Eloisa to Abelard Quotes
by Alexander Pope

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Quotes in poetry tend to function differently than quotes in most literary texts. Yet, Alexander Pope's poem "Eloisa to Abelard" does possess a story within its lines.

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The poem tells of Eloisa, a woman in search of contentment, both physically and spiritually. In her search for both, she only ever seems to find one at a time.

The poem functions as a tragic love song. Therefore, it is important to note the lyrical nature of some of the lines.

And ever-musing melancholy reigns;

Line three of the poem (and many other lines throughout) possesses alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of closely placed words. This same sound position creates a lyrical, or song-like, sound. By using alliteration and the lyrical sounds which are a part of this device, the poem immediately expresses an almost dirge-like sound. Another aspect which makes the poem lyrical in nature is the end rhyme. The poem is written using heroic couplets, and the end rhyme solidifies the musical sound: “cells”/”dwells” and “reigns”/”veins.”

Another important line within the poem is line twenty-four:

I have not yet forgot myself to stone.

Here, the speaker provides readers with an allusion to mythology and the Gorgon Medusa. An allusion is a reference to another text or idea. The success of an allusion lies in the reader’s knowledge. If a reader is not familiar with the allusion, it is lost. Here, this reference to mythology is important. The speaker states that she is not yet stone, which means she may (at some point) come to be stone (referencing Medusa’s ability to turn those who look upon her to stone). By looking upon a lost love, Eloisa could become stone. This allusion could also be speaking to the idea that she has not hardened herself to love yet, although she could in time. This love she speaks of is mortal...

(The entire section is 499 words.)