ope was a famous poet in his own time, known for his satirical verses and translations. His work is famous for the use of the heroic couplet. Pope was born and lived in London to a Catholic family, a difficult thing to be at the time. He is best known for the satire ‘The Rape of the Lock’, the epic poem ‘Eloise to Abelard’ and his translations of Homer and Shakespeare.
Eloise to Abelard (written 1716, published 1717)
An extract from Eloise’s imagined letter to Abelard, her lover
Ah wretch! believ'd the spouse of God in vain,
Confess'd within the slave of love and man.
Assist me, Heav'n! but whence arose that pray'r?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair?
Ev'n here, where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought;
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new;
Now turn'd to Heav'n, I weep my past offence,
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
'Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love th' offender, yet detest th' offence?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
Conceal, disdain—do all things but forget.
But let Heav'n seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd;
Not touch'd, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspir'd!
Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself—and you.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
Inspired by the 12th Century story of Heloise and Pierre Abelard who fell in love and married secretly when Abelard was Heloise’s teacher.