Called "the great moral poet of all times" by Lord Byron, Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was born on this day to wealthy and elderly parents and attended Catholic schools in England.
At age 12, a crippling spinal curvature disease forced him to learn on his own at home and he developed a passion for books.
By the time he was 23, Pope wrote the philosophical poem, An Essay in Criticism, which defined the doctrine of Classicism and included the famous line: "To err is human, to forgive, divine."
Well-known in his time as a level-headed satirist and master of double-meanings, he made classical ideals contemporary using the heroic couplet. He formed The literary Scriblerus Club with fellow writers to satirize “all the false tastes in learning” and inspired the poetic parody Dunciad (1728).
"The hidden harmony is better than the obvious," he said.
Praised by critics, Pope earned success in his lifetime with his brilliant translation of Homer's Iliad (1725). With a hunger for peace and Nature, he retreated to a rural villa in Twickenham. On the banks of the Thames River, the property's stunning gardens and mirrored grotto became a haven for his continued deteriorating physical health.
"All gardening," he wrote, "is landscape painting."
More Alexander POPE Quotations
Do good... and don't say a word.