To Those Who Would Be Vain
Extract from The Rape of the Lock- Alexander Pope
by dukesekhon sekhon
“But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
Curl’d or uncurl’d, since Locks will turn to grey;
Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
What then remains but well our pow’r to use,
And keep good-humour still whate’er we lose?
And trust me dear! Good-humour can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
Beauties an vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul”
In essence the poet is saying that beauty is only skin deep and transient in nature. Whereas, human qualities, like good humour, are more lasting, and acquiring of which is hardly restricted by conditions of age, birth, place or time. Good human qualities are in fact the essentials of human existence and therefore it is desirable and necessary to develop them rather than hankering after riches and glamour.
Note: The quote above is a part of a stanza from the famous poem, “The Rape of the Lock”, by Alexander Pope, who to my humble critique is the most accomplished and gifted satirist ever to grace the pages of English literature with his exceptionally distinguished verse, showcasing a highly commendable felicity of language, imagery and craft; though starkly in contrast to his heavenly-bestowed literary gift was the curse of a somewhat ugly countenance and a dwarfed, handicapped, feeble form. But the kaleidoscopic imagery of his tightly knit verse, which shone in one’s imagination as the twinkling stars on the heavenly firmament on a clear night, brought home to the reader the self-defeating nature of human vanity and its futile endeavours. He literally stripped the pompous and the vain, the powerful and the rich, the pretentious and the idle of their outward veneer and exposed their hollow and fragile inner being to the scoffing public gaze by mercilessly whipping the lot of them with the scourge of his satire with ferocity and vengeance of zeal of a reformist.