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written in his twentieth year

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  • louise
    Tis with our judgments as our watches, none Go just alike, yet each believes his own. In Poets as true genius is but rare, True Taste as seldom is the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 15, 2005
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      'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
      Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
      In Poets as true genius is but rare,
      True Taste as seldom is the Critic's share;
      Both must alike from Heav'n derive their light,
      These born to judge, as well as those to write.
      Let such teach others who themselves excel,
      And censure freely who have written well.
      Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
      But are not Critics to their judgment too?
      Yet if we look more closely, we shall find
      Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind:
      Nature affords at least a glimm'ring light;
      The lines, tho' touched but faintly, are drawn right.
      But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd,
      Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac'd,
      So by false learning is good sense defac'd:
      Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
      And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
      In search of wit these lose their common sense,
      And then turn Critics in their own defence:
      Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
      Or with a Rival's, or an Eunuch's spite.
      All fools have still an itching to deride,
      And fain would be upon the laughing side.
      If Maevius scribble in Apollo's spite,
      There are who judge still worse than he can write.
      Some have at first for Wits, then Poets past,
      Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.
      Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
      As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
      Those half-learn'd witlings, num'rous in our isle,
      As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile;
      Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
      Their generation's so equivocal:
      To tell 'em, would a hundred tongues require,
      Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.
      But you who seek to give and merit fame,
      And justly bear a Critic's noble name,
      Be sure yourself and your own reach to know,
      How far your genius, taste, and learning go;
      Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
      And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.



      Lines 9-51 of Alexander Pope's 'An Essay On Criticism',
      composed 1709.

      Don't you just love that word 'witlings'?

      Louise
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