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

Moral Essays

Universal Prayer

  • Deo Opt. Max.
  • This was written in 1738 to correct the impression of fatalism which Warburton’s ingenious exposition had failed to remove. Pope had really as little mind for dogma as most poets; but these verses represent what, in view of the instructions of Bolingbroke, corrected by Warburton, he now believed himself to believe.

  • FATHER of all! in ev’ry age,

    In ev’ry clime ador’d,

    By saint, by savage, and by sage,

    Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!

    Thou Great First Cause, least understood,

    Who all my sense confin’d

    To know but this, that thou art good,

    And that myself am blind:

    Yet gave me, in this dark estate,

    To see the good from ill;

    And binding Nature fast in Fate,

    Left free the human Will.

    What Conscience dictates to be done,

    Or warns me not to do;

    This teach me more than Hell to shun,

    That more than Heav’n pursue.

    What blessings thy free bounty gives

    Let me not cast away;

    For God is paid when man receives;

    T’ enjoy is to obey.

    Yet not to earth’s contracted span

    Thy goodness let me bound,

    Or think thee Lord alone of man,

    When thousand worlds are round.

    Let not this weak unknowing hand

    Presume thy bolts to throw,

    And deal damnation round the land

    On each I judge thy foe.

    If I am right, thy grace impart,

    Still in the right to stay;

    If I am wrong, O teach my heart

    To find that better way.

    Save me alike from foolish Pride

    Or impious Discontent,

    At aught thy wisdom has denied,

    Or aught thy goodness lent.

    Teach me to feel another’s woe,

    To hide the fault I see:

    That mercy I to others show,

    That mercy show to me.

    Mean tho’ I am, not wholly so,

    Since quicken’d by thy breath;

    O lead me, whereso’er I go,

    Thro’ this day’s life or death!

    This day be bread and peace my lot:

    All else beneath the sun

    Thou know’st if best bestow’d or not,

    And let thy will be done.

    To Thee, whose temple is all Space,

    Whose altar earth, sea, skies,

    One chorus let all Being raise,

    All Nature’s incense rise!