Literature Foundation 2010
For next week:
Please do an analysis of the following. It's an extract from a long poem, Pope's Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot, which is one of the set texts we will be studying next semester. The whole poem is here, with useful annotations. It was written in 1734.
Let Sporus tremble — "What? that thing of silk, 
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel?"
Yet let me flap this Bug with gilded wings,
This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings; 
Whose Buzz the Witty and the Fair annoys,
Yet Wit ne'er tastes, and Beauty ne'er enjoys,
So well-bred Spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the Game they dare not bite.
Eternal Smiles his Emptiness betray, 
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
Whether in florid Impotence he speaks,
And, as the Prompter breathes, the Puppet squeaks;
Or at the Ear of Eve, familiar Toad,
Half Froth, half Venom, spits himself abroad, 
In Puns, or Politicks, or Tales, or Lyes,
Or Spite, or Smut, or Rymes, or Blasphemies.
His Wit all see-saw between that and this,
Now high, now low, now Master up, now Miss,
And he himself one vile Antithesis. 
The extract is continuous, but I have divided it into sections to share the work between groups. I would like each group to do a full scansion of their section, please, and then a line by line analysis of the meaning, and the way in which the couplet structure and metric variation contributes to that meaning; also how each line fits into the whole 21-line extract.
The methodologies best suited for analysis of this poem, (apart from formal analysis, which is what the above is about) are author / historicism / rationales for writing. Please research the background to this poem: it comes from a real event that happened in Pope's life, that turned into a kind of literary war. Please find out as much as you can about this war, and how the poem can be read in the light of this information. If you can read some of the other literary work that refer to it you will attain extra merit.
Please produce some citations as usual.
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