Alexander Pope

The Rape of the Lock: Canto 3

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 Hom…

Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flow'rs,
  Where Thames with pride surveys his rising tow'rs,
  There stands a structure of majestic frame,
  Which from the neighb'ring Hampton takes its name.
  Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom
  Of foreign tyrants and of nymphs at home;
  Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
  Dost sometimes counsel take--and sometimes tea.
  Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
  To taste awhile the pleasures of a court;
  In various talk th' instructive hours they pass'd,
  Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last;
  One speaks the glory of the British queen,
  And one describes a charming Indian screen;
  A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes;
  At ev'ry word a reputation dies.
  Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat,
  With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.

  Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day,
  The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray;
  The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
  And wretches hang that jury-men may dine;
  The merchant from th' Exchange returns in peace,
  And the long labours of the toilet cease.
  Belinda now, whom thirst of fame invites,
  Burns to encounter two adventrous knights,
  At ombre singly to decide their doom;
  And swells her breast with conquests yet to come.
  Straight the three bands prepare in arms to join,
  Each band the number of the sacred nine.
  Soon as she spreads her hand, th' aerial guard
  Descend, and sit on each important card:
  First Ariel perch'd upon a Matadore,
  Then each, according to the rank they bore;
  For Sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race,
  Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.

  Behold, four Kings in majesty rever'd,
  With hoary whiskers and a forky beard;
  And four fair Queens whose hands sustain a flow'r,
  Th' expressive emblem of their softer pow'r;
  Four Knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band,
  Caps on their heads, and halberds in their hand;
  And parti-colour'd troops, a shining train,
  Draw forth to combat on the velvet plain.

  The skilful nymph reviews her force with care:
  "Let Spades be trumps!" she said, and trumps they were.

  Now move to war her sable Matadores,
  In show like leaders of the swarthy Moors.
  Spadillio first, unconquerable lord!
  Led off two captive trumps, and swept the board.
  As many more Manillio forc'd to yield,
  And march'd a victor from the verdant field.
  Him Basto follow'd, but his fate more hard
  Gain'd but one trump and one plebeian card.
  With his broad sabre next, a chief in years,
  The hoary Majesty of Spades appears;
  Puts forth one manly leg, to sight reveal'd;
  The rest, his many-colour'd robe conceal'd.
  The rebel Knave, who dares his prince engage,
  Proves the just victim of his royal rage.
  Ev'n mighty Pam, that kings and queens o'erthrew
  And mow'd down armies in the fights of loo,
  Sad chance of war! now destitute of aid,
  Falls undistinguish'd by the victor Spade!

  Thus far both armies to Belinda yield;
  Now to the baron fate inclines the field.
  His warlike Amazon her host invades,
  Th' imperial consort of the crown of Spades.
  The Club's black tyrant first her victim died,
  Spite of his haughty mien, and barb'rous pride:
  What boots the regal circle on his head,
  His giant limbs, in state unwieldy spread;
  That long behind he trails his pompous robe,
  And of all monarchs, only grasps the globe?

  The baron now his diamonds pours apace;
  Th' embroider'd King who shows but half his face,
  And his refulgent Queen, with pow'rs combin'd
  Of broken troops an easy conquest find.
  Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild disorder seen,
  With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
  Thus when dispers'd a routed army runs,
  Of Asia's troops, and Afric's sable sons,
  With like confusion diff'rent nations fly,
  Of various habit, and of various dye,
  The pierc'd battalions disunited fall.
  In heaps on heaps; one fate o'erwhelms them all.

  The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts,
  And wins (oh shameful chance!) the Queen of Hearts.
  At this, the blood the virgin's cheek forsook,
  A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look;
  She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill,
  Just in the jaws of ruin, and codille.
  And now (as oft in some distemper'd state)
  On one nice trick depends the gen'ral fate.
  An Ace of