Alexander Pope

A picture of the author Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744) was an English poet best known for his satirical verse, heroic couplets, and for his translations of Homer. Pope is the most often quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, second only to William Shakespeare. If you doubt such a claim, see if you've heard this one:

"To err is human; to forgive, divine."

The most memorable work by Pope is his mock heroic poem, The Rape of the Lock, which diffused an actual incident between two aristocratic, Catholic families, who under the Test Act were subject to harsh restrictions and penalties as non-Anglicans. Pope compared the situation to that of the world of the gods in a mocking fashion. The Rape of the Lock, was originally published anonymously in 1712, and later revised with the credit "written by Mr. Pope" in 1714.

His first notable poem, in which he expertly employs heroic couplets, An Essay on Criticism (1711), was followed by his landmark literary satire, The Dunciad, published in three different versions, first as three "books" in 1728, anonymously. The last was published as four books in 1742.

We offer our favorite Pope quote:

"Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."

Just a tad behind Shakespeare's gift for satire, he's our man.

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