Look round our world; behold the chain of love
Combining all below and all above.
See plastic Nature working to this end,
The single atoms each to other tend,
Attract, attracted to, the next in place,
Form'd and impell'd its neighbour to embrace.
See matter next, with various life endued,
Press to one centre still, the gen'ral good;
See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life dissolving vegetate again.
All forms that perish other forms supply
(By turns we catch the vital breath, and die),
Like bubbles on the sea of Matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
Nothing is foreign; parts relate to whole;
One all-extending, all-preserving, soul
Connects each being, greatest with the least;
Made beast in aid of man, and man of beast;
All serv'd all serving: nothing stands alone;
The chain holds on, and where it ends unknown.

Alexander Pope--selection from Essay on Man

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2 thoughts on “Interdependency”

  1. Great stuff; I think I have Essay on Man in an anthology of English lit, and I should pull it out and read some more Pope.

    Coincidentally, I was struck by how much the lines "One all-extending, all-preserving, soul/Connects each being, greatest with the least" reminded me of the Emersonian "Over-soul." Parts of it also remind me of Bryant's Thanatopsis. The underlying transcendental ideas are striking, to say the least.

  2. Richard,

    When I taught classes about cultural Romanticism, I used Pope's Essay on Man as the perfect Enlightenment foil for the Romantics (of whatever stripe).

    Two of Pope's epigrams are close to Scripture. (1) "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." and (2) "To err is human; to forgive divine."


    George C.

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