Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 255

Illustration of PDF document

Download A Satire Against Mankind Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The poet begins by lamenting that he is a rational creature in stanza 1. He claims that he would choose to be any other creature if he could. Man's senses are too unrefined. Reason is also "contriv[ed]" by man and is at odds with the other five senses (stanza 5). He uses imagery of a human scaling a mountain to describe man's attempt to conquer reason. Man climbs "mountains of whimsy, heaped in his own brain" (17). