Essay on Man - Part 6


What would this man? Now upward will he soar,
And, little less than angel, would be more;
Now looking downwards, just as grieved appears
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
Say what their use, had he the powers of all?
Nature to these, without profusion, kind,
The proper organs, proper powers assign'd;
Each seeming giv'n what compensates of course,
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
All in exact proportion to the state;
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own:
Is Heaven unkind to man and man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleased with nothing if not blest with all?

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No powers of body or of soul to share
But what his nature or his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason: man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics given,
To inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven?
Or touch, if trembling felt all o'er,
To smart and agonise at every pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
If Nature thunder'd in his opening ears
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heaven had left him still
The whisp'ring zephyr and the purling rill?
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives and what denies?

Alexander Pope, 1688-1744

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