Author: Alexander Pope.
Genre: Literature, poetry.
Publication Date: May 2nd, 1709. (Written in 1704).
Summary: In the typical pastoral style, these poems, completed when the author was 16 and being his earliest published work, Pope evolves a theory of the relationship between nature and art.
My rating: 7.5/10
My review: To be completely honest, these poems are just as cheesy, melodramatic, and over the top as you would expect from a teenage boy trying very hard to fit a stylistic format while portraying his have-or-die conception of love. What does make the poems stand out is that regardless of them being as tripey as they are, you can feel the incredible potential of the author, even as you're flinching as you remember how at sixteen you, too, were willing to throw yourself off a cliff for someone whose name you now cannot even recall. While the subject matter and its melodrama makes it hard to take the work seriously, Pope's command of the language is already impressive and capable of leaving a lasting impression. The poems possess easily recognizable seeds that come to development in Pope's later work and blossom into the astute, eloquent, clever and hilarious author Pope grew up to become.
♥ Accept, O Garth, the Muse's early lays,
That adds this wreath of Ivy to thy Bays;
Hear what from Love unpractised hearts endure,
From Love, the sole disease thou canst not cure.
♥ The harmless grove no lurking viper hides,
But in my breast the serpent Love abides.
Here bees from blossoms sip the rosy dew,
But your Alexis knows no sweets but you.
Oh deign to visit our forsaken seats,
The mossy fountains, and the green retreats!
Were'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade,
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade:
Were'er you tread, the blushing flowers shall rise,
And all things flourish where you turn your eyes.
Oh! how I long with you to pass my days,
Invoke the Muses, and resound your praise!
Your praise the birds shall chant in every grove,
And winds shall waft it to the powers above.
But would you sing, and rival Orpheus' strain,
The wondering forests soon should dance again,
The moving mountains hear the powerful call,
And headlong streams hang listening in their fall!
But see, the shepherds shun the noonday heat,
The lowing herds to murmuring brooks retreat,
To closer shades the panting clocks remove;
Ye Gods! and is there no relief for Love?
But soon the sun with milder rays descends
To the cool ocean, where his journey ends:
On me love's fiercer flames for ever prey,
By night he scorches, as he burns by day.
~~SUMMER: The Second Pastoral, or Alexis
♥ Go, gentle gales, and bear my sighs along!
For her, the feathered quires neglect their song:
For her, the limes their pleasing shades deny;
For her, the lilies hang their heads and die.
Ye flowers that droop, forsaken by the spring,
Ye birds that, left by summer, cease to sing,
Ye trees that fade when autumn heats remove,
Say, is not absence death to those who love?
♥ Resound, ye hills, resound my mournful lay!
Beneath yon poplar oft we passed the day:
Oft on the rind I carved her amorous vows,
While she with garlands hung the bending boughs:
The garlands fade, the cows are worn away;
So dies her love, and so my hopes decay.
Resound, ye hills, resound my mournful strain!
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;
Just Gods! shall all things yield returns but love?
Resound, ye hills, resound my mournful lay!
The shepherds cry, "Thy flocks are left a prey" -
Ah! what avails it me, the flocks to keep,
Who lost my heart while I preserved my sheep.
Pan came, and asked, what magic caused my smart,
Or what ill eyes malignant glances dart?
What eyes but hers, alas, have power to move!
And is there magic but what dwells in love?
Resound, ye hills, resound my mournful strains!
I'll fly from shepherds, flocks, and flowery plains.
From shepherds, flocks, and plains, I may remove,
Forsake mankind, and all the world - but love!
I know thee, Love! on foreign Mountains bred,
Wolves gave thee suck, and savage Tigers fed.
Thou wert from Etna's burning entrails torn,
Got by fierce whirlwinds, and in thunder born!
~WINTER: The Fourth Pastoral, or Daphne
♥ But see, Orion sheds unwholesome dews,
Arise, the oines a noxious shade diffuse;
Sharp Boreas blows, and Nature feels decay,
Time conquers all, and we must Time obey.
Adieu, ye vales, ye mountains, streams and groves,
Adieu, ye shepherd's rural lays and loves;
Adieu, my flocks, farewell ye sylvan crew,
Daphne, farewell, and all the world adieu!
From the Preface (c.1717):
♥ I am inclined to think that both the writers of books, and the readers of them, are generally not a little unreasonable in their expectations. The first seem to fancy that the world must approve whatever they produce, and the latter to imagine that authors are obliged to please them at any rate. Methinks, as on the one hand, no single man is born with a right of controlling the opinions of all the rest; so on the other, the world has no title to demand, that the whole care and time of any particular person should be sacrificed to its entertainment. Therefore I cannot but believe that writers and readers are under equal obligations, for as much fame, or pleasure, as each affords the other.
♥ For (what is the hardest case imaginable) the reputation of a man generally depends upon the first steps he makes in the world, and people will establish their opinion of us, from what we do at that season when we have least judgement to direct us.
♥ If he has not very good sense (and indeed there are twenty men of wit, for one man of sense) his living thus in a course of flattery may put him in no small danger of becoming a Coxcomb: if he has, he will consequently have so much diffidence as not to reap any great satisfaction from his praise; since, if it be given to his face, it can scarce be distinguished from flattery, and if in his absence, it is hard to be certain of it.
♥ I believe, if any one, early in his life, should contemplate the dangerous fate of authors, he would scarce be of their number in any consideration. The life of a Wit is a warfare upon earth; and the present spirit of the learned world is such, that to attempt to serve it (any way) one must have the constancy of a martyr, and a resolution to suffer to its sake... I would plead it as some merit in me, that the world has never been prepared for these Trifles by Prefaces, biased by recommendations, dazzled with the names of great Patrons, wheedled with fine reasons and pretenses, or troubled with excuses. I confess it was want of consideration that made me an author; I writ because it amused me; I corrected because it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write; and I published because I was told I might please such as it was a credit to please. To what degree I have done this, I am really ignorant; I had too much fondness for my productions to judge of them at first, and too much judgement to be pleased with them at last. But I have reason to think they can have no reputation which will continue long, or which deserves to do so: for they have always fallen short not only of what I read of others, but even of my own Ideas of Poetry.
♥ All that is left us is to recommend our productions by the intimation of the Ancients: and it will be found true, that, in every age, the highest character for sense and learning has been obtained by those who have been most indebted to them. For, to say truth, whatever is very good sense, must have been common sense in all times; and what we call Learning, is but the knowledge of the sense of our predecessors. Therefore they who say our thoughts are not our own, because they resemble the Ancients, may as well say our faxes are not our own, because they are like our Fathers: And indeed it is very unreasonable, that people should expect us to be Scholars, and yet be angry to find us so.
♥ I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts; and it must be this (if any thing) that can five me a chance to be one. For what I have published, I can only hope to be pardoned; but for what I have burned, I deserve to be praised.