Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism is a very long poem, so I won't produce the text here in full; but have a link, and with it my most ardent encouragement to read it through. It's amazing how precisely Pope, three hundred years dead, can still find out all the flaws and stupidities of literature and literary criticism -- and how much aspiring writers (and critical readers) of the present day can still learn from him. His poem is a bit like The Elements of Style in verse, only broader, wittier, and more subjective. I've read it a number of times, always with the same amaze and delight, and basked in every damnably clever line of it. Really, I cannot possibly overstate how much I adore this poem. Yes, I know, it's an essay -- on criticism, of all prosaic things -- but nonetheless, I tell you, it is fucking beautiful.
Behind the cut: ( some of my favorite parts of the poem, with commentary and, occasionally, squeeing.Collapse )
(...Whew. Can you believe this is the sort of thing I look forward to doing with my spare time? o_O)