Sound and Sense
by Alexander Pope
Sound and Sense Ambition and Imitation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line)
'Tis not enough no Harshness gives Offence,
The Sound must seem an Eccho to the Sense. (3-4)
We like the idea of an echo for many reasons. It highlights the idea of sound and repetition, which makes us think of the idea of imitation. Like an echo, an imitation can sound similar to the original, but it isn't the same exact sound. An echo also brings up the idea of time, since it requires time and succession to keep the sound moving. Our speaker's lines could be understood as an echo through time, imitating the ancients and keeping the sense of their rules alive through sound.
When Ajax strives, some Rock's vast Weight to throw,
The Line too labours, and the Words move slow; (10-11)
Here, the speaker strives to throw a heavy rock, just as Ajax did. The speaker's ambition, in this sense, is big enough not only to imitate Homer, but to also match the strength of a war hero. The speaker wrestles to move the rock with his words. If sound and sense are an echo of each other, then the speaker becomes highlighted and the true hero of the poem.
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the Plain,
Flies o'er th'unbending Corn, and skims along the Main. (11-12)
The speaker alludes to classical poetry, like the figure Camilla who Virgil wrote about, as a way to indicate he is imitating the great poets. He moves from the masculine and strong war hero Ajax to the feminine, swift, and agile Camilla. Earlier, he uses imagery of a soft breeze and a stormy sea. Encompassing the extremes of nature and both male and female, this speaker believes that he can make his lines match any sound.