Pope’s Essay on Man

Alexander Pope Drawing/Collage

Alexander Pope Drawing/Collage

This I might have done in prose; but I chose verse, and even rhyme, for two reasons.  The one will appear obvious; that principles, maxims, or precepts so written, both strike the reader more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by him afterwards:  The other may seem odd, but is true, I found I could express them more shortly this way than in prose itself; and nothing is more certain, than that much of the force as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their conciseness.  I was unable to treat this part of my subject more in detail, without becoming dry and tedious; or more poetically, without sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reasoning: If any man can unite all these without diminution of any of them, I freely confess he will compass a thing above my capacity.

. . . 

I am here only opening the fountains, and clearing the passage.  To deduce the rivers, to follow them in their course, and to observe their effects, may be a task more agreeable.

Alexander Pope, Introduction to “An Essay on Man”

After several halting attempts to teach Alexander Pope and his ideas, I found this statement this morning to be more insightful than any I’ve read before from his collection.  Maybe it was the fulness of time for me.  Back on my 60th birthday, I sat on a balcony on Easter Sunday morning, and recorded in my journal two observations on why I should work at composing poetry and music–the economy of language and the discipline of couching words and phrases in conducive syntax.  This was a revelation to me, and I have returned to it several times in the past two months.  But to sit this morning and read these words from an Enlightened mind truly launched me.  Several hours later I still am quivering from the experience.  Naturally, I felt I had to sit and crank out a drawing/collage of Pope, record this moment in my journal, and try to wax poetic in my writings (I guess two out of three tasks is O.K.).

I would like to say that I devoted the rest of the day to reading Pope and writing poetry, but alas, life/art happens: the Trinity Arts Guild invited me to join several artists for a paint-in at the studio in Bedford immediately after school.  So . . . I went there and worked on watercolor, and I shall post the results of it next.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

 

 

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