Pope, Alexander 1688 - 1744 (56)
ODE ON SOLITUDE
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose heards with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest! who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Alexander Pope was en English poet, the first who managed to live by his art, without the need of an aristocrat or state patronage. He was born in London, to a Catholic family in 1688, at a time that the Anglican Church was oppressing Catholics by imposing bans on their life and education. His father was a merchant and in 1690 they moved to Winsor Forest where were living many Catholics. The same year Alexander suffered from tuberculosis from which he was left with frail health and imperfect physique; he was hunched and his height did not exceed 1.40 meters. He was fond of learning but he was forbidden to access universities as a Catholics so he studied at home on his own, classical literature from Homer and Virgil to his contemporaries writers and learned ancient Greek and Latin, as well as French and Italian. He started to write poetry from an early age and at 24 he caused a sensation in literary circles with his work "Rape of the lock", which satirized the high society and heroic poetry of his time. With this project he gained admirers but also many enemies who felt offended by his sarcastic arrows.
Since 1714 he began to translate Iliad, while in 1717 he published the poems "Memoirs of an unfortunate lady" and "Eloisa to Abelard", both they had great success. In 1719 he moved with his mother to Twickenham; in 1720, the completion of Iliad was a major editorial and financial success, he bought with the profits a villa in Twickenham. At that time, he became subject of many attacks from literature’s people and he fought back by publishing the book “The Dunciad”, satirizing writers and critics. The result was a great publishing success and the outbreak of a war that was not only literary. He was threatened and for a period of time he carried two pistols with him and had a shepherd’s dog for protection. In 1733 he published a philosophical poem and he briefly turned to writing essays, but in 1735 he abandoned the philosophy and resumed writing satirical texts against his enemies. From 1740 his health deteriorated a lot, he had difficulty in breathing because of asthma and could not walk due to dropsy. He died in 1744. "I am dying from hundred of good symptoms" were his last words, as his doctor had told him that his symptoms were not malignant.