
of representative meter; but one does not deny stylistic mastery to
the Shakespeare of Twelfth Night because he had not yet written
Othello, and the blank verse of Othello is not a new thing, but
a new development of the same thing, suitable to the different
thought and emotion. The same (to be sure, on a lower level of
Parnassus) may be said for the Pope of The Rape of the Lock as
compared to the Pope of the Epistle to Arbuthnot. The tools were
all in his pocket, the skill in his hands, before 1717. All he was
ever to need was suitable stone.



An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man resemble each other
in such aspects of prosody and diction as moderation in the
use of the initial trochee, of polysyllables and of monosyllabic
lines, and infrequency of alliteration and other devices of sound.
This last, plus certain rhetorical matters, are of particular im-
portance, setting the two Essays off from the remainder of Pope's
major works, since the Moral Essays tend as much toward the late
satires as they do toward An Essay on Man. That the two Essays
should stand somewhat apart from the remainder of Pope's poetry
is, of course, not surprising; they are his two major poems of the
middle style, and the prosodic characteristics they display are the
characteristics to be expected.
But the materials of the two poems are not exactly the same and
the one poem is early in Pope's career, the other rather late; so
there are likely to be differences within the similarities. One evi-
dence of this-others will appear later-is a device which occurs
infrequently but significantly in An Essay on Criticism, quite
frequently and more complexly in An Essay on Man: the sense dic-
tating unusual meter. One example from An Essay on Criticism is:
For Works may have more Wit than does 'em good. (303)
This monosyllabic line has only three heavy beats, there being three
words of greatly superior significance, and the result is, for Pope,
an unusual rhythmical pattern. Another example is:
Nature affords at least a glimm'ring Light. (21)
Here, to be sure, the metrical pattern remains normal, but the words
at least force a particularly heavy beat on glimm'ring. But the
effects in An Essay on Man are much more complex. Emphasis
may be forced onto normally insignificant words:
Man never IS, but always TO be blest, (I, 96)
How much OF other each is sure to cost;
How each FOR other oft is wholly lost. (IV, 271-272)
Or the emphasis may be additional rather than substitutive:
Has God, thou fooll work'd solely for THY good,



THY joy, THY pastime, THY attire, THY food?
Who for THY table feeds the wanton fawn,
For him as kindly spread the flow'ry lawn.
Is it for THEE the lark ascends and sings?
JOY tunes his voice, JOY elevates his wings. (III, 27-32)
Unusual variation and shades of accent resulting from unusual
thought patterns and word contrasts occur more often in An Essay
on Man than in any other major poem, and become a noticeable
part of the Essay's individual texture.
Such guiding of meter by thought leads to concentration; and an
important characteristic of both An Essay on Criticism and An Es-
say on Man is the tightness of thought texture. The verb rate is
fairly high (higher in An Essay on Criticism)x and several other
methods of achieving succinctness occur prominently. The first
of these is unusually frequent use of special foreign constructions:
Some few in THAT, but Numbers err in THIS, (E. on C., 5)
OR with a Rival's OR an Eunuch's spite, (E. on C., 31)
In THIS 'tis God directs, in THAT 'tis Man, (E. on M., III, 98)
Taught NOR to slack, NOR strain its tender strings.
(E. on M., III, 290)
The use of the "this ... that" pattern is often quite complex in An
Essay on Man:
Self-love and Reason to one end aspire,
Pain their aversion, Pleasure their desire;
But greedy THAT its object would devour,
THIS taste the honey, and not wound the flow'r, (II, 87-90)
In hearts of Kings, or arms of Queens who lay,
How happy THOSE to ruin, THESE betray. (IV, 289-290)
This complexity would fit neither the comparatively informal tone
of An Essay on Criticism, nor (since the complexity often results
from using this and that through several lines) its generally more
closed couplet pattern. And in the same way, another foreign prac-
tice, the frequent and sometimes un-English use of participial
constructions, occurs in both poems for condensation, but more
often and more complexly in An Essay on Man:
One Science only will one Genius fit;
So vast is Art, so narrow Human Wit:
Not only bounded to peculiar Arts,

1. E. on C., 1.35 verbs per line; E. on M., 1.23.

But oft in those, confin'd to single Parts, (E. on C., 60-63)
Aspiring to be Gods, if Angels fell,
Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebel, (E. on M., I, 127-128)
Man, but for that, no action could attend,
And, but for this, were active to no end;
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless thro' the void,
Destroying others, by himself destroyed. (E. on M., II, 61-66)2
As a means of condensation, zeugma also occurs notably in both
poems, but again with exceptional complexity in An Essay on Man:
And value Books, as Women Men, for Dress, (E. on C., 306)
Some foreign Writers, some our own despise;
The Ancients only, or the Moderns prize, (E. on C., 394-395)
Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescribed, their present state;
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know,
(E. on M., I, 77-79)
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call,
Each works its end, to move or govern all:
And to their proper operation still,
Ascribe all Good; to their improper, Ill. (E. on M., II, 55-58)
The use of lines to illustrate their own meaning is itself a means
of condensation, and is of course one of the special characteristics of
An Essay on Criticism. To warn against expletives in a line (346)
which makes ill and obvious use of an expletive is certainly con-
centration. Some examples of this sort of thing, like the "wounded
snake" Alexandrine or the passage on rime cliches, are famous;
others are not, such as the strong, easy
And praise the Easie Vigor of a Line, (360)
and the slippery second line, with its early caesura, of the couplet
These leave the Sense,/their Learning to display,
And those/explain the Meaning quite away. (116-117)
Other means of condensation, such as apposition and absolute con-

2. On the other hand, the "there are who" pattern of un-English usage is
confined to An Essay on Criticism (e.g., 11. 35 and 169). Oddly this usage
seems to have been reserved by Pope exclusively for less formal writing, occur-
ring again in the Epistle to Arbuthnot and the First Satire of the Second Book
of Horace. The use of who for he who or whoever occurs in both E. on C.
(e.g., 1. 241) and E. on M. (e.g., IV, 59).


