Page:Alexander Pope (Leslie).djvu/19

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I.] EARLY YEARS. 7 analysing his impressions and reflecting upon the tech- nical secrets of his art. Such study naturally suggests the tremhling aspiration, " I, too, am a poet." Podo adopts with apparent sincerity the Ovidian phrase, As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came. His father corrected his early performances and when not satisfied, sent him back with the phrase, " These are not good rhymes." He translated any passages that struck him in his reading, excited by the examples of Ogilby's Homer and Sandys' Ovid. His boyish ambi- tion prompted him before he was fifteen to attempt an epic poem ; the subject was Alcander, Prince of Ehodes, driven from his home by Deucalion, father of Minos ; and the work was modestly intended to emulate in different passages the beauties of Milton, Cowley, Spenser, Statins, Homer, VirgU, Ovid, and Claudian. Pour books of this . poem survived for a long time, for Pope had a more than parental fondness for all the children of his brain, and always had an eye to possible reproduction. Scraps from this early epic were worked into the Essay on Criticism and the Dunciad. This couplet, for example, from the last work comes straight, we are told, from Alcander, — As man's Maeanders to the vital spring Roll all their tides, then back their circles bring. Another couplet, preserved by Spence, will give a suffi- cient taste of its quality ; — Shields, helms, and swords all jangle as they hang, And sonnd formidinous with angry clang. After this we shall hardly censure Atterbury for ap- proving (perhaps suggesting) its destruction in later years. Pope long meditated another epic, relating the foundation