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Essay on man
Epistle 1
Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition and the pride of Kings.
Let us (since Life can little more supply
Than just to look about us, and to die)
Expatiate free or all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flow‘rs promiscuous shoot;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covered yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eve Nature‘s walks, shoot Folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
But vindicate the ways of God to Man.

I. Say first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of Man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Thro ‘worlds unnumber‘d tho‘ the God be known,
‘Tis ours to trace him, only in our own.
He, who thro ‘vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how System into System runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What vary‘d being peoples ev‘ry Star,
May tell, why Heaven has made us as we are.
But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has your pervading soul
Look‘d thro ‘? or can a part contain the whole?

Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?

II. Presumptuous Man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form‘d so weak, so little, and so blind!
First, if you canst, the harder reason guess
Why form‘d no weaker, blinder, and no less?
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove?

Of systems possible, if tis confest
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reasning life, ‘tis plain
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as Man;
And all the question (wrangle e‘er so long)
Is only this, if God has placed him wrong?

Respecting Man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, tho ‘labor‘d on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
In God‘s, one single can its end produce; 55
Yet serves to second too some other use.
So Man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel, or forget to some goal;
‘Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.

When the proud steed shall know why Man restrains
His fiery course, or drives him or the plains;
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a victim, and now Aegypt‘s God:
Then shall Man’s pride and dulness comprehend
His actions ‘, passions‘, being‘s use and end;
Why doing, suff’ring, check‘d, impell‘d; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
Then say not Man‘s imperfect, Heavn in fault;
Say rather, Man‘s as perfect as he ought;
His knowledge measur‘d to his state and place,
His time a moment, and a point his space.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here or there?
The blest to-day is as completely so,
As who began a thousand years ago.

III. Heav‘n from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescrib‘d, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know,
Or who could suffer Being here below?
The lamb thy not dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas‘d to the last, he crops the flow‘ry food,
And licks the hand just raises to shed his blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv‘n,
That each may fill the circle mark‘d by Heav‘n,
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl‘d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher, Death, and God adore!
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest;
The soul, uneasy, and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor‘d mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk, or milky way;
Yet simple Nature his Hope has given,
Behind the cloud-topt hill an humbler heav‘n,
Some safer world in depth of woods embrac‘d, go
Some happier island in the watry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.
To he, contents of his natural desire,
He asks no Angel‘s wing, or Seraph‘s fire,
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.

IV. Go, wiser thou! and in your scale of sense
Weigh your opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fancy‘st such;
Say, here he gives too little, there too much;
Destroy all creatures for your sport or gust,
Yet cry, if Man‘s unhappy, God‘s unjust,
If Man alone ingross not Heav‘n‘s high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there;
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Re-judge his justice, be the God of God!

In pride, in reas‘ning pride, our error lies;
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods.
Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel:
And who but wishes to invert the laws
of Order, sins against th ‘Eternal Cause.

V. Ask for what end the heavily bodies shine,
Earth for whose use? Pride answers, "’ Tis for mine:
For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow‘r,
Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev‘ry flow‘r;
Annual for me the grape, the rose renew
The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;
For me, the mine brings a thousand treasures;
For me, health gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies. "

But errs not Nature from this gracious end,
From burning suns when livid deaths descend,
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep
Towns to one grave, and nations to the deep?
“No (‘ tis reply‘d) the first Almighty Cause
Acts not by partial, hut by general laws;
Th ‘exceptions few; some change since all began;
And what created perfect? ​​«- Why then Man?
If the great end of human happiness,
And Nature deviates, how can Man do less?
As much that end a constant course requires
Of show‘rs and sunshine, as of man‘s desires,
As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
As men for ever temp‘rate, calm, and wise.
If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav‘n‘s design,
Why then a Borgia or a Catiline?
Who knows but he, whose hand the light‘ning forms,
Who heaves old Ocean, and who wings the storms,
Pours fierce ambition in a Caesar‘s mind.
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?
From pride, from pride, our very reas‘ning springs;
Account for moral as for natural things:
Why charge we Heav‘n in those, in these acquit?
In both, to reason right, is to submit.