structions, also occur frequently. Even narrative is unusually con-
densed. In the Don Quixote episode in An Essay on Criticism
Pope tells a by no means simple tale involving intricate literary
theories, in the space of eighteen lines;3 for the story of Virgil and
his perusal of Homer he needs only nine. Condensation is clearly
one of the fundamental qualities of the two Essays.
Balance is the other. The balance in An Essay on Criticism and
An Essay on Man has been a source of disapprobation;4 and in An
Essay on Criticism it does at last become monotonous. But balance
is intrinsic to the two Essays in a way and to an extent that it is
not in any of Pope's other poems. In Eloisa to A belard, for ex-
ample, balance is constant, it is the material of which the poem
is made. Sometimes it is especially felicitous; more often it is
merely present, as the bricks of a house are present, to be accepted
because without the brick the house would not be there at all. But
the balance that is mere brick in Eloisa is in the Essays, as I shall
presently show, a skyscraper's structural steel.
So far, the two Essays are alike; but the balance of which they
are made is not quite the same balance, and it is integral for not
quite the same reasons. The balance in An Essay on Criticism is
for the most part exact, as it is in the other early poems; a balance
of phrase by phrase, hemistich by hemistich, line by line. Such
exactness is a reason for its eventual monotony. But it is intrinsic,
as it is not in the other early poems5 because the method of An
Essay on Criticism, in big and in little, is comparison, and, more
specifically, simile. And a tightly condensed development by simile
leads almost inevitably to balance.
Pope depends more upon comparison in An Essay on Criticism
and An Essay on Man than in any other of his poems. In his day

3. An additional means of condensation in this passage, as several other
times in the two Essays, is unintroduced direct quotation, allowing the quoted
words to speak for themselves (e.g., E. on C., 383-384).
4. E.g., Tillotson, p. 137, where he says that in the two Essays, "Pope is
using what amounts almost to a different kind of heroic couplet." Since this
statement appears during a discussion of balance, one may assume that it
concerns balance; and since elsewhere in his book (p. 160), Tillotson says that
Pope "should not be judged by" the two Essays, "though even in these works
the poetry has been underrated," one must assume that Tillotson does not like
the methods of the Essays.
5. Except The Rape of the Lock, where the rhetorical "brick" of the other
early poems is seen through the mirror of parody, and hence must be as it
is because the other poems are as they are.

there were two perfectly good reasons for this: first, didactic poems
were to be in the "middle" style, avoiding both the heroic high
and the satirical low, and were hence to be dignified but not elab-
orately adorned; second, the comparisons considered-and surely
properly considered-essential to illustrating and illuminating pre-
cepts and theories might adorn or amuse as well as instruct, might
appropriately provide the dulce as well as confirm the utile. As Dr.
Johnson was later to remark, it is only in the imagery that a didac-
tic poem can offer anything new.
An Essay on Criticism starts out with a comparison of two differ-
ent acts:
'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill. (1-2)
Then the effect of these acts in compared:
But, of the two, less dangerous is th'Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense. (3-4)
The frequency of the two acts in compared:
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss. (5-6)
Then comes a simile to illustrate and explain the prevalence of in-
dividualistic "judging" in a couplet with an unusual variant of
balance pattern:
'Tis with our Judgments as our Watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own. (9-10)6
This simile is then further developed. An implied analogy is drawn
from it, that since nearly everybody is prejudiced about watches,
critics are likely to be prejudiced about what they criticize; and,
further, that as pre-eminent poets are rare, so are pre-eminent
In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Taste as seldom is the Critick's Share. (11-12)
Here the balance is line by line, with the elements slightly rear-
ranged: a-b-c/b-c-a.
The simile of poet and critic is then clinched: each needs "light
from Heav'n" in order to be a "true" member of his profession;

6. Here the inaccurate rime may have a purpose in illustrating the failure
to "go alike."


and the relationship of "judging" and "writing" with which the
poem began is again made explicit:
Both must alike from Heav'n derive their Light,
These born to Judge, as well as those to Write. (13-14)
The relationship of judging and writing is then extended still
further: the writer should be the judge!
Let such teach others who themselves excell,
And censure freely who have written well. (15-16)
And this is the point to which the whole series of comparisons and
similes has been leading. It is the advice for which the argument
has prepared; and, as usual in the poem, this advice is in arrange-
ment neat, smooth, regular, balanced, and likely to be suitable for
fame as an aphorism. And then, rounding out the verse paragraph,
a reason is given for the advice, offering a still further comparison
of writers and judges:
Authors are partial to their Wit, 'tis true,
But are not Criticks to their Judgment too? (17-18)
But how very neat this is, and how condensed! The two ideas
of writing and judging are juggled with the greatest dexterity,
compared and recompared, compared to something extraneous, the
comparisons extended and re-extended, through closed couplet after
closed couplet. Words are compared, and phrases, and clauses, and
lines. And yet not only is the balance an integral part of the
method, not only do its neatness and aptness give it a share in the
wit of the lines, but also it is made various and positively sprightly
because of changes in the length and in the order of the balanced
elements; because of frequent enjambment within the couplets,
especially the strong run-on after the ninth line; because of the
lightness of the vowels and consonants; and particularly because,
in spite of the balance and the careful train of argument, the word
order and the tone are often astonishingly colloquial.
It is impractical, of course, to continue such a couplet-by-couplet
analysis throughout the poem. But one finds next, for instance, the
mind compared to a well-drawn sketch; and the mind ill-taught to
a well-drawn sketch ill-colored. This is used as the basis for ex-
plaining why those who cannot write often become critics. Those
who cannot even be critics are then compared to mules, and-in a
passage which is the first faint glimmering of such later satirical


portraits as that of Sporus-to insects:
Those half-learn'd Witlings, numerous in our Isle,
As half-form'd Insects on the Banks of Nile. (40-41)
Soon after, comes an explanation of mental limitations based on
the simile that all land cannot at once be dry; and then (in another
shift of simile) if we attempt to overcome that inevitable limitation,
Like Kings we lose the Conquests gain'd before,
By vain Ambition still to make them more. (64-65)
The pattern is becoming, as it must, slightly looser, and the couplets
more open, but the method is still the same. In one couplet the
simile will be almost casual:
For Wit and Judgment often are at strife,
Tho' meant each other's Aid, like Man and Wife. (82-83)
In the next, the simile has become metaphor, and the comparison
is inseparable from the meaning-yet the balance remains:
'Tis more to guide than spur the Muse's Steed;
Restrain his Fury, than provoke his Speed. (84-85)
Ancient Greece is then held up in some detail as an example of
cooperation between critic and poet; and we are shown what has
happened with that cooperation gone: critics nowadays are like
apothecaries (108-111), moths (113), cooks (115). And again the
Be Homer's Works your Study, and Delight,
Read them by Day, and meditate by Night. (124-125)
Then, presently, the comparison of poetry to music; the famous
Pegasus simile; and further illuminating similes, of precipices and
kings and law, of armies and altars and streams, to the end of the
first part of the poem-and with balance closely involved all the
The method continues through the remainder of the poem.
There is the "Pierian spring"; the long simile of the Alps which
Dr. Johnson thought probably the best in all English literature;8
the exemplum of "La Mancha's Knight"; loquacity like leaves;
7. The balance is especially frequent with verbs: besides the "judge-write"
pairs of 11. 1-18, there are prevails, fails; stoop, understand; feed, fills; guides,
sustains; guide, spur; restrain, provoke; discovered, devis'd; restrained, ordained;
repress, indulge; winn, woo'd; hate, learned; cavil, criticise; read, meditate; offend,
mend; nods, dream; glows, trembles; admire, doubt; and others.
8. Life of Pope, Lives of the English Poets, II, 218.

