The Rape of the Lock: Canto 5

Original Text: 
Miscellany (Bernard Lintot, May 1712). Revised in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock (March 2, 1714). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1970. PR 3629.A1 1970 TRIN. Further revised in Alexander Pope, Works (London: W. Bowyer for Bernard Lintot, 1717). E-10 884 and E-10 885 and E-10 3947 and E-10 3938 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2But Fate and Jove had stopp'd the Baron's ears.
3In vain Thalestris with reproach assails,
4For who can move when fair Belinda fails?
5Not half so fix'd the Trojan could remain,
6While Anna begg'd and Dido rag'd in vain.
8Silence ensu'd, and thus the nymph began.
9     "Say, why are beauties prais'd and honour'd most,
10The wise man's passion, and the vain man's toast?
11Why deck'd with all that land and sea afford,
12Why angels call'd, and angel-like ador'd?
13Why round our coaches crowd the white-glov'd beaux,
15How vain are all these glories, all our pains,
16Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains:
17That men may say, when we the front-box grace:
18'Behold the first in virtue, as in face!'
19Oh! if to dance all night, and dress all day,
20Charm'd the smallpox, or chas'd old age away;
21Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce,
22Or who would learn one earthly thing of use?
23To patch, nay ogle, might become a saint,
24Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint.
25But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
26Curl'd or uncurl'd, since locks will turn to grey,
27Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
28And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
29What then remains but well our pow'r to use,
30And keep good humour still whate'er we lose?
31And trust me, dear! good humour can prevail,
32When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
33Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
34Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul."
35     So spoke the dame, but no applause ensu'd;
36Belinda frown'd, Thalestris call'd her prude.
37"To arms, to arms!" the fierce virago cries,
38And swift as lightning to the combat flies.
39All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
40Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack;
41Heroes' and heroines' shouts confus'dly rise,
42And bass, and treble voices strike the skies.
43No common weapons in their hands are found,
44Like gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.
45     So when bold Homer makes the gods engage,
46And heav'nly breasts with human passions rage;
47'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms;
48And all Olympus rings with loud alarms.
49Jove's thunder roars, heav'n trembles all around;
50Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound;
51Earth shakes her nodding tow'rs, the ground gives way;
52And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!
54Clapp'd his glad wings, and sate to view the fight:
55Propp'd on their bodkin spears, the sprites survey
56The growing combat, or assist the fray.
57     While through the press enrag'd Thalestris flies,
58And scatters death around from both her eyes,
59A beau and witling perish'd in the throng,
60One died in metaphor, and one in song.
61"O cruel nymph! a living death I bear,"
66Th' expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.
67     When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down,
68Chloe stepp'd in, and kill'd him with a frown;
69She smil'd to see the doughty hero slain,
70But at her smile, the beau reviv'd again.
72Weighs the men's wits against the lady's hair;
73The doubtful beam long nods from side to side;
74At length the wits mount up, the hairs subside.
75     See, fierce Belinda on the baron flies,
76With more than usual lightning in her eyes,
77Nor fear'd the chief th' unequal fight to try,
78Who sought no more than on his foe to die.
79But this bold lord with manly strength endu'd,
80She with one finger and a thumb subdu'd:
81Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew,
82A charge of snuff the wily virgin threw;
83The Gnomes direct, to ev'ry atom just,
84The pungent grains of titillating dust.
86And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.
87     "Now meet thy fate", incens'd Belinda cried,
88And drew a deadly bodkin from her side.
89(The same, his ancient personage to deck,
90Her great great grandsire wore about his neck
91In three seal-rings; which after, melted down,
92Form'd a vast buckle for his widow's gown:
93Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew,
94The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew;
95Then in a bodkin grac'd her mother's hairs,
96Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears.)
97     "Boast not my fall," he cried, "insulting foe!
98Thou by some other shalt be laid as low.
99Nor think, to die dejects my lofty mind;
100All that I dread is leaving you benind!
101Rather than so, ah let me still survive,
102And burn in Cupid's flames--but burn alive."
103     "Restore the lock!" she cries; and all around
104"Restore the lock!" the vaulted roofs rebound.
106Roar'd for the handkerchief that caus'd his pain.
107But see how oft ambitious aims are cross'd,
108The chiefs contend 'till all the prize is lost!
109The lock, obtain'd with guilt, and kept with pain,
110In ev'ry place is sought, but sought in vain:
111With such a prize no mortal must be blest,
112So Heav'n decrees! with Heav'n who can contest?
114Since all things lost on earth are treasur'd there.
