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What Are the Characteristics of Alexander Pope's Poems?
10.03.2021 Dawn Watkins
Poetry
Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope is the third most quoted writer next to William Shakespeare and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, according to the “Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.” One of England’s most celebrated poets, Pope lived and wrote in the late 17th and 18th centuries. He was and remains widely respected for his viewpoints on poetry and morality, and many of the distinct characteristics of his poetry relate to the connection he perceived between these two topics.

Heroic Couplets

In his earlier poetry such as “An Essay on Criticism,” Pope deployed the heroic couplet. A heroic couplet is a poetic form in which two lines written in iambic pentameter end with perfect rhymes. For example, the opening line of “An Essay on Criticism” reads, “'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill / Appear in Writing or Judging ill.” Though the heroic couplet had been a poetic form since Chaucer wrote, Pope’s use of it in his poetry was relatively original in his day. Heroic couplets add a sing-songy quality to some of his poetry.

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