truth like the sun; false eloquence like a prism; conceits like a
clown; the "wounded snake" Alexandrine; narrowness of wit like
narrowness of religion; envy like the moon; unwarranted suspicion
like the yellow of jaundice; Appius like a tapestry tyrant; and a
good many more. Only in the third part, with its lengthy tour
through the history of criticism, does the balance undeniably grow
tiresome; and it is in the third part that the similes and other
comparisons are fewest, and the method therefore least organic.
And the third part is also least colloquial in tone.
Pope uses comparatively little ornament of sound in An Essay
on Criticism-in strong contrast to such poems as Windsor-Forest
and Eloisa to A belard-and, except for the illustrative representa-
tion in Part II, not even much representative meter. He rarely
supports the balance with alliteration; and when he does, it seems
in consequence especially emphatic:
Without all these at once before your Eyes,
Cavil you may, but never Criticize. (122-123)
Extremely unlike Eloisa, he uses only the fewest alliterative adjec-
tive-substantive combinations. "Lucky Licence" (148) and "con-
stant Critick" (416) are among the rare, almost casual instances;
and one famous couplet is given particular point by the sudden,
full-blown use of so very occasional a method:
The Bookful Blockhead, ignorantly read,
With Loads of Learned Lumber in his Head. (612-613)
It is the same with other types of alliteration. Lines like
Correctly cold, and regularly low, (240)
are scarce enough to make one believe that Pope not only seldom
sought alliteration in An Essay on Criticism but in general strove
actively to avoid it. And of assonance there is even less.
Such representative meter as exists beyond the special illustra-
tive kind in Part II is largely representation of motion, or is sa-
tirical; and it depends mainly upon meter, caesura, and enjamb-
ment, rather than sound patterns:
Which,/without passing thro' the Judgment,/gains
The Heart/, (156-157)
Where a new World leaps out at his command, (486)
The Memory's soft Figures melt away. (59)9
9. Note how completely the special "melting" quality of this line would


There is, of course, fine use of the polysyllable for satire:
Fear most to tax an Honourable Fool, (588)
And charitably let the Dull be vain. (597)
Rime, too, is used, and used well, for satire; and rime is one of
Pope's characteristic excellences in An Essay on Criticism (e.g., 11.
354-355, 416-417).10
One instance does occur of elaborate patterning and more com-
plex representative meter:
Moderns, beware Or if you must offend
m d n m ste nd
Against the Precept, ne'er transgress its End,
genstpsep tne t n s g e s tse nd
Let it be seldom, and compelled by Need,
1 e t s eld um um p eld n e d
And have, at least, Their Precedent to plead.
tlestep es d t t pled
The Critick else proceeds without Remorse.
t e 1 s p s e d s (163-167)
Here the stiff preciseness of the d's, t's, and p's, the short e's, the
obvious, clear-cut alliteration and assonance, and the regular, rapid
meter work as a sharp satirical thrust against the law.
Several examples occur of representative meter of the special
"sound-analysis" type. Sometimes, since there is no prominent
word or words on which to pin it, it is not yet quite in complete
Discharge that Rage on more Provoking Crimes,
Nor fear a Dearth in these Flagitious Times. (528-529)1

be lost if Memory were made to fill two half-feet instead of three, e.g.:
The Memory's softest figures melt away.
Yet confining such a word to two half-feet was overwhelmingly the normal
practice of Pope and his period, here abandoned for a special purpose.
10. See also p. 26, above. Good satirical rime likewise occurs in triplets
(11. 328-330), and in feminine rime (11. 442-443). But E. on C. has also numerous
instances of poor rime correspondence (e.g., 11. 139-140, 301-302, 588-589), and
not all its feminine rimes are successful (e.g., 11. 592-593).
11. Besides the prominent j sounds in discharge, rage, and flagitious, note the
closely related ch and sh sounds in the first and last of these words.



Sometimes it is in full flower:12

(tremendous, eye: t, r, e, m, e, n, s, i )
And stares, Tremendousl with a threatening Eye,
Like some fierce Tyrant in Old Tapestryl (586-587)
But these examples of ornament and representation are tiny islands
in oceans of speech not so elaborated; and Pope lets pass many
obvious opportunities for representation, notably the description
of climbing the Alps (11. 225-232) and at least one of the embryonic
satirical portraits (11. 414-423).1 If it seems strange that in a poem
noted for extolling representative meter there should be so little
of it, it should be remembered that continuous elaborate pattern-
ing and representation would be out of place in a didactic, col-
loquial, unimpassioned work. Balance, condensation, and compari-
son remained, as they almost surely should have, the primary
Balance, condensation, and comparison are the methods in An
Essay on Man too, but the balance is a different balance, and
springs from a somewhat different cause. In striking contrast to
the earlier Essay, Epistle I of An Essay on Man has no similes what-
ever. In it, and less frequently throughout the remainder of An
Essay on Man, the method of illustration (and of ornamentation)
is by examples from other links in the chain of being;14 and, since
Pope's desire is usually to point up the correspondence in some de-
tail, the comparison is likely to be extended to greater length than
in the earlier Essay. So, there is the lamb which illustrates a com-
plex proposition:
Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescribed, their present state;
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer Being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. (I, 77-84)

12. One of the finest examples from E. on C. has already been given on p.
33, above.
13. Two more of the embryonic portraits (11. 36-43 and 328-332) show some
evidence of satirical sound-patterning.
14. Cf. Parkin, p. 76.


Or the proposition may be clinched by a series of parallels from
the chain:
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove? (I, 39-42)
This method comes to a climax in Epistle I with the famous series
of comparisons of senses, including the potential "aromatic pain"
from the rose, and the fine touch of the spider; and, following
this, with the series of comparisons extending "from Infinite to
thee, from thee to Nothing," which occur toward the end of the
Epistle. Individual images in these passages rarely extend beyond
a single couplet; but the comparison usually runs through at least
four, and often through many more lines.
Epistle II also draws comparisons from the chain of being:
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot,
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot;
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless thro' the void,
Destroying others, by himself destroyed. (63-66)
But the emphasis here falls on the similes-and note that they are
similes-rather than on the parallel, and is hence more reminiscent
of An Essay on Criticism than of the first Epistle of An Essay on
Man. In the extended simile of the Alps in An Essay on Criticism,
the student is not parallel to the mountain-climber; the comparison
illuminates and has no further intention. In the comparison of the
lamb in Epistle I of An Essay on Man, on the other hand, the
comparison involves a parallel: man is to God as lamb is to man.
But in the passage just quoted from Epistle II, while the compari-
son is drawn from the chain of being, no true parallel is involved:
without Reason, man would not in actuality "flame lawless through
the void," nor is it the lack of Reason which causes a meteor to do
so. The comparison simply illuminates.
And throughout Epistle II, the method is for the most part
simile (and metaphor) as in An Essay on Criticism: there are more
than a dozen actual similes in Epistle II and a good many more
metaphors. Some of them, like most in An Essay on Criticism, are
In Folly's cup still laughs the bubble, joy; (288)



