Alexander Pope (1688-1744)|
from An Essay on Criticism
'T IS hard to say if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two less dangerous is th' offence
To tire our patience than mislead our sense:
Some few in that, but numbers err in this;
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
A fool might once himself alone expose;
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.
'T is with our judgements 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, 't is true,
But are not Critics to their judgement too?
The above lines are the beginning of Pope's An Essay on Criticism,
written when he was twenty and published two years later. It can be
found in its entirety in:
Pope, Alexander. The Complete Poetical Works of Alexander Pope.
Henry W. Boynton, ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1903.