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Clark, David, Andy, Paul, Roy


Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

"Sound and Sense"

Thursady,March 9, 2000



About Life of Alexander Pope
"Sound and Sense"
1. Vocabulary
2. Cultural background
3. Sound
4. Rhythm




Complied and Designed by BUCK LEE


"Sound and Sense"

True ease in writing comes from art, not change,

As those move easiest who have learned to dance.

'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,

The spound must seem an echo to the sense;

Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,

And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;

But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,

The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar.

When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,

The line too labors, and the words move slow;

Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,

Flies o'er the' unbending corn, and skims along the main.

Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,

And bid alternate passions fall and rise!

While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove

Now burns with glory, and then melts with love;

Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow,

Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow:

Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found,

And the world's victor stood subdued by sound!

The power of music all our hearts allow,

And what Timotheus was, is DRYDEN now.




(v) think, consider or deliberate deeply

ex---To muse more is to make our mind more smartly.


(n) attractiveness; power or quality to please others

ex---She has a particular charm and we all like her.


(v) organize and plan secretly and illegally, and used to against the others' plans

ex---The bad guy conspired his friends to murder the rich man.


(a) musical; melodious

ex---Everyone appreciates tuneful music.


(n) a set of principles or beliefs, especially religious ones

ex---I disagree with the doctrine that the writer's life has no bearing on his texts.


(v) to move with body near to the ground or on hands and knees; to move slowly or secretly

ex---The rabbit creeps away and hides in a hole.


(n) musical sounds created by a bell

ex---At that moment a chime sounded from somewhere.


(n) two lines of poetry that come next to each other

ex---rhyming couplets


(a) be filled with something

ex---The earliest operations were fraught with dangers.


(a) completely unnecessary

ex---It is needless to say that many parents offer too much protection for their children.


(v) someone is forced to remain and suffer in an unpleasant situation

ex---Pollar continues to languish in prison.


(n) physical or mental energy and enthusiasm

ex---He blew his nose with great vigor.


(n) a sound that is caused by a noise being reflected off a surface

ex---He heard nothing but the echoes of his own voice dying in the cave.


(a) no roughness, lumps or holes on a surface

ex---The flagstones beneath their feet were worn smooth by centuries of use.


(v) tie something firmly to something

ex---Cindy lashed her motorboat alongside.


(a) voice sounds rough and unclear

ex---She said something in a hoarse whisper.


(n) a lot of water falling or flowing rapidly or violently ex---Torrents of water gushed into the reservoir.


(v) make a great effort to do it or to get it

ex---He strives to keep himself fit.


(v) make a thorough search of it for something

ex---We scoured the telephone directory for clues.


(a) very strict beliefs or attitudes, unwilling to change ex---He was rigid and unbending.


(n) violent or very strong anger

ex---She screamed, her face distorted with fury and pain.


(n) the person who wins

ex---You win and you are the victor.


(v) defeat something or bring them under control by using force

ex---Senior government officials admit they have not been able to subdue the rebels.

24.heroic couplet

(n) a strictly iambic pentameter couplet, strongly end-stopped, and with the couplet prevailing closed; rhymed pairs of lines in iambic pentameter


(n) a metrical form in which each foot consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one


(n) a line of poetry that has five strong beats in it; a technical term in literary criticism


(n) a six-foot iambic pentameter line, characteristic of classic French verse, originating in romances celebrating Alexander the Great

ex---A needless Alexander ends the Song, That like a wounded Snake, drags its slow length along.


Cultural Background

Two periods are in the literary styles and liking of the 18th century. The first half of the century is the great satirists, the second half is the new shape of literature, the novel.

The Age of Satire

Philosophers call the 18th century "The Age of Reason," because people believed that through Reason, Man could reach perfection. Satire (literary work in which vice and folly are held up to ridicule in an attempt to bring about change) was one of the literary styles. Wit remained highly valued, so the best writers combined satire with biting wit. The leading writers are : Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, Sir Richard Steele, Arbuthnot, Delarivier Manley, John Gay, Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding.

Poetry and Plays

This age was from 1704 until about 1744-1745, the years Swift and Pope died.After the end of the Restoration period (around 1714), the stage in England becomes a pretty dismal place, and for the most part remains that way until the late 19th century. Plays were not a major literary form any more. After the death of Pope and Swift, poetry is never the preferred form and the prose works are much stringer. There are some important names:

Oliver Goldsmith (poems and plays), Richard Brinsley Shridan (plays), Thomas Gray, William Collins, Christopher Smart, William Cowper. "Sensibility" - It begins in the beginning of the 18th century and develops until it become so exaggerated that Jane Austin mildly satirizes it in her novel Sense and Sensibility (1811). It is reduced to very simple terms, and it's a reliance on feeling, on passions, and is often linked with "sentimental" writing.