In lazy Apathy let Stoics boast
Their Virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost. (101-102)
The idea of light and darkness, on the other hand, continues
through fourteen lines (203-216); and even the "Ask where's the
North?" analogy, which in tone and idea resembles the two-line
comparison of watches in An Essay on Criticism, extends through
nine (222-230).
In the last two Epistles, the methods are more equally balanced:
a good many illustrations from the chain appear, but fewer than
in Epistle I; some similes, but not nearly so many as in Epistle II.
But the comparisons are still likely to be considerably longer than
those in An Essay on Criticism. And as is justified by the more
serious material and tone, the comparisons throughout An Essay
on Man are more often than in the earlier Essay "ennobling" (as
Dr. Johnson put it) in addition to being illustrative.15
But as the comparisons in An Essay on Man are different, so is
the balance. As the comparisons are often more extended and less
neat, so is the balance more complex, more varied, and less exactly
balanced than that in An Essay on Criticism. (And hence, too, An
Essay on Man has many more open couplet sequences than its
predecessor.) The balancing elements may be in the last line of
one couplet and the first of the next:
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns, (I, 275-277)
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. (II, 7-9)
Among the extremely various uses of word repetition, one kind
especially characteristic of An Essay on Man is repetition of key
words with shifts in form, context, grammar, or connotation:16
Re-judge his justice, be the God of God! (I, 122)
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength,
(II, 136)

15. E.g., III, 285-295; IV, 7-16. Some images do sound very like E. on C.,
But honest Instinct comes a volunteer, (III, 88)
Who bid the stork, Columbus-like, explore. (III, 105)
16. Most of these examples fall under the technical rhetorical heading of

See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life dissolving vegetate again. (III, 15-16)
And especially the arrangement of balancing elements may be
very complicated:17
(a) (b) (b) (c)
Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
(c) (d) (d)
Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains,
(e) (a) (f) (f)
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
(e) (a)
Like Socrates, that Man is great indeed! (IV, 233-236)
In longer passages, arrangements may become even more complex
(a) (a) (a)
See, thro' this air, this ocean, and this earth,
(b) (b)
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
(c) (d) (e)
A above, how high progressive life may go!
(c) (d) (d) (e) (c)
Around, how wide! how deep extend below!
(ABCDEF...) (A)
Vast chain of being, which from God began,
(B) (C) (B) (C)
Natures aethereal, human, angel, man,
(D) (E) (F) (G) (H) (f) (g) (h) (i)
Beast, bird, fish, insect what no eye can see,
(f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (A) (k) (C)
No glass can reach; from Infinite to thee,
(j) (C)(k) (H) (1) (AB)
From thee to Nothing!-On superior pow'rs
(C) (m) (DEFGH) (m) (1) (C)
Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
(BCDEF...) (m)
Or in the full creation leave a void,
(B or Cor...) (n) (ABCDEF...) (n)
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroyed:
(ABCDEF...) (B or C or...) (n)
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,

17. Far more so indeed than the examples offered by Tillotson (p. 128).

(B* or C* or...) (B** or C** or...) (n) (ABCDEF ...)
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
(I, 233-246)
Clearly this elaboration of arrangement of balanced elements goes
far beyond anything in An Essay on Criticism.
Besides the methods of balance and repetition, Pope uses two
other rhetorical devices especially frequently in An Essay on Man:
exclamation and interrogation. Exclamation needs no re-examining.
It is as common as in the Messiah, in the heightened passages
of Windsor-Forest, in Eloisa to Abelard, for similar reasons and
with much the same result. Interrogation is another matter. If
the tone of any poem of Pope's is affected by a rhetorical device not
involving balance, An Essay on Man's tone is affected by its ques-
tions. In Epistle I alone there are nearly thirty, in Epistle IV
nearly fifty. Many of them are scornful:
All this dread Order break-for whom? for thee? (I, 257)
Oh sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies? (IV, 73-74)
Sometimes they are placed in the mouth of "man" in order to be
"Why bounded Pow'r? why private? why no king?"
Nay, why external for internal giv'n?
Why is not Man a God, and Earth a Heav'n?
Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive
God gives enough, while he has more to give. (IV, 160-164)
More frequently they are rhetorical in the narrow sense, directing
their own implicit answer:
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy Reason, would he skip and play? (I, 81-82)
Occasionally, however, they are asked in order to be answered:
Why has not Man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, Man is not a Fly. (I, 193-194)
The device seems overdone, though many of the individual ques-
tions are effective, and interrogation is a proper rhetorical device
in a philosophical poem. The issue is whether or not, by calling
attention to method and away from meaning, the abundance of
questions may not contribute to a sameness of tone, and a decrease
in force. Interrogation in An Essay on Man stands with exclama-


tion in Eloisa to Abelard among the very few instances in which
Pope's judgment did not altogether preclude excess.
Pope's use of alliteration, assonance, and representative meter in
An Essay on Man resembles that in An Essay on Criticism but is
not quite so restricted. The long section of Epistle I concerned
with the comparative keenness of the senses is almost as famous
for its representation as the section of illustrative representation
in the earlier Essay. There is the grotesqueness of
How Instinct varies in the grov'ling swine,
Compared, half-reas'ning elephant, with thine. (I, 221-222)
There is the delicate rhythm and music of
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er. (I, 197)
And there is the sensitive accuracy and patterning of
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line. (I, 217-218)
Some very elaborate sound arrangements occur:
Far as Creation's ample range extends,
ash n m p a n e e n
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends:
sas e n shme n p s e n
Mark how it mounts, to Man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass:
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
modi t twixte widx tem
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam.
mo d m t i x e m (I, 207-212)
Like An Essay on Criticism, An Essay on Man includes several in-
stances of "word-analysis" representation; one excellent example, a
reminder of the other very different poems being written at the time
of An Essay on Man, is
(politic, sly: p, 1, t, S, k, s, i )
No less alike the Politic and Wise,
All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes. (IV, 225-226)



