I read a short collection by Alexander Pope last year – a collection that contained this poem – but I honestly rushed through it. While the collection may not have been long, reading essays in the form of three hundred year old heroic couplets is not a swift process, so I went back to leafed through it again.
The emphasis Pope seemed to put on the existence of angels felt to me like a product of Catholicism. Don’t get me wrong, angels are not a major part of this poem, but when he talked about Man wanting to emulate the angels, the angels did not at all seem like a metaphor, but a reference to actually, heavenly beings. And, by the way, it was not considered as a compliment, because the whole poem is about accepting Man’s place in the world.
The whole thing was very Leibniz-ian, with a ‘best of all possible worlds’ aspect to it (though I don’t recall Voltaire ever publishing a satire against Pope; probably because, on the whole, he would have seen pope as a kindred, satirical spirit). Questioning how things are being put as being tantamount to questioning God.
I don’t know. Maybe more thoughts to come later. Or not.