Epistle 1.9 – Essay on Man

by ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)

The extravagance, madness, and pride of such a desire.

What if the foot, ordain’d the dust to tread,
Or hand, to toil, aspired to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repined
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another in this general frame;
Just as absurd to mourn the tasks or pains
The great directing Mind of All ordains.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That changed through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth as in the ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns:
To Him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all!

Essay on Man: Index to first lines

Reading by Martin Geeson for Librivox.org. Download entire audiobook here.

Alexander Pope

“Few persons may know the whole, but these and other lines have passed into common speech, the best possible evidence of power of expression: ‘All are but parts of one stupendous whole.’ …” from The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems by Alexander Pope, Pub. BiblioLife (1988)
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