But tho' the Ancients thus their Rules invade,
(As Kings dispense with Laws Themselves have made)
Moderns, beware!
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Just because Virgil, and other ancient geniuses who wrote the book on how to write poetry, bent the rules doesn’t mean modern poets can do the same

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Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take,
May boldly deviate from the common Track.
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Pegasus wasn’t any ordinary horse!

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Learn hence for Ancient Rules a just Esteem;
To copy Nature is to copy Them.
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

If you want to do mimesis, don’t waste your time trying to distill nature. Instead, use Homer as shorthand

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Young Maro Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Virgil’s full name was Publius Vergilius Maro

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Still with It self compar'd, his Text peruse;
And let your Comment be the Mantuan Muse.
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

The Aeneid of Virgil, the Latin poet born in Mantua, can be read as a gloss on Homer

But we don’t need Virgil; we should be able to gloss Homer ourselves

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Write dull Receits how Poems may be made Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Receits=recipes

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So modern Pothecaries, taught the Art
By Doctor's Bills to play the Doctor's Part,
Bold in the Practice of mistaken Rules,
Prescribe, apply, and call their Masters Fools.
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Critics should be like pharmacists, carrying out poets' prescriptions. Instead, they usurp the poet’s role, and try to tell us what’s good for us

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But following Wits from that Intention stray'd;
Who cou'd not win the Mistress, woo'd the Maid;
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Instead of playing a subservient role to poetry, criticism has become the main attraction

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Then Criticism the Muse's Handmaid prov'd,
To dress her Charms, and make her more belov'd;
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Criticism’s job is to make poetry look even sexier

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Those half-learn'd Witlings, num'rous in our Isle,
As half-form'd Insects on the Banks of Nile:
Unfinish'd Things, one knows now what to call,
Their Generation's so equivocal:
Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

The worst is when people can’t decide if they’re poets or critics

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