Lecture 24: Augustan Poetry: Pope, Montagu, & Leapor
Rules of Decorum
Those rules of old discovered, not devised,
Are nature still, but nature methodized:
The rules of Decorum adopted during the Augustan age followed the Roman poet Horace.
A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
“Essay on Criticism”
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Pope was a neo-classicists who believed in the Rules of Decorum in poetry.
He was an essayist, a translator, a critic and a poet.
Pope is also famous for his satire poetry.
In “Dunciad”, he attacks the dullness of his literary rivals.
His “The Rape of the Lock” is a mock-epic satire.
Pope is mocking the stupid self-importance of the age.
Montagu is a famous woman poet in the Augustan age.
She was a friend and later an enemy of Pope.
It was she who told Pope that:
Satire should, like a polished razor keen,?Wound with a touch that’s scarcely felt or seen.
Leapor is another famous woman poet. She died at 24.
She left remarkable poems, said to be influenced by Pope.
The poems were published posthumously, i.e. after her death.
Now, madam, as the chat goes round,
I hear you have ten thousand pound:
But that as I a trifle hold,
Give me your person, dem your gold;Y
et for your own sake ’tis secured,
I hope — your houses too insured;
Women poets also satirized the society and its concern with money.
They also explore ideas of women’s role in the society.
Most of the famous women were also poets.
But the female poets are frequently not mentioned in histories of literature.
The female poets are usually critical of male superiority in society.
Perhaps this is why male critics have ignored them.