Better for Us, perhaps, it might appear,
Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
That never air or ocean felt the wind;
That never passion discomposd the mind:
But all subsists by elemental strife;
And passions are the elements of life.
The general order, since the whole began,
Is kept in Nature, and is kept in Man.

VI. What would this man? Now upward will be soar,
And little less than angel, would be more;
Now looking downwards, just as griev‘d appears
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.
Made for his use all creatures if he call,
Say what their use, had he the pow‘rs of all?
Nature to these without profusion kind,
The proper organs, proper pow‘rs assign‘d,
Each seeming want compensated of course,
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;
All in exact proportion to the state,
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own;
Is Heav‘n unkind to Man, and Man alone?
Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
Be pleas‘d with nothing, if not bless‘d with all?

The bliss of Man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No pow‘rs of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not Man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, Man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics given,
T ‘inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav‘n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o‘er,
To smart and agonize at ev‘ry pore?
Or quick effluvia darting thro ‘the brain,
The of a rose in aromatic pain?
If nature thunder’d in his opening ears,
And stunn‘d him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav‘n had left him still
The whisp‘ring Zephyr, and the purling rill?
Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies?

VII. Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental pow‘rs ascends;
Mark how it mounts to Man‘s imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass!
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole‘s dim curtain, and the lynx‘s beam:
Of smell, the headlong lioness between
And hound sagacious on the tainted green:
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernal wood:
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:
In the nice bee, what sense is so subtly true
From poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew.
How Instinct varies in the grov‘ling swine,
Compar‘d, half-reas‘ning elephant, with thine;
‘Twixt that, and Reason, what a nice barrier,
For ever seprate, yet for ever near;
Remembrance and Reflection how ally‘d;
What thin partitions Sense from Thought divide:
And middle natures, how they long to join,
Yet never pass th ‘insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, they could be
Subjected these to those, or all to thee?
The pow‘rs of all subdu‘d by thee alone,
Is not your Reason all these pow‘rs in one?

VIII. See, thro ‘this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
Above, how high, progressive life may go!
Around how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast Chain of Being! which from God began
Natures ethereal, human, Angel, Man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect; what no eye can see,
No glass can reach: from Infinite to thee,
From thee to Nothing! - On superior pow‘rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale‘s destroy‘d:
From Nature‘s Chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.

And if each system in gradation roll,
Alike essential to th ‘amazing whole,
The least confusion but in one, not all
That system only, but the whole must fall.
Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly,
Planets and suns run lawless thro ‘the sky;
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl‘d,
Being on being wreck‘d, and world on world,
All this dread order break - for whom? for thee?
Heav‘n‘s whole foundations to their center nod,
And Nature tremble to the throne of God.
Vile worm! - Oh madness! pride! impiety!

IX. What if the foot, ordain‘d the dust to tread,
Or hand to toil, aspird to be the head?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repin’d,
To serve more engines to the ruling mind?
Just as absurd for any part to claim
To be another, in this general frame:
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains
The great directing mind of all ordains.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That, chang‘d thro ‘all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth as in th ‘ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives thro ‘all life, extends thro‘ all extent;
Spreads undivided, operates unspent,
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns;
To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.

X. Cease then, nor Order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know your own point: This kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav’n bestows on thee.
Submit - in this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing powr,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All Chance, Direction, which you can't see;
All Discord, Harmony, not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring Reson‘s spite,
One truth is clear, "Whatever is, is right."
English text: Alexander Pope, Vom Menschen, English - German PhB 454, Felix Meiner Verlag

 Attempt by man
Letter 1
Wake up St. John, leave the common good
low striving and the king's arrogance.
Let us (because life can hardly inherit
than just taking a quick look and then dying)
to speak without prejudice about the whole human madness;
A violent maze, but not without any plan;
Motley weeds and flowers sprout without breeding.
A garden that seduces with forbidden fruit.
Together let's search this huge field,
what is obvious, what is hidden in our world;
Explore hidden areas, dizzy heights
where the others blindly go astray;
See how nature is weaving and folly is floating away
catch the way in which that which lives in her arises.
Laugh, where appropriate, be honest, it's also difficult
defend God's ways from the armies of men.

I. Do we now want to understand God or man,
we can only start from what we know.
Outside of his sight, nothing of man is in the light,
What other hint leads us to a reasonable insight?
God is known in innumerable worlds,
but in ours it is only recognized as a trace.
Who can penetrate immeasurable expanses,
sees worlds everywhere that are struggling to
See how systems feed systems
like planets revolve around suns,
what vitality each star unfolds differently,
Tell me why Heaven makes us the way we are.
As in this context, the mainstay
strong connections to the fine whole.
Pure the key that pervades your soul.
Do you know how the part brings the whole into itself.

Is the big chain that connects everything to one
who unfolds us in itself, shaped by God or you?

II. Brazen man! The reason to find is
why you are so weak, small and blind?
First you have to guess what is more difficult,
why didn't you turn out even worse?
Ask Mother Earth why she allows the oak
to become more powerful than the weeds that shade them.
Or ask the silver-colored sky field quickly
why Jupiter's moons are smaller than Jupiter's world.

It is said that before a world was created,
wisdom chooses only the best of all possible.
All must be full, otherwise there is no connection
and everything that arises unfolds in the appropriate rank;
it is reasonable that there is "life" in the ladder
there must also be a level of "human" somewhere;
the question is only in the controversy of this world
whether God has put him in the wrong place?

Mind, whatever we wrongly considered
must be correct if it is related to the whole.
Man’s work, it’s even hard to feel,
a thousand movements hardly lead to their goal.
God can do his work in a single breath,
and yet it is also used for many other uses.
Although man seems to have rulership alone here,
his deeds may benefit an unknown patronage,
Do you feel the gears, the feeling of some goal?
We only have a part of the game, but not the entire game.

When the proud horse recognizes why people are right now
curbs its fiery course, then rushes it across the plains;
If the stupid ox knows why he's harnessed up here,
there is sacrificed and there is worshiped as Egypt’s God:
in the ignorance of his arrogance man understands the meaning
who drives him to gain in all his actions and sufferings.
Wherever action, suffering, pull of reins and whip leads him;
why he acts in the slave, although he feels like a deity.
Our flaws do not come from the heavenly grove,
Rather, people are just as good as they should be.
His knowledge assigns him the location,
the point the space, the time the instant.
Should he be perfect in a certain sense
early or late, here or there and above all in what?
The gifted is already fond of it nowadays,
as well as the one that began 1,000 years earlier.

III. Heaven has covered the fate of the creature
Her present experience is not hidden, only:
What we know of cattle, the spirit of man,
who else would withstand existence here in the depths?
S'Lamm did not consecrate your feeling to die here.
It would just play wildly, if it were wise,
enjoy its flowery fruits happily until the end,
as well as licking the hands that are about to spill his blood.
Oh, praise be the veil that covers the future so
that each unintentionally fulfills its predetermined circle.
Who sees with a godlike eye everywhere
be it the hero's downfall, the sparrow's fall,
how an atom or a system falls to pieces,
how a bubble bursts there and a world there.

So humble hope, swing yourself up, trembling.
Expect the great teacher "death", do not forget to praise God.
He doesn't let you know what joys the future will bring.
But no one wants to miss the hope that is called "blessing".
Hope always sprouts in man's heart on earth,
His pain is not blessed, but it should still be.
The soul, restless, locked out of its home,
rests and only enjoys the concert on the other side.

The poor Indian is like the ignorant child,
sees God in the clouds or hears him in the wind.
It is not science that proudly leads his soul up,
too distant sun or milky stars cluster;
Yet simple nature as hope has given him this,
that behind the cloud hill as a modest paradise,
a safe world in the depths of the forest embraces him,
happier island in water’s desert has mercy on him.
Where slaves once again joyfully feel their homeland,
do not torment demons; no Christians lust for gold.
His heart's desire with it is fully satisfied,
No angel wings, seraphic glow inspires him,
hoping to be in his heavenly canopy
his loyal dog was added as a companion.

