The Rape of the Lock: Canto 5

Alexander Pope 1688 (London) – 1744 (Twickenham)

She said: the pitying audience melt in tears,
  But Fate and Jove had stopp'd the Baron's ears.
  In vain Thalestris with reproach assails,
  For who can move when fair Belinda fails?
  Not half so fix'd the Trojan could remain,
  While Anna begg'd and Dido rag'd in vain.
  Then grave Clarissa graceful wav'd her fan;
  Silence ensu'd, and thus the nymph began.
  "Say, why are beauties prais'd and honour'd most,
  The wise man's passion, and the vain man's toast?
  Why deck'd with all that land and sea afford,
  Why angels call'd, and angel-like ador'd?
  Why round our coaches crowd the white-glov'd beaux,
  Why bows the side-box from its inmost rows?
  How vain are all these glories, all our pains,
  Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains:
  That men may say, when we the front-box grace:
  'Behold the first in virtue, as in face!'
  Oh! if to dance all night, and dress all day,
  Charm'd the smallpox, or chas'd old age away;
  Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce,
  Or who would learn one earthly thing of use?
  To patch, nay ogle, might become a saint,
  Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint.
  But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
  Curl'd or uncurl'd, since locks will turn to grey,
  Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
  And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
  What then remains but well our pow'r to use,
  And keep good humour still whate'er we lose?
  And trust me, dear! good humour can prevail,
  When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
  Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
  Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul."

  So spoke the dame, but no applause ensu'd;
  Belinda frown'd, Thalestris call'd her prude.
  "To arms, to arms!" the fierce virago cries,
  And swift as lightning to the combat flies.
  All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
  Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack;
  Heroes' and heroines' shouts confus'dly rise,
  And bass, and treble voices strike the skies.
  No common weapons in their hands are found,
  Like gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.

  So when bold Homer makes the gods engage,
  And heav'nly breasts with human passions rage;
  'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms;
  And all Olympus rings with loud alarms.
  Jove's thunder roars, heav'n trembles all around;
  Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound;
  Earth shakes her nodding tow'rs, the ground gives way;
  And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!

  Triumphant Umbriel on a sconce's height
  Clapp'd his glad wings, and sate to view the fight:
  Propp'd on their bodkin spears, the sprites survey
  The growing combat, or assist the fray.

  While through the press enrag'd Thalestris flies,
  And scatters death around from both her eyes,
  A beau and witling perish'd in the throng,
  One died in metaphor, and one in song.
  "O cruel nymph! a living death I bear,"
  Cried Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair.
  A mournful glance Sir Fopling upwards cast,
  "Those eyes are made so killing"--was his last.
  Thus on Mæeander's flow'ry margin lies
  Th' expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.

  When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down,
  Chloe stepp'd in, and kill'd him with a frown;
  She smil'd to see the doughty hero slain,
  But at her smile, the beau reviv'd again.

  Now Jove suspends his golden scales in air,
  Weighs the men's wits against the lady's hair;
  The doubtful beam long nods from side to side;
  At length the wits mount up, the hairs subside.

  See, fierce Belinda on the baron flies,
  With more than usual lightning in her eyes,
  Nor fear'd the chief th' unequal fight to try,
  Who sought no more than on his foe to die.
  But this bold lord with manly strength endu'd,
  She with one finger and a thumb subdu'd:
  Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew,
  A charge of snuff the wily virgin threw;
  The Gnomes direct, to ev'ry atom just,
  The pungent grains of titillating dust.
  Sudden, with starting tears each eye o'erflows,
  And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.

  "Now meet thy fate", incens'd Belinda cried,
  And drew a deadly bodkin from her side.
  (The same, his ancient personage to deck,
  Her great great grandsire wore about his neck
  In three seal-rings; which after, melted down,
  Form'd a v
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is regarded as one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry, including The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism, as well as for his translation of Homer. more…

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