Alexander Pope Quotes

Alexander Pope, 1688 – 1744

Born: 21 May 1688, London, England
Died: 30 May 1744, Twickenham, England

Pope was born into a Catholic family at a time when the law said Catholics could not teach. Although he did attend two illegal schools briefly, he was mostly taught by family and his own reading. At twelve the family left London and Pope’s health problems began, including Pott’s disease, a form of tuberculosis that infected his bones, stunting his growth, and leaving him with a severe hunchback. His first poetry was published to critical and financial success in 1709. He undertook to translate Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey into English poetry, which sold well enough to finance his estate at Twickenham and to live well off the income. He published a ham handed version of Shakespeare’s work which was panned, although his preface to the edition was well regarded. He skewered his critics, and some of his friends, in various published work. At the time of his death he was regarded as the finest English poet of the day, his reputation has fallen and risen over the year but he remains one of the most-quoted of English authors.

Alexander Pope quotes:

‘Tis education forms the common mind; just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.
    Alexander Pope

‘Tis not enough your counsel still be true;
Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do.
    Alexander Pope

‘Tis well – but, Artists! who can paint or write,
  To draw the naked is your true delight:
That robe of quality so struts and swells,
  None see what parts of nature it conceals.
Th’ exactest traits of body or of mind,
  We owe to models of an humble kind.
    Alexander Pope

‘Tis with our judgments as our watches: none go just alike, yet each believes his own.
    Alexander Pope

A little learning is a dangerous thing!
  Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
  and drinking largely sobers us again.
    Alexander Pope – An Essay on Criticism (1711)

A man of business may talk of philosophy; a man who has none may practice it.
    Alexander Pope

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
    Alexander Pope – “Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1727)

A person who is too nice an observer of the business of the crowd, like one who is too curious in observing the labour of the bees, will often be stung for his curiosity.
    Alexander Pope – “Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1727)

A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.
    Alexander Pope

Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
    Alexander Pope

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.
    Alexander Pope

All nature is but art unknown to thee,
All chance direction which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood.
    Alexander Pope

All seems infected that the infected spy,
As all looks yellow to the jaundiced eye.
    Alexander Pope

An honest man’s the noblest work of God.
    Alexander Pope

And all who told it added something new,
and all who heard it, made enlargements too.
    Alexander Pope

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