IV. Check, you wise! Which is higher in the rating?
Meaningful opinion or divine providence?
Call "unfinished" what appears to you as such;
Be it determined here as too little, there as too much.
Destroy all the creatures, be it for sport or for pleasure.
Roar in your misery, God would dispose unjustly.
It is not man alone who strives for the highest place in heaven,
be it fully developed here, immortal formed there.
God's hands snatch ’he Libra’ and rod,
Judge his judgment, be the absolute in God.

Our faults lie in the arrogance of thinking
everyone wants to escape the earth, fly to heaven.
Proudly always strives for the Sel'gen Hain,
People want angels, angels want to be gods.
When an angel wants to overthrow God, his fall is deep,
if man wants to be like an angel, it’s a riot.
Whoever wants to override the law
sin against eternal fatherhood.

V. Ask, what is the celestial star glow for?
Who benefits from the earth? Arrogance says: “To me alone.
For me mother nature awakens her creative power,
cherishes the flora and ignites the splendor of flowers.
Every year she creates the juice of the grape, the rose fragrance,
Nectar’s delicious drink, mild dew’s refreshing power.
At my disposal, to open up a thousand natural resources,
for my well-being, thousands of springs pour out.
Mine the waves of the sea, the light of the sun,
Earth footstool for me, heaven my throne «.

But if nature does not deviate from its goal of grace,
when the ash-gray game of death falls out of the glow of the sun?
When earthquakes or wild storm waves
Bury cities and crush nations?
"The almighty primal reason does not act in particular
but walk his legal matter in general;
The exceptional few, since change began everywhere;
What is perfect? ​​”- why then woman and man?
If nature is from the great goal, human happiness, well
apparently deviates, why should humans do less then?
How this goal requires an even change
between rain and sunshine, so man's urge,
how there are eternal springs and cloudless skies,
is full of calm, the person - wise and moderate - popular.
If plague, earthquake can't disturb Heaven's plan,
then why should this be a Borgia or Catiline madness?
Who knows, besides the one whose hand spews the lightning,
who waves the ancient ocean, lends wings to storms,
the Caesar's spirit wets with unbridled ambition,
scourges humanity in young Ammon.
Our thinking is kindled out of pride's glow;
Pay attention to moral and natural things ’:
Why does heaven relieve this thing and make that difficult?
If you think this through correctly, both are worth the same.

Maybe it would be better for us, it would appear that way,
Virtue should unite there, harmony here in us;
That air and ocean never feel the wind
that passion never entangles the mind.
But everything arises in a fundamental struggle
and passions are the blades of life.
The design plan is all-encompassing from the start,
to whom man and nature are subject in his work.

VI. What does man want? Does he want to float upwards
hardly live under the angel, let alone rise above him.
Looking down, his looks grieve him,
Bull strength, he wants bear fur outrageously.
The creature he names is made for him,
What good would it be if everyone's strength stirs in them?
Nature only sparingly gave the animal the quality
appropriate the organ, appropriately measure its power.
Apparently she balances it out in her work
through more speed here, more strength there,
everything in exactly the right proportion.
The ration is not larger or smaller.
Every animal or insect is inherently perfect,
does heaven alone not treat man correctly?
Should he, the only being that is called sensible,
be satisfied with nothing because he doesn't know everything?

Man’s bliss (if his pride allows him to do so),
does not consist in thinking or acting beyond that;
Body or soul power is not allocated,
unless he can endure their property.
Why is the human eye not like the microscope?
The reason is simple: He doesn't need the fly's sight?
Tell me why are we not given a fine look?
See the mite, but don't you see the vastness of heaven in one piece?
Or does it hit the body, trembling everywhere
the torment hurts in the smallest pore.
Or if your brain is hit by a death blow
delicious rose fragrance that can trigger this.
When nature thunders in this open ear,
and musically fills with a phenomenal spherical choir,
how much one wished then under the roof of heaven,
the whisper of lukewarm air, a softly murmuring brook?
Who does not see providence good, wise worth
in what it refuses and what it brings?

