ALEXANDER POPE(1688 – 1744 )

Pope was born in London, the only son of a considerable city tradesman. From his birth two conditions were to influence very deeply the career of the future poet: first, he was puny and delicate, and, secondly, he was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith. His bodily infirmity,which amounted almost to deformity, caused him to be privately educated; and to the end of his life his knowledge had that extensive range, joined to the liability to make the grossest blunders, which is so often the mark of an eager and precocious intelligence imperfectly trained. Pope’s religious faith, though was never excessively devout as a Roman Catholic, closed to him all the careers, professional, and political, in which a man of his keen intelligence might have been expected to succeed. He was thus forced into the pursuit of letters as his only road to fame. From his earliest youth we find him passionately desirous of making his name as an author. Pope’s earliest important work was his Pastorals. These poems, almost certainly written before he was 18, were published in 1709. In 1712 was published the first version of ” The Rape of the Lock,” one of the most brilliant poems in the language. In 1714 Pope added the machinery of the sylphs to the original version. By this time Pope was well known, and he set about his ambitious scheme of translating the Iliad, which was completed in 1720. The years 1733 to 1737 mark Pope’s last important period of production. In them appeared his Imitations of Horace, in which, using the Latin satirist as his model, Pope launched his attacks in a series of poetical epistles on the greed and corruption of his day. His famous Prologue to the Satires, better known by its other title, Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot (1735), contains some of his most brilliant and finished work.

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