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Word Count: 777
Alexander Pope who lived from 1688-1744 was an English poet who modeled himself after great poets of the classical past Verse translations moral and critical essays satires and the development of the heroic couplet made him the leading poet of his age Pope born in London was the son of a cloth merchant His parents were Roman Catholics which automatically barred him from Englands Protestant universities Until he was 12 years old he was educated mainly by priests afterward he primarily taught himself A devastating illness most likely tuberculosis of the spine struck him in childhood leaving him deformed He never grew taller than 4 ft 6 in and was subject to suffering horrible headaches Possibly as a result of this condition he was hypersensitive and exceptionally irritable the rest of his life He was a very quarrelsome man and attacked his literary contemporaries To few he was warm and affectionate he had a long and close friendship with Irish writer Jonathan Swift The Essay on Man is a philosophical poem written in heroic couplets and published between 1732 and 1734 It is an attempt to rationalize the ways of God to Man and a warning that man himself is not the center of all things The two main concerns of Pope were 1 What is in fact mans nature and 2 can that nature be justified by observation White p43 The Essay consists of four epistles addressed to Lord Bolingbroke and were thought to have derived to some extent from some of Bolingbrokes writings The question was often raised regarding the relation between the argument of the Essay on Man and that of certain prose manuscripts of Popes guide Bolingbroke MacDonald p132 Many agreed that the poet and his friend in some way combined their intellect to produce the essay Pope felt and thought by shocks and electric flashes He could only obtain a continuous effect when working clearly
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