VII. No matter how far the field of creation branches out,
The power of the senses and the mind gradually increases:
to the top position of the ruling race,
of the lively green, tucked grass in myriad-like mass!
How ways of seeing differ between extremely wide boundaries,
from mole-blind to lynx-sharp vision.
The lioness' sense of smell is only weak,
the nose of the hunting bitch, on the other hand, is very sensitive.
The hearing of what shimmers in the river in many ways,
is different from that which trills in the spring forest:
Spider sense, exquisitely fine, feels every thread,
which she weaves, and so she does not live to her detriment.
What sense helps the bee to sense the poisonous amount in the herb,
what allows you not to cast it into the healing dew.
The instinct in unreasonable pigs eats differently
compared to the one who is in the semi-sensible elephant.
Sharpened the barrier that divides it from one another
always separated and always so close to each other.
Memory and contemplation are united in one another,
thin the partition that separates the sensual and the thought.
Natures strive to harmonize,
but it’s impossible to cross this limit!
Could it be without this fair ranking
that this is subject to that or is everything just yours?
Should all forces be subject to you alone?
Does not reason include all forces in one?

VII. Matter is difficultly born of earth, air and water,
which generates everything in constant change all around.
How high can life go?
How far around, how deep down below?
The chain of beings is immeasurable! - that began with God,
Heavenly beings, the angels host, women and men.
Animal, bird, fish, insect, the result, the eyes are literally
cannot overlook: from the infinite to you,
from you to nothing! - The all-powerful power lives higher,
the one with a violent streak that subjugates us.
There was only one place left empty in creation,
only one scion is broken, it would be the whole ladder.
Do you take out even one link from the huge chain,
the tenth, ten thousandth breaks the chain the whole house.

And if every system flows in the appropriate conclusion,
as it were closes as part of the whole in its river,
the smallest flaw in one part only, not in all,
and the big picture must fall apart.
Let the earth flee from the balance of its orbit,
Planets and suns then pull through all of it lawlessly.
When an archangel falls from his sphere,
Being crashes on being, world upon world.
All the fear - order is breaking - for whom? To you?
Heaven's foundations lean towards their center,
Nature trembles up to God's throne.
Oh earth worm! - folly! Pride! Deepest Babylon!

IX. What if the foot that has to tread the dust
or the working hand wants to rule instead of the head?
What if the head, eye or ear are enemies of the spirit
simply boldly denies itself as a useful tool?
It would be so adverse if a part had a different rank
want to take ’in a great overall context!
It is just as unwise to complain of hardship and torment,
which the all-ruling spirit has proposed to us.

All are only parts of a violent whole
in which God is the soul, the body is nature.
In constant change it stays the same in everything,
great in the earthly as well as in the spiritual realm.
In the sun it's the warmth, the breeze makes it cool,
in the star the glowing, in the tree of the blossom splendor;
the expanse in the expanse, all the vitalizing in life
undivided in part, the tireless weaving end in weaving;
the spiritual breath in the soul, in the body the pain,
the unlimited perfection in the hair as well as in the heart;
in common human suffering it complains mournfully,
delighted in the seraphim, inflamed and ardently venerated;
nothing is too high, too deep, too big or too small for him,
fills, limits and connects it all into one being.

X. Stop calling the order "imperfect":
All our happiness depends on what we profess.
Know your own place: the kind that suits you
of blindness, weakness that Heaven has assigned you.
Just submit to every situation without complaint,
- that is without question better than senseless complaint -
into the protective hand of an all-determining power,
this is appropriate in the hour of birth as well as the hour of death.
Nature is an art that humans do not recognize as such,
Determination of simply invisible guidance that is called chance.
The discord is part of a misunderstood harmony,
the evil here - necessary for all-embracing sympathy.
Arrogant reason is often quite obviously wrong,
but one thing is absolutely clear: "Whatever is, that is true"
German text: Translation by Gerhard Baitinger for Philos website © 2005