Alexander Pope's exceptional talent and fierce ambition made him England's first truly professional poet. His writings are the finest poetic expression of the ideals of an age in which cultured taste insisted above all on elegance of form - whether demonstrated in a handsomely proportional building, a landscaped garden, or a graceful couplet. Pope's mastery of language enabled him to praise, mock, censure, or moralize with equal skill. He could prick the balloon of conceit with a single line or redeploy the entire paraphernalia of the classical epic to bemoan the loss of a lock of hair or to unmask pretentiousness and false values. The formal harmony and balance of his poems reflect a profound sense of moral order, enlisting wit and satire as correctives to vanity and pompousness.
This edition contains all of Pope's poems, except his translations from Homer. The editor, Herbert Davis, has selected texts which follow Pope's latest wishes both in substance and accidentals, and has also included Pope's own annotations. Pat Rogers, Debartolo Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Florida, has written an introduction for this paperback edition.