Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Alexander Pope  »  To Mr. John Moore

Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

Poems: 1718–27

To Mr. John Moore

Author of the Celebrated Worm-Powder

HOW much, egregious Moore! are we

Deceiv’d by shows and forms!

Whate’er we think, whate’er we see,

All humankind are Worms.

Man is a very Worm by birth,

Vile reptile, weak, and vain!

A while he crawls upon the earth,

Then shrinks to earth again.

That woman is a Worm we find,

E’er since our Grandam’s evil:

She first convers’d with her own kind,

That ancient Worm, the Devil.

The learn’d themselves we Bookworms name,

The blockhead is a Slowworm;

The nymph whose tail is all on flame,

Is aptly term’d a Glowworm.

The fops are painted Butterflies,

That flutter for a day;

First from a Worm they take their rise,

And in a Worm decay.

The flatterer an Earwig grows;

Thus worms suit all conditions;

Misers are Muckworms; Silkworms, beaux;

And Deathwatches, physicians.

That statesmen have the worm, is seen

By all their winding play;

Their conscience is a Worm within,

That gnaws them night and day.

Ah, Moore, thy skill were well employ’d,

And greater gain would rise,

If thou couldst make the courtier void

The Worm that never dies!

O learned friend of Abchurch-Lane,

Who sett’st our entrails free,

Vain is thy Art, thy Powder vain,

Since Worms shall eat ev’n thee.

Our fate thou only canst adjourn

Some few short years, no more!

Ev’n Button’s Wits to Worms shall turn,

Who Maggots were before.