AN HEROI-COMICAL POEM
Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
sed juvat hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis.
Pope’s “The Rape
Alexander Pope’s “ The Rape of the Lock” is a publication of The Electronic Classics Series, Editor.
Jim Manis, Editor.
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TO MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR
It will be in vain to deny that I have some
regard for this piece, since I dedicate it to
you. Yet you may bear me witness, it was
intended only to divert a few young ladies,
who have good sense and good humor
enough to laugh not only at their sex’s little
unguarded follies, but at their own. But it
was communicated with the air of a secret, it soon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been offered to
a bookseller, you had the good nature for
my sake to consent to the publication of
one more correct; this I was forced to, before I had executed half my design, for the machinery was entirely wanting to complete it.
The machinery, Madam, is a term invented by the ctritics, to signify that part which the deities, angels, or demons are
made to act in a poem; for the ancient
poets are in one respect like many modern ladies: let an action be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the
utmost importance. These machines I determined to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Rosicrucian doctrine of
I know how disagreeable it is to make
use of hard words before a lady; but ‘tis so
much the concern of a poet to have his
works understood, and particularly by your
sex, that you must give me leave to explain
two or three difficult terms.
The Rosicrucians are a people I must
bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book
called Le Comte de Gabalis, which both
in its title and size is so like a novel, that
many of the fair sex have read it for one
by mistake. According to thse gentlemen,
the four elements are inhabited by spirits,
which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs,
and Salamanders. The Gnomes or Demons of earth delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the air, are
the bes conditioned creatures imaginable.
For they say, any mortals may enjoy the
most intimate familiarities with these
gentle spirits, upon a condition very easy
to all true adepts, an inviolate preservation of chastity.
As to the following cantos, all the passages of them are as fabulous as the vision at the beginning, or the transformation at the end; (except the loss of your hair, which I always mention with reverence).
The human persons are as fictitious as the
airy ones; and the character of Belinda,
as it is now managed, resembles you in
nothing but in beauty.
If this poem...