Epistle 1.2 – Essay on Man

by ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)

That Man is not to be deemed imperfect, but a being suited to his place and rank in the creation, agreeable to the general order of things, and conformable to ends and relations to him unknown.

Presumptuous Man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess
Why form’d no weaker, blinder, and no less!
Ask of thy mother Earth why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade!
Or ask of yonder argent fields above
Why Jove’s satellites are less than Jove!

Of systems possible, if ’tis confest
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must fall or not coherent be,
And all that rises rise in due degree;
Then in the scale of reasoning life ’tis plain
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as Man:
And all the question (wrangle e’er so long)
Is only this,– if God has placed him wrong?

Essay on Man: Index to first lines

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