The Rape of the Lock

The Rape of the Lock

The Rape of the Lock

The Rape of the Lock


This seminal edition includes comprehensive annotation, the 1712 version of the poem as well as the 1714 version, and substantial critical material in appendices. No student of Pope can afford to be without this classic edition.


The title and opening of a poem often contain a kernel of the whole. Not so much because they summarize, as they often do, its subject matter, but because they are devised so as to anchor the wandering wits of the reader. They sound strong music, fly arresting colours, array their wares in a full light, make quick promises. There is Sidney’s sonnet:

My true love hath my heart and I have his;

There is Wordsworth’s ode on Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream;

There is Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard:

The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day.

And so there is Pope’s Rape of the Lock:

What dire Offence from am’rous Causes springs,
What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things,
I sing—This Verse to Caryll, Muse! is due;
This, ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the Subject, but not so the Praise,
If She inspire, and He approve my Lays.
Say what strange Motive, Goddess! cou’d compel
A well-bred Lord t’assault a gentle Belle?

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