Texts In Context
Essay On Positive Values In The Poetry Of Pope & Swift
(lines 100-104)The opening urgent language gives way to playfulness and hyperbole on "twice". Their familiarity and good humour is endearing, especially considering the surrounding tone. Popehas clearly listened to Arbuthnot's advice to not name the names of his subjects, as he declaresin his prose opening: "I have, for the most part, spared their names, and they may be escaped being laughed at, if they please". Yet Pope dilutes this as a result of the poem's constant shiftin tone. His replacement of Edmund Curll's name with "This" is actually
Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift
it appears that the poet dismisses the value of friendship, by defining the (short) amounts of time that each friend will grieve his death. Thisis actually the starting point for Swift to assert a new virtue – pragmatism. He is glad that hisfriends care but acknowledges that they will move on. Although it seems distasteful, the bestmust be made of any situation: "Oh! may we all for death prepare!/What has he left? andwho's his heir?". People must carry on, women will continue to play cards. However, Swift'shyperbole should also be noted. He cites pragmatism as an ideal, but the closing sentiment of the poem indicate that he would not be content for the legacy of his work to be lining dishes at"the patry-cook's".Swift does place value in friendship, but defines it by its absence, in his isolation:In exile with a steady heartHe spent his life's defining part;Where fully, pride and faction swayRemote from St. John, Pope and Gay(line 435)Swift also comments on these friends' skill in writing, albeit within a framework of self-depreciation. Even Pope has respect for other - mostly earlier - writers. Many see his satire asan attempt to bring the works of Horace and Donne up to date.The purity of Arbuthnot's character is another positive. He is an embodiment of valueswhich the poet seeks to uphold, and this is why he has been chosen as recipient of the letter itself: "Dr Arbuthnot is the poet's true friend, the antithesis of the false flatterers and hostiledetractors who plague the successful satirist"
. Arbuthnot does not fit into the world of parasites whom play and profit on Pope's reputation. Friendship is a moral virtue in a worldwhere, in Pope's picture generally, moral virtue does not exist. Dixon focuses on the metaphor of the friend as a physician. This builds upon imagery that began with Ecclesiasticus and wascommon in the contemporary scene
. Pope describes Arbuthnot as a "Friend to my life".Dixon goes further:"It is one of the poem's delightful minor ironies that these men of rhyme seek Pope's advice asthough he were their physician and friend. Yet they do not want to be cured but preserved intheir folly: "
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain/Apply to me to keep them mad or vain.
Epistle To Dr. Arbuthnot
is a work of polarities between fawning admirers and hatefuldetractors, as Pope puts it "If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead". Yet the friendlies between these extremes, opposing both in the process. Dixon's analysis culminates in theidea that by building up the philosophy of friendship Pope is also able to perform a radicalfeat, locating positive values in the genre of satire itself: