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Contrast this censure of the critics with the romantic notion of the young poet.
He suggests that age can bring a degree of cynicism and rigidity in thinking, which can prevent the bright lights of innovation and change from emerging and challenging our ideas of beauty or brilliance.
The stanza opens with a analogy comparing literary critics to thirsty hikers.
In it, Pope advises against rash judgement from critics and that they should persevere with poets even if they make mistakes or break the rules from time to time.
He argues that without critics being open to new approaches and ideas they will stifle the rise of great poets of their age.
However, if you look at this stanza alone, this message could be generalised beyond poetry and literature.
This could be seen as a defence of innovation and progress in the world.The implication here is that they are going to act as a stifling agent against the ‘fearless youth’ of innovative young poets.Pope is a big one for Classical allusion and his comment about the critics taking ‘shallow draughts’ from ‘the Pierian spring’ suggests that they are making judgement based on only a tiny perception of the full knowledge of the arts.The rules dictate that they can only have ‘short views’ and not appreciate the ‘new distant… The ‘endless science’ Pope refers to not only links to changes within poetry, but reflects the ideas of the European Enlightenment that took off at the beginning of the 18th century – where science made leaps and bounds, pushing our understanding forward dramatically.Pope encourages critics to avoid the temptation to become self-satisfied with their Classical knowledge and poetic comprehension.It certainly acts as a challenge to the old, established order and their rules by suggesting that they may have a negative impact on poetry.This turns the idea that wisdom is associated with age on its head.From the eleventh line we examine the state of the critic.Having come to understand and recognise the majesty of Classical poetry, represented by the first mountain of the Alps, they become content and complacent.This is a common idea now, that the young lack the knowledge to fear failure and thus are more likely to ‘tempt the heights’ than those who are older and have either seen their efforts fail or who have learned to respect the work of others too much.Again contrary to common sense, the knowledge, rules and respect the critics have learned leaves them ‘bounded’ and imprisoned against change and innovation.