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It certainly acts as a challenge to the old, established order and their rules by suggesting that they may have a negative impact on poetry.
These sips ‘intoxicate’ as they give the illusion of understanding poetry, but in reality they only represent a small part of the whole.
As the spring is classically the font of all knowledge the imperative ‘drink deep’ forcefully instructs them to broaden or ‘sober[s]’ their minds to allow for new techniques and approaches.
He came from a middle class family and was educated only up until he was 12, but dragged himself up as an intellectual by binging on the classics of the Greek and Roman world as well as the big names of the time.
From his early twenties his own work was being well received critically with his poetry and translations selling well.
Their knowledge of what good water taste like leads them to discount the water of the Pierian spring after a little sip, which leaves them in a drunken rage at how it doesn’t taste quite right.
Pope Essay On Criticism Summary
However, Pope encourages them to drink deeper to appreciate to expand their horizons and embrace brilliant innovation.
This poem was completed in 1709 when Pope was 21 and published two years later.
As this represents the beginning of his poetic career, the focus on telling critics to go a bit easy may have been based on his own personal hopes.
The rules dictate that they can only have ‘short views’ and not appreciate the ‘new distant… The ‘endless science’ Pope refers to not only links to changes within poetry, but reflects the ideas of the European Enlightenment that took off at the beginning of the 18th century – where science made leaps and bounds, pushing our understanding forward dramatically.
Pope encourages critics to avoid the temptation to become self-satisfied with their Classical knowledge and poetic comprehension.