The Critic’s Task


…from the quills of the dead white poets


Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)



A little earning is a dangerous thing;

 Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

 There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

 And drinking largely sobers us again.

 Fir’d at first sight with what the Muse imparts,

 In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,

 While from the bounded level of our mind

 Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;

 But more advanc’d, behold with strange surprise

 New distant scenes of endless science rise!

 So pleas’d at first the tow’ring Alps we try,

 Mount o’er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,

 Th’ eternal snows appear already past,

 And the first clouds and mountains seem the last:

 But, those attain’d, we tremble to survey

 The growing labours of the lenghten’d way,

 Th’ increasing prospect tire our wand’ring eyes.

 Hills peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!

 A perfect judge will read each work of Wit

 With the same spirit that its author writ:

 Survey the Whole, nor seek slight faults to find

 Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;

 Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,

 The gen’rous pleasure to be charm’d with Wit.

 But in such lays as neither ebb, nor flow,

 Correctly cold, and regularly low,

 That shunning faults, one quiet tenour keep;

 We cannot blame indeed – but we may sleep.

 In Wit, as Nature, what affects our hearts

 Is not th’ exactness of peculiar parts;

 ‘Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call,

 But the joint force and full result of all.

 Thus when we view some well-proportion’d domestPeter.dome

 (The world’s just wonder, and ev’n thine, O Rome!)

 No single parts unequally surprise,

 All comes united to th’ admiring eyes;

 No monstrous height, or breadth, or length appear;

 The Whole at once is bold, and regular.


{From The Essay on Criticism}


About Paul Jacko

Jacko was born in Czechoslovakia not long before the communist putsch in February 1948. He studied industrial chemistry there and left in 1969 for Australia, where he became a lawyer and established his own practice. He has now retired and beside hunting, fishing, camping, prospecting and playing golf he amuses himself by writing.
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2 Responses to The Critic’s Task

  1. A Sander says:

    I always spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s articles with a mug of coffee.

  2. Wombat Hussein says:

    Hello There. I don’t undersatnd it at all. can you translate it to arabic?

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