To Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

A poem by Alexander Pope


In beauty, or wit,
No mortal as yet
To question your empire has dared:
But men of discerning
Have thought that in learning
To yield to a lady was hard.


Impertinent schools,
With musty dull rules,
Have reading to females denied;
So Papists refuse
The Bible to use,
Lest flocks should be wise as their guide.


'Twas a woman at first
(Indeed she was curst)
In knowledge that tasted delight,
And sages agree
The laws should decree
To the first possessor the right.


Then bravely, fair dame,
Resume the old claim,
Which to your whole sex does belong;
And let men receive,
From a second bright Eve,
The knowledge of right and of wrong.


But if the first Eve
Hard doom did receive,
When only one apple had she,
What a punishment new
Shall be found out for you,
Who tasting, have robb'd the whole tree?

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