116And beaux' in snuff boxes and tweezercases.
117There broken vows and deathbed alms are found,
118And lovers' hearts with ends of riband bound;
119The courtier's promises, and sick man's prayers,
120The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs,
121Cages for gnats, and chains to yoke a flea,
122Dried butterflies, and tomes of casuistry.
123     But trust the Muse--she saw it upward rise,
124Though mark'd by none but quick, poetic eyes:
127A sudden star, it shot through liquid air,
128And drew behind a radiant trail of hair.
130The heav'ns bespangling with dishevell'd light.
131The Sylphs behold it kindling as it flies,
132And pleas'd pursue its progress through the skies.
134And hail with music its propitious ray.
135This the blest lover shall for Venus take,
139And hence th' egregious wizard shall foredoom
141     Then cease, bright nymph! to mourn thy ravish'd hair,
143Not all the tresses that fair head can boast
144Shall draw such envy as the lock you lost.
145For, after all the murders of your eye,
146When, after millions slain, yourself shall die:
147When those fair suns shall set, as set they must,
148And all those tresses shall be laid in dust,
149This lock, the Muse shall consecrate to fame
150And 'midst the stars inscribe Belinda's name.


1] Pope is again imitating Aeneid, IV, to which he refers in lines 5-6. Line 2 is an adaptation of line 637 in Virgil, which Dryden translates: "Fate, and the God, had stopp'd his Ears to Love." In Aeneid, IV, Dido and her sister Anna plead with Aeneas to stay in Carthage. Back to Line
7] Clarissa: "[Pope] A new character introduced in subsequent editions [beginning in 1717], to open more clearly the MORAL of the poem, in a parody of the speech of Sarpedon to Glaucus in Homer." See the Iliad, XII. Back to Line
14] side-box. The gentlemen occupied the side-boxes, the ladies the front-boxes. Back to Line
53] "[Pope] Minerva in like manner, during the battle of Ulysses with the suitors in Odyssey XXII, 261 ff., perches on a beam of the roof to behold it." Back to Line
62] Dapperwit: character in Wycherley's Love in a Wood, a Restoration drama. Back to Line
63] Sir Fopling: the chief character in Etherege's Man of Mode or Sir Fopling Flutter, another Restoration drama. Back to Line
64] "[Pope] The words in a song in the opera Camilla" (an opera by Marc Antonio Buononcini, performed fifty-four times during 1706-9). Back to Line
65] Meander: a winding river in Asia Minor. Back to Line
71] "[Pope] See Homer Iliad 8 87 ff. and Virgil Aeneid 12 725 ff." See also Paradise Lost, IV, 996 ff. Back to Line
85] A sneeze was considered by the Greeks and Romans to be a lucky omen. Back to Line
105] Othello. See III, iv, 51-98 and IV. Back to Line
113] Some ... cases: a parody of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, XXXIV, lxviii-lxxxvii, where the hero's lost wits are recovered among the lost or wasted things of the earth preserved on the moon. Cf. Paradise Lost, III, 444-98. Back to Line
115] vases: pronounced to rhyme with "cases." Back to Line
125] So ... view. Romulus disappeared during a thunderstorm while he was reviewing the Romans on the Campus Martius, and afterwards appeared to Proculus Julius with a message for his people, and in his sight ascended into heaven. Back to Line
126] confess'd: revealed. Back to Line
129] Not . . light. Pope refers to Catullus' translation of Callimachus' The Lock of Berenice. This Berenice was wife of Ptolemy III. In 246 when he set out to battle, Berenice dedicated to Aphrodite a lock of her hair as an offering for his safe return. The lock mysteriously vanished and the court astronomer pretended to discover it transformed into a constellation, now called Coma Berenices. Back to Line
133] the Mall: the shaded promenade in St. James' Park. Back to Line
136] Rosamonda's lake: a small pond in St. James' Park. Back to Line
137] Partridge. "[Pope] John Partridge [1644-1751] was a ridiculous star gazer, who in his almanacs every year, never failed to predict the downfall of the Pope and the King of France, then at war with the English." Swift had played a practical joke on Partridge in his Predictions for the Year 1708 by Isaac Bickerstaff when he published a prophecy and then an account of the almanac-maker's death. Back to Line
138] Galileo's eyes: the telescope perfected by Galileo in 1630. Back to Line
140] Louis: Louis XIV, with whom England had long been at war. Back to Line
142] sphere: pronounced to rhyme with "hair." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Revised 1714, 1717
RPO poem Editors: 
D. F. Theall
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.119.