Related to Poetry

About poetry, the poets in the 18th century put a lot of attention on the sound and rhyme in a poem. Because they stressed too much on the sound and rhyme, their working of poetry lacked content and feeling. They only wanted to find some words, which is suitable for their rhyme, so they made a mistake to consider the form of the poem to be more important than the feeling and the content of a poem. It was a fatal wound that they only focused on the sound and rhyme of the poem. In China, there was still the same phenomenon that the poets in the last part of the Tang dynasty did their best to make the most perfect rhyme in their poem. They also developed a set of strict rules for the poets to obey. So then the poetry only sounds good but low in it and went bad from bad to worse. At last, it was replaced by Song tz in Song dynasty. But Alexander Pope at that time did not agree this wrong trend, he wrote the poem "Sound and Sense" (or "An Essay On Critcism") to criticize it and proposed some good suggestion.

The Novel

'In 1791 the bookseller James Lackington commented: "There are some thousands of women who frequent my shop, that know as well what books to choose, and are as well acquainted with works of taste and genius, as any gentleman in the kingdom, notwithstanding they sneer against novel readers." (Jane Austin in Style.) the novel form was actually being developed in England in 1680s by the writers like Aphra Behn.

Major names

Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Delarivier Manley, Laurence Stern, Sanmuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Sarah Fielding (brother and sister), Maria Edgeworth, Eliza Haywood, Mary Hays, Mary Davis.

Yes, women prevail the list, for this was a way that women could write without great learning (they were forbidden from better education for the most part). So it makes sense for women to be writing the novel.



Poetry is probably always has been an aural art form. Poems are intimately connected with music and sounds. The following definitions will help you be more sensitive to the various sound effects of poetry. Remember, however, that "Poetry is a result of a relationship among various elements and does not ever inhere specially in any single element" (Brooks and Warren, Understanding Poetry 152). Therefore, when we read a poem, we should always try to consider its various elements together, or matching the sound and sense instead of isolating a certain sound effect or poetic element from its context.

They're two other general suggestions for us when we read the poem:

íP read the poems outloud to feel the various combinations of sound and sense.

íP get the patterns, or repetition, (of sounds and rhythm) of a poem and then look for variations.


Words that sound like what they are trying to describe are onomatopoeic. ex. Emily Dickinson's " I Heard a Fly buzz when I die" & Allan Poe's "The Bells".

Other Sound Effects

Without being onomatopoeic, the sounds of a poem can create some general moods or feelings, but they have to be matched with its senses of the poem they appear in. The followings are some atmospheres that the sounds of poem can create~

Sense of ease or fluidity can be created by the easily pronounced consonants (ex. [l], [r], [m], [n]) and open and long vowels. ex. "I Asked my Mother to Sing"

Sense of melancholy can be created by nasal sounds ([m] & [n]). ex. "Neutral Tones" & Tennyson "Ulysses"

Sense of vitality or difficulty can be created by the explosive sounds ([t], [d], [g], [k],[p] [b]), sometimes combined with short vowels. ex. Tennyson "Ulysses" & Theodore Roethke "My Papa's Waltz"

As you can see from these examples, different sounds create different effects in different contexts. They are meaningful especially when they occur in some kind of pattern.

Sound Patterns

Assonance is the repetition of vowels sounds, either at the beginning of words or within words. ex. In "Neutral Tone" Thomas Hardy uses assonance when he writes "Since then, keen lessons that love deceives."

Consonance is the repetition of the pattern of consonants, as in the words "lives" and "leaves."

Alliteration is related to assonance and consonance in that alliteration also involves the repetition of sounds, this time the repetition of consonants at the beginning or middle of words. ex. Robert Herrick's poem "Upon Julia's Clothes" has the following line that repeats the [b] sound (together with the [v] sound): "see That brave vibration each way free." Another great example is "Upon Julia's Clothes" below.




If two words or lines of poetry rhyme, they end with the same sounds, including a vowel. That is, a sound device that the final vowel and consonant repeated in two words. There are different kinds of rhyme:

1. Exact rhyme means that the final vowel and consonants sounds are exactly the same. For example, the word "cat" is an exact rhyme with "hat," "fat," "sat," "rat," and other words.

2. Slant rhyme is the rhyme that the final consonant of two words sounds the same, but the final vowel sounds are not identical. "Room" and "storm" are slant rhymes (Emily Dickinson's I heard a fly buzz when I died).

3. End rhyme refers to two sounds rhyme each other at the end of lines. The first and third lines rhyme and the second and fourth lines rhyme. For example, That time of the year thou mayst in me behold / When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang / Upon those boughs which shale against the cold / Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. Behold and cold rhyme, and hang and sang rhyme. (William Shakespeare, That time of the year thou mayst in me behold).

4. Internal rhyme means that not all rhyming words have to be at the end of lines. Some poems have rhymes within the lines.

Poetic rhythm

Refers to the alternation between the stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem. A stressed syllable receives more emphasis and stress than an unstressed syllable.

1. Meter: a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.

A. Iambic meter: a line consists of two syllables. The first syllable is unstressed followed by a stressed one.

B. Trochaic meter: a line also consists of two syllables. The first one is stressed followed by an unstressed one.