Thursday, December 2, 2010

Solitude, a poem by Alexander Pope.

Post 585 - Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was an eighteenth-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson. Pope's education was affected by the penal law in force at the time upholding the status of the established Church of England, which banned Catholics from teaching, attending a university, voting, or holding public office on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, then went to Twyford School and to two Catholic schools in London. Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas. In 1700, his family moved to a small estate at Popeswood in Binfield, Berkshire, close to the royal Windsor Forest. This was due to a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles of either London or Westminster. From the age of 12, he suffered numerous health problems which deformed his body and stunted his growth, leaving him with a severe hunchback. He never grew beyond 4 ft 6 in tall.

I came across The Ideal Book of Poetry during my recent move. It was part of my reading requirements for my first year of English at boarding school in 1949. Leafing through it, I remembered that this poem was one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it too.

Solitude by Alexander Pope.

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest! who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years, slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixt, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

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