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Posts tagged ‘An Essay on Criticism’

A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing

Colored Light 11To close out my obsessive series of posts about the perils of substituting superficial learning for the deeper kind that really makes a difference, I refer you to someone who said it all much better in the 18th century. This is Alexander Pope (that’s “A. Pope” for you Davinci Code fans), whose poem on the subject follows:

A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts ;
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But, more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise !
So pleased at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o’er the vales, and seem to tread the sky ;
The eternal snows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last ;
But those attained, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthened way ;
The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes,
Hill peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise !