Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On the Direction of Another One's Vice

A thousand ways, is there no black or white?
Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain;

'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain.
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien*,
As, to be hated,
    needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure,
    then pity,
        then embrace.

But where th’ extreme of vice, was ne’er agreed:


Ask where’s the north?
    at York, ’tis on the Tweed;
    In Scotland, at the Orcades;
and there,

    At Greenland, Zembla,
        or the Lord knows where.


No creature owns it in the first degree,
But thinks his neighbour farther gone than he;
Even those who dwell beneath its very zone,
Or never feel the rage, or never own;
What happier nations shrink at with affright,
The hard inhabitant contends is right.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

*Definition of MIEN

1: air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality
: demeanor <of aristocratic mien>