As in An Essay on Criticism, Pope uses caesura,"s enjambment, and
polysyllables well, and rime, including feminine rime,"9 both well
(though not nearly so often for satire) and badly, committing more
bad rimes than in any other major poem. And as in An Essay on
Criticism, he passes over numerous opportunities for representa-
tion, for example the "lamb" and "poor Indian" passages in Epistle
I, and the piling on of mountains in Epistle IV.
The tone of the poem is much more formal than that of the
earlier Essay. There is considerably more inversion; few lines are
colloquial in tone; and several heightened passages are of great
intensity. Accordingly, caesuras appear later in the line somewhat
more frequently, and in the heightened passages much more fre-
quently.20 Accordingly, too, the quality of vowels and consonants
is darker. The poem often flows powerfully through a long series
of open couplets. And the tone is varied more widely than in An
Essay on Criticism. The "poor Indian" passage, for instance, is
quiet with a regular, light beat, while the passage ending with
the following lines has an increasing loudness, heaviness of beat,
and swiftness of movement that is almost dizzying:
Let ruling Angels from their spheres be hurl'd,
Being on being wreck'd, and world on world,
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod,
And Nature tremble to the throne of God. (I, 253-256)
Such passages have a power equalled nowhere else in Pope except
in The Dunciad, an emotional depth which only the close of The
Dunciad can match.
Pope also composes in An Essay on Man-as occasionally in An
Essay on Criticism but much more frequently in his later career-
many neat, accurate, "right" lines which illustrate no one skill
but have that quality of inevitability which marks the fine artist
and is "beyond the reach of art" to analyze:
18. E.g.:
Created half to rise,/and half to fall, (II, 15)
And turn'd on Man a fiercer savage,/Man. (III, 168)
19. Including one of the best and best-known in Pope:
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards. (IV, 215-216)
Bad feminine rimes occur at IV, 203-204, and IV, 277-278.
20. My reading of E. on M., Epistle I, shows 43 per cent of the caesuras to
come after the 4th syllable or earlier, whereas in six of the "heightened" pas-
sages in the poem (I, 85-90, 113-130, 247-258, 267-280, 289-294, and II, 3-18), only
26 per cent after the 4th syllable or earlier. Count after 6th syllable or later:
Epistle I, 23% per cent; "heightened" passages, 36 per cent.


And Passions are the elements of Life, (I, 170)
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot, (II, 64)
To welcome death, and calmly pass away, (II, 260)
Entangle Justice in her net of Law, (III, 192)
Because he wants a thousand pounds a year. (IV, 192)
These are in addition to the many aphorisms which have become
a part of the language.
In summary then, An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man
are similar in their use of condensation, balance, and comparison,
in infrequency of sound patterning and representation, and in
various aspects of meter. But, while both are in the middle style,
the materials are quite different. And hence it is not surprising,
on the basis of Pope's often-voiced creed that style must match
subject matter not only from poem to poem but within a poem,
that the comparisons in the two Essays are different comparisons
and the balance a different balance; and moreover that the one
poem is often colloquial in its diction, simple in its rhetoric, cool,
witty, light in tone color, lacking in flow, while the other is usually
dignified in its diction, often complex in its rhetoric, frequently
sonorous, occasionally impassioned, with long, open verse-para-
graphs of almost Miltonic flow. The purpose was didactic in both,
but the materials were dissimilar; nor would Pope have been the
man to forget that, while Horace is the progenitor of An Essay on
Criticism, he is only the co-progenitor, with Lucretius, of An Essay
on Man.21

In technique and tone, Pope's Moral Essays22 represent a tran-
sition from An Essay on Man to the Horatian satires and epistles.

21. See Reuben A. Brower, Alexander Pope: the Poetry of Allusion (Ox-
ford, The Clarendon Press, 1959), pp. 207, 216-217.
22. Tw. (III, ii, xxxvi-xxxvii) offers cogent reasons why the alternate title
for these poems, Epistles to Several Persons, is better. I call them Moral Essays
purely for reasons of convenience: to connect them with An Essay on Man, with
which the same passage in Tw. says they are to be associated, and to differenti-
ate them from the imitations of Horatian satires and epistles. Tw. also points
out quite properly that the Moral Essays resemble Horatian epistles; but they
do not resemble Horatian epistles as closely as the Epistle to Arbuthnot and
the Epilogue to the Satires do; and even the second Moral Essay, which most
nearly resembles Arbuthnot, the Epilogue, and the Horatian imitations, is like
the other Moral Essays in dealing with the ruling passions (as the major
Horatian poems do not), is less Horatian in its subject matter generally than



The third Essay, that to Bathurst, with its serious tone and many
questions, resembles An Essay on Man most nearly. The portraits
and stories, its most memorable feature, do not much resemble
the portraits in the other Moral Essays, being long and grave with
the late caesuras for heightened passages,23 and the flow, and at
least something of the complex balance and the formality of An
Essay on Man; and even the uncomplimentary portraits do not have
the concentration and the representative ugliness of many in the
other Essays and in the Horatian satires. But the third Moral Essay
opens as colloquially and casually as any of the satires:
Who shall decide, when Doctors disagree,
And soundest Casuists doubt, like you and me? (1-2)
Like An Essay on Man, it has very little representative meter; but
it has the rather frequent alliteration on balanced parts which is
typical of Pope in general but relatively infrequent in An Essay on
Statesman and Patriot ply alike the stocks,
Peeress and Butler share alike the Box,
And Judges job, and Bishops bite the town. (141-143)
As in An Essay on Man, Pope uses very unusual anaphora:
Cutler saw tenants break, and houses fall,
For very want; he could not build a wall.
His only daughter in a stranger's power,
For very want; he could not pay a dow'r. (323-326)
But in spite of a casual power of line and phrase, the tone is
quieter than An Essay on Man's, and the serious passages become
neither overwrought on the one hand nor sublime on the other.

the Horatian group, and is unlike the Horatian group in certain technical
aspects, having, for example, far fewer monosyllables and verbs than the four
major Horatian poems, and resembling them, where it does, where they are
less typical and more formal (the Epistle to Augustus and the Epilogue) rather
than the reverse (Arbuthnot and the First Satire of the Second Book), Also
Moral Essays, I and II, are almost identical in their caesural pattern. At any
rate, this study demonstrates that the Moral Essays are transitional prosodically
between An Essay on Man and the Horatian group. (Chronologically, the pat-
tern is, of course, far from neat: see the chronology in Tw., and the discussion
in Sherburn, Best of Pope, pp. 420 ff.)
23. The story of Sir Balaam has 24 per cent sixth-place caesuras. In contrast,
even the heightened passage of the first Moral Essay, 174-209, has only 6 per


