11 Inspiring Quotes from An Essay on Criticism (by Alexander Pope)

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An Essay on Criticism Quotes

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


True Wit is Nature to advantage dress’dWhat oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d;Something whose truth convinced at sight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind.As shades more sweetly recommend the light, So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Some judge of authors’ names, not works, and then nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Nature to all things fixed the limits fitAnd wisely curbed proud man’s pretending wit.As on the land while here the ocean gains.In other parts it leaves wide sandy plainsThus in the soul while memory prevails, The solid power of understanding failsWhere beams of warm imagination play, The memory’s soft figures melt awayOne science only will one genius fit, So vast is art, so narrow human witNot only bounded to peculiar arts, But oft in those confined to single partsLike kings, we lose the conquests gained before, By vain ambition still to make them moreEach might his several province well command, Would all but stoop to what they understand.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Those half-learn’d witlings, num’rous in our isle As half-form’d insects on the banks of Nile

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


A little learning is a dangerous thing.Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Most critics, fond of subservient artstill make the whole depend upon a part.They talk of principles, but notions prizeAnd all to one loved folly sacrifice.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Trust not yourself; but your defects to know, Make use of ev’ry friend—and ev’ry foe.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold;Alike fantastic, if too new, or old:Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Music resembles poetry, in eachAre nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a master hand alone can reach.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism


Words are like Leaves; and where they most abound, Much Fruit of Sense beneath is rarely found.

— Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism