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Friday 25 May 2012

Alexander Pope: The various Off'rings of the World


Still-Life: Samuel van Hoogstratten, 1666-1668 (Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe)

And now, unveil'd, the Toilet stands display'd,
Each Silver Vase in mystic Order laid.
First, rob'd in White, the Nymph intent adores
With Head uncover'd, the Cosmetic Pow'rs.
A heav'nly Image in the Glass appears,     
To that she bends, to that her Eyes she rears;
Th' inferior Priestess, at her Altar's side,
Trembling, begins the sacred Rites of Pride.
Unnumber'd Treasures ope at once, and here
The various Off'rings of the World appear;
From each she nicely culls with curious Toil,
And decks the Goddess with the glitt'ring Spoil.
This casket India's glowing Gems unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder Box.
The Tortoise here and Elephant unite,
Transform'd to Combs, the speckled and the white.
Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.
Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms;
The Fair each moment rises in her Charms,
Repairs her Smiles, awakens ev'ry Grace,
And calls forth all the Wonders of her Face;
Sees by Degrees a purer Blush arise,
And keener Lightnings quicken in her Eyes.
The busy Sylphs surround their darling Care;
These set the Head, and those divide the Hair,
Some fold the Sleeve, whilst others plait the Gown;
And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own.

 Still-Life: Samuel van Hoogstraten, 1664 (Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht)

Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock (1714), Canto I, ll. 121-148


TC said...

Here one can find the complete text of The Rape of the Lock, the greatest mock-heroic poem in English, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley.



Yes, so great, what an eye and ear AP had for setting down the telling detail !

Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.


light coming into cloud above blackness
of ridge, unseen bird calling on branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

called soon became observed,
had no “modern voice”

but its opposite, reference
to person, particular

tree-lined green of ridge above channel,
cloudless blue sky to the left of point

TC said...

By the by, in the event we are not the only ones who tried to tip them on their sides, virtually... -- the Hoogstratens, though they bear a striking resemblance in these two-dimensional images to Joseph Cornell boxes, are in fact not assemblages but paintings.

And remarkable ones at that.

Here is another, for those who would feign to take up the art of letters.

Feigned Letter Rack with Writing Implements