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Sound and Sense

Sound and Sense

by Alexander Pope

Classical Figures

Symbol Analysis

There are three classical allusions in this short poem, which tells us that the classical writers are important to the speaker of this poem. In Pope's day, classical writes (meaning ancient Greek and Roman poets) were all the rage.

  • Line 9: The allusion to Ajax places us suddenly within the epic poem the Iliad by the awesome Greek poet Homer. By name-dropping Homer, the speaker is implying that the greatest poet in Western civilization uses the principle of matching the sound to the sense. And the writer of this poem is doing the same thing! (Comparing himself to the great poets of the past… not exactly modest is he?)
  • Line 11: Alluding to Camilla puts us in the realm of the Roman poet Virgil, the other great poet of Western civilization. Our speaker has dropped the two biggest names in the classical book using them to support his critical principle, as well as showing that he can perform the same tricks.
  • Line 13: The final allusion to Timotheus rounds out the classical references. This poet really broke the mold when it came to surprising an audience with his sound. The speaker holds Timotheus up as an ideal for other poets, including himself, to imitate.

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