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To Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Alexander Pope 1688 (London) – 1744 (Twickenham)

I.
In beauty, or wit,
No mortal as yet
To question your empire has dared:
But men of discerning
Have thought that in learning
To yield to a lady was hard.

II.
Impertinent schools,
With musty dull rules,
Have reading to females denied;
So Papists refuse
The Bible to use,
Lest flocks should be wise as their guide.

III.
'Twas a woman at first
(Indeed she was curst)
In knowledge that tasted delight,
And sages agree
The laws should decree
To the first possessor the right.

IV.
Then bravely, fair dame,
Resume the old claim,
Which to your whole sex does belong;
And let men receive,
From a second bright Eve,
The knowledge of right and of wrong.

V.
But if the first Eve
Hard doom did receive,
When only one apple had she,
What a punishment new
Shall be found out for you,
Who tasting, have robb'd the whole tree?

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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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