Nevertheless, quieter, less formal, less complex though it is, the
third Moral Essay is the closest to An Essay on Man of any poem
in the group.
Next must be placed the fourth Moral Essay, that to Burlington.
It moves toward the satires in being more personal, and hence more
colloquial. It is more mocking in its satire than the third, and has
indeed more satire; and-like An Essay on Criticism in that and in
this-it has fewer fine passages than An Essay on Man, but a good
many fine lines:
Think we all these are for himself? no more
Than his fine Wife, alasi or finer Whore, (11-12)
Blushing in bright diversities of day. (84)
It has somewhat more representative meter than the third, but on
the other hand not as much alliteration or assonance. It has fewer
questions, little pathos or intensity, but on the other hand it has
no portraits. It is closer to the satires, then, in general tone, but
not much closer in detail.
The first Moral Essay, that to Cobham, moves considerably fur-
ther toward the satires, even though in subject matter it is of the
four most like An Essay on Man. Excepting the Sir Balaam story
in the third Essay, the first displays a more brilliant versification
than either the third or the fourth. It has a passage of considerable
intensity in the lines beginning
Search then the Ruling Passion: There, alone,
The Wild are constant, and the Cunning known. (174-175)
But the intensity and the anger recall An Essay on Man less than
they anticipate the Epilogue to the Satires, with its
Hear her black Trumpet thro' the Land proclaim,
That "Not to be corrupted is the Shame." (I, 159-160)
The first Essay has many questions, but they are calmer than An
Essay on Man's, more varied, and more artful:
Is he a Churchman? then he's fond of pow'r:
A Quaker? sly: A Presbyterian? sow'r:
A smart Free-thinker? all things in an hour. (107-109)
It has, like the third Essay (and also the second), a casual begin-
ning; and its general tone is quieter, more of discussion than lec-
ture, with a lighter quality of sound. It is notably condensed-
its stories are even more amazingly compact than those in An Essay



on Criticism; and it combines the examples of An Essay on Man
with comparisons reminiscent of An Essay on Criticism:
Nature well known, no prodigies remain,
Comets are regular, and Wharton plain, (208-209)
and of An Essay on Man:
Tho' the same Sun with all-diffusive rays
Blush in the Rose, and in the Diamond blaze,
We prize the stronger effort of his pow'r,
And justly set the Gem above the Flow'r. (97-100)
Being largely made up of brief portraits and examples of ruling
passions, it has little of An Essay on Man's openness of couplet
Alliteration, assonance, and repetition of sounds in general rise
considerably above any of the poems so far examined in this
The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave,
That from his cage cries Cuckold, Whore, and Knave, (5-6)
Perhaps Prosperity becalm'd his breast, (63)
When universal homage Umbra pays,
All see 'tis Vice, and itch of vulgar praise. (118-119)
Alliteration of adjective and substantive notably reappears; for
example, varying vein (16); flat Falshood (126); perjur'd Prince
(148); charming Chintz (244). There are several instances of
special representation:
(sneaks: s, n, e, k)
Will sneaks a Scriv'ner, an exceeding knave, (106)
(hates, Shylock: h, t, sh (ch), i,, o, k)
And ev'ry child hates Shylock, tho' his soul
Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole. (114-115)
But other representative meter is still infrequent, and there is little
or no ornamental patterning. Rime is used excellently for satire;
and the closing series of portraits, with the directly quoted speech
of the satirized, are as colloquial as anything in Pope.
Yet, besides the questions, the examples, and the one passage of
some intensity, other reminders of An Essay on Man still remain.
Balance breaks across line and couplet:
Who would not praise Patritio's high desert,
His hand unstain'd, his uncorrupted heart,


His comprehensive head! (140-142)
Wise, if a Minister; but, if a King,
More wise. (91-92)
Unusual anaphora and polyptoton appear:
Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind ....
Who combats bravely is not therefore brave....
Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise, (62, 67, 69)
Ask why from Britain Caesar would retreat?
Caesar himself might whisper he was beat.
Why risk the world's great empire for a Punk?
Caesar perhaps might answer he was drunk, (81-84)
And most contemptible, to shun contempt. (195)
And, as in all the Moral Essays, Pope creates lines of casual power:
A bird of passage gone as soon as found, (156)
And wanting nothing but an honest heart. (193)
The second Moral Essay is of the four the most mockingly sa-
tirical, the most colloquial, the least of all like An Essay on Man,
of which almost nothing is left. The second Moral Essay is a sort
of Rape of the Lock, with malice and informality put in and
story and epic machinery left out. It is light-weight, it is alliterative,
it is quick, it has the most brilliant rimes (including feminines)
and polysyllables, the most wittily malicious representative meter.
Some passages might have been lifted straight out of The Rape
of the Lock; for example, the deliberate oversweetness of
Or drest in smiles of sweet Cecilia shine,
With simp'ring Angels, Palms, and Harps divine; (13-14)
the light vowels, delicate pauses, and breathless parentheses of
Come then, the colours and the ground prepare!
Dip in the Rainbow, trick her off in Air,
Chuse a firm Cloud, before it fall, and in it
Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute; (17-20)
the prominently placed insignificant simile and the casual allitera-
tion of
Ladies, like variegated Tulips, show,
'Tis to their Changes half their charms we owe; (41-42)
and the bathos, resulting from the overexact meter, the alliteration,
the trisyllables, the repetition, applied to an inadequate cause, of



A Park is purchased, but the Fair he sees
All bath'd in tears-"Oh odious, odious Trees!" (39-40)
But other brilliance are of another kind. The Rape of the Lock
was never so deliciously colloquial as
Whether the Charmer sinner it, or saint it,
If Folly grows romantic, I must paint it. (15-16)24
It had not quite the same careless-seeming yet perfect use of the
polysyllable as in
Let then the Fair one beautifully cry, (11)
So these their merry, miserable Night. (240)
It had not the purposeful ugliness (as in the late satires) of
As Sappho's diamonds with her dirty smock,
Or Sappho at her toilet's greazy task,
With Sappho fragrant at an evening Mask:
So morning Insects that in muck begun,
Shine, buzz, and fly-blow in the setting-sun. (24-28)
It had not the combination of light regular meter, perfect rime, and
utterly repugnant idea which makes the following couplet so
memorable-and so reminiscent of Swift:
Narcissa's nature, tolerably mild,
To make a wash, would hardly stew a child. (53-54)
The longer central portraits-Flavia, Atossa, Chloe, and so on-
are very like the portraits in the Epistle to Arbuthnot. And the
close of the poem, with its praise of Martha Blount, turns, as so
often in Pope, personal and quiet, though this time never quite
losing a certain mockery-it might almost be called whimsy-which
appears not only in the words, but also in the caesuras, the balance,
the rime.
The poem is the most distinctive of the Moral Essays. Women,
says Pope, are light-weight and given dazzlingly to change. The
versification is likewise. Except perhaps in the portraits of Philo-
mede and Atossa, one never forgets that the poem represents con-
versation not only about women, but with a woman. One would
be hard put to it to match it for light, knowing, scintillating, con-
centrated gossip.

24. Which is, so to speak, the feminine gender of "Fools rush into my head,
and so I write" (First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, 14).


pope's greatest achievement in versification is very likely the
combination of a concentrated brilliance of statement and of
special metrical effect, with a colloquial tone. In real life, of
course, no one ever spoke so well, every word in place, every word
not only mot just but mot just inattendu. In real life, the
wittiest conversationalist often only approximates what he intended
to say-and the wittiest conversationalist is not always at his wit-
tiest. The artist must make dull speech interesting, and intelligent
speech brilliant, or we shall not enjoy it. He must give it that
Protean quality, verisimilitude, or we shall reject it, as stiff or
strained, sentimental or ranting, out of character or out of style
or out of place. Iambic pentameter, rimed, does not make the
task easier. Yet it is in the satires and epistles that Pope's verse
form most truly justifies itself. It is just possible to conceive of
The Dunciad in blank verse or Eloisa to Abelard in rime royal.
But the satires display such a triumphant wedding of form to mat-
ter, such a complete bending of means to requirements, that that
fact itself is no small part of the pleasure.
My examination of Pope's Horatian satires and epistles concen-
trates on the four major poems: The Epistle to Arbuthnot, the
First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, the Epistle to Augustus
(First Epistle of the Second Book of Horace), and the Epilogue to
the Satires. The others certainly have good lines:
The modern language of corrupted Peers,
(First Epistle of the First Book, 99)
Faith I shall give the answer Reynard gave,
"I cannot like, Dread Sirl your Royal Cave;
"Because I see by all the Tracks about,
"Full many a Beast goes in, but none comes out,"
(First Epistle of the First Book, 114-117)
Rank as the ripeness of a Rabbit's tail,
(Second Satire of the Second Book, 28)
Still, still be getting, never, never rest,
(Sixth Epistle of the First Book, 96)
And much too wise to walk into a Well.
(Second Epistle of the Second Book, 191)



One source, but by no means a complete explanation, of the con-
versational quality of the Horatian poems is the frequency of mono-
syllables and monosyllabic lines; and this is particularly true of
Arbuthnot and the First Satire of the Second Book, the most in-
formal of the four poems.' Arbuthnot especially uses monosyllabic
lines with variety and skill:
If Foes, they write, if Friends, they read me dead, (32)
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms, (170)
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be? (213)
Wit that can creep, and Pride that licks the dust. (333)
Another source of the conversational tone is the normal word
order.2 In Arbuthnot, even such a set piece as the Sporus portrait
has only five inversions in its twenty-five lines (in 11. 311, 312, 315,
317, 330),3 none violent and two quite evidently for emphasis:
Yet WIT ne'er tastes, and BEAUTY ne'er enjoys, (312)
Eve's Tempter thus the Rabbins have exprest. (330)
And the Atticus portrait, probably the most formal part of the
poem, has only two (11. 207 and 211), each tucked in almost un-
noticeably amid the straightforward English idiom.
Another contribution to the conversational quality is the infre-
quency of polysyllables: hardly more than half a dozen in the en-
tire 419 lines of Arbuthnot.4 As well as Pope knew how to use
polysyllables for satire, even the Sporus portrait contains only one
(And he himself one vile Antithesis, 1. 325), and three of the
others are in the personal, quite unmocking last part of the poem.
In Arbuthnot, Pope's increasing skill at allowing the sense to

1. Monosyllables per line: Arbuthnot, 6.37; First Satire, 6.33; Epilogue,
6.22; Augustus (the most formal), 5.98. The relatively informal second Moral
Essay, surprisingly, has only 5.56. But contrast the Horatian poems with
Windsor-Forest (5.63), Messiah (5.64), E. on C. (5.70), Dunciad (5.71).
Monosyllabic lines: Arbuthnot, 8 per cent; First Satire, 6 per cent; Epilogue,
5 per cent; Augustus, 4 per cent; Dunciad, 2 per cent; E. on M., 4 per cent. Pre-
1717 poems, all below 4 per cent, except Unfortunate Lady (6 per cent) and
Eloisa (8 per cent), both monologues.
2. See the long passage from the First Satire of the Second Book, quoted on
p. 22, above.
3. Possibly 1. 307 should be added, but this slight abnormality could occur
in conversation and sounds conversational.
4. Arbuthnot, in 2 per cent of the lines; First Satire, 2% per cent; Augustus,
3 per cent. The figure for Epilogue, on the other hand, is high (5 per cent),
equalled only by Eloisa, E. on M., and the second Moral Essay, and exceeded
only by the first Moral Essay (7 per cent).


guide the meter also adds to the colloquial effect. The following
line, for example, taken by itself seems to be perfectly regular
iambic pentameter except for the light third foot:
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain. (21)
But when the line is placed in context, the sense requires an initial
Is there a Parson, much be-mus'd in Beer,
A maudlin Poetess, a ryming Peer,
A Clerk, foredoom'd his Father's soul to cross,
Who pens a Stanza when he should engross?
Is there, who lock'd from Ink and Paper, scrawls
With desperate Charcoal round his darkened walls?
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain. (15-22)
An especially colloquial phrase may affect the meter:
Arthur, whose giddy Son neglects the Laws,
Imputes to-me-and-my-DAMN'D WORKS the cause, (23-24)
I wish'd the man a dinner, and SATE STILL. (152)
Parallelism or antithesis may also vary the emphasis:
Seiz'd and ty'd down to judge, how wretched II
Who CAN'T be silent, and who WILL not lye, (33-34)
A Lash like mine no HONEST man shall dread,
But all such BABLING BLOCKHEADS in his stead. (303-304)
The opening of Arbuthnot is itself the most colloquial of any
in Pope, and throughout are lines so informal as to approach the
The Creature's at his dirty work again, (92)
But wonder how the Devil they got there? (172)
To fetch and carry Sing-song up and down. (226)
As usual in these poems the direct quotations within what is itself
dialogue are particularly natural:
"The Piece you think is incorrect: why take it,
"I'm all submission, what you'd have it, make it," (45-46)
"I found him close with Swift"-"Indeed? no doubt"
(Cries prating Balbus) "something will come out." (275-276)



Many lines are run-on, adding to the informal effect; and on the
other hand, except in the satirical portraits and in the passages of
rising indignation and self-defense toward the end, Pope uses no
long series of open couplets. He seems to have considered the
deeper flow of such passages ill-suited to conversational tone, and
it is of course true that most actual speech falls into comparatively
brief segments.
Another contribution to the colloquial tone is the mechanism of
dialogue itself. If Arbuthnot speaks, it is nearly always by inter-
rupting Pope in mid-sentence; and Pope usually interrupts him
Still Sapho-"Hold! for God-sake-you'll offend:
"No Names-be calm-learn Prudence of a Friend:
"I too could write, and I am twice as tall,
"But Foes like these!"-One Flatt'rer's worse than all. (101-104)
Feminine rimes, as usual in Pope, are an indication of infor-
mality, and they seem especially conversational when they consist
of two words, as in lines 45-46, quoted in a recent paragraph.5 In-
deed, rimes in general, which might seem a hindrance to the
effect of speech, are often an actual benefit, in pointing up the
normality of the rime word and the word order:
Then from the Mint walks forth the Man of Ryme,
Happy! to catch me, just at Dinner-time, (13-14)
Pitholeon sends to me: "You know his Grace,
"I want a Patron; ask him for a Place."
Pitholeon libell'd me-"but here's a Letter
"Informs you Sir, 'twas when he knew no better. (49-52)
Many such instances occur in passages quoted earlier.
And the questions and exclamations with which the Epistle to
Arbuthnot is peppered have a quite different effect from those in
An Essay on Man or Eloisa to Abelard. Often casual, brief, play-
ful, mock-petulant, they contribute much to the effect of reality.
Conversation is not all statement. Especially in such a conversa-
tion as this one, in which a man presents a problem to a friend,
and the problem is both serious and comic, the rueful query, "What

5. All four of the major Horatian poems have feminine rimes. The finest
is probably in Arbuthnot:
And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning. (185-186)

can I do?" repeated in twenty different ways, is exceedingly natural;
and frequent exclamation is certainly not unexpected. The friend,
also, ought to ask questions. And parenthesis too, which occurs
rather often, is entirely normal in conversation:
Poor guiltless II and can I chuse but smile,
When ev'ry Coxcomb knows me by my Style? (281-282)
Let Sporus tremble-"What? that Thing of silk,
"Sporus, that mere white Curd of Ass's milk?
"Satire or Sense alas! can Sporus feel?
"Who breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel?" (305-308)
Has Life no Joys for me? or (to be grave)
Have I no Friend to serve, no Soul to save? (273-274)
And finally, quite apart from special demands of emphasis and
meter, the significance of the words often guides tonal pattern and
changes in speed, and in an especially colloquial direction. No
two people will read a poem with quite the same intonations, but
seldom is the way pointed so clearly as at times in Pope's satires;
and in such a passage as the following, variations in pitch from
reader to reader will probably be a good deal fewer than ordi-
Go on, obliging Creatures, make me see
All that disgrac'd my Betters, met in me:
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
"Just so immortal Maro held his head:"
And when I die, be sure you let me know
Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago. (119-124)
Yet along with the colloquial tone, Pope achieves tremendous
concentration in Arbuthnot. Consider the detail of occurrence and
attitude packed colloquiallyy) into just one couplet:
If I dislike it, "Furies, death and ragel"
If I approve, "Commend it to the Stage." (57-58)
The latter part of the story of Midas is told with ease and humor
in four lines (69-72). A complete tribute to Gay, with its own
appropriate tone, is managed gracefully in six (255-260). There
is some zeugma, but not a great deal; some foreign usage for con-
densation, but not a great deal. The abundance of verbs helps
(1.39 per line); and one is forced to conclude that the principal
method of condensation in Arbuthnot is its extremely accurate use
of words generally, and of verbs in particular. Fine verbs are a
special excellence of the Atticus portrait:



Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike. (204)
But elsewhere too they are especially apt:
They rave, recite, and madden round the land, (6)
Now trips a Lady, and now struts a Lord. (329)
Of rhetoric, two types attract special attention in Arbuthnot.
The first is word repetition in various forms, often notably felici-
'Tis sung, when Midas' Ears began to spring,
(Midas, a sacred Person and a King), (69-70)
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer, (202)
The Coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit. (345)
The other is anticlimax (and occasionally climax):
Poor Cornus sees his frantic Wife elope,
And curses Wit, and Poetry, and Pope, (25-26)
Three things another's modest wishes bound,
My Friendship, and a Prologue, and ten Pound, (47-48)
To help me thro' this long Disease, my Life. (132)
Anticlimax is also achieved by the use of sounds:
Lull'd by soft Zephyrs thro' the broken Pane. (42)
Here the smooth continuants of the first half-line are suddenly
"broken" by the explosives of the last half; and the sound as well
as the sense informs us that the "soft Zephyrs" are ironical.6
In repetition of sound, the poem has all the usual uses of alliter-
ation and assonance, casual and rhetorical, which have become
familiar; not by any means as frequently as in, say, Eloisa to Abe-
lard, but nevertheless frequently.7 Certain sounds-s, p, b, f, short
i-occur notably often for satirical effect:
Who shames a Scribler? break one cobweb thro',
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew;
Destroy his Fib, or Sophistry; in vain, (89-91)
The Bard whom pilfered Pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian Tale for half a crown,
Just writes to makes his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a-year, (179-182)

6. Other excellent examples are in 11. 93-94 and 164.
7. Examples of adjective-substantive alliteration: dire Dilemma (31), sad
Civility (37), furious fret (153), pilf'red Pastorals (179), fair Fame (194), foolish
face (212), hundred Hawkers (217), babling blockheads (304).

Proud, as Apollo on his forked hill,
Sate full-blown Bufo, puff'd by ev'ry quill;
Fed with soft Dedication all day long. (231-233)
This technique is especially noteworthy in the portrait of Sporus;
and since this portrait and that of Atticus are probably the most
famous in Pope, they deserve special examination. That of Atticus
has little repetition of sound or representative meter of any kind.
The style is somewhat raised by a steady flow, more open couplets,8
more resonant sound. A little alliteration is used to point up
phrases and parallels:
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike. (203-204)
In one passage t's and short i's are employed to express littleness
and stiff, legalistic precision:
Like Cato, give his little Senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause. (209-210)
Otherwise the effect of the portrait, so far as versification goes, is in
the comparative largeness of tone, which gives the impression that
the man himself is not ignoble. Two lines beyond the Atticus por-
trait occurs the line,
Or plaister'd posts, with Claps in capitals. (216)
It is surely plain that such a deliberately ugly line would have been
completely out of place in the portrait.
On the other hand, probably nothing in all Pope is uglier than
the portrait of Sporus. A good many f's and p's occur in connection
with unpleasant words, including two of the three definite in-
stances of alliteration:
In Puns, or Politicks, or Tales, or Lyes, (321)
Fop at the Toilet, Flatt'rer at the Board. (328)
Another contribution is the obvious and ugly sound repetition of
This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings. (310)
Beginning with line 314 and the word mumbling, the sound m-

8. The whole twenty-two lines of the portrait are a single sentence. (See
Root, p. 47.) The portion from the middle of 1. 193 to the end of 1. 212 consists
of two subjunctive clauses, dependent upon the questions in the last two lines
(213-214). This fact is obscured by the grammatically impossible period following
1. 212 in Tw., which follows the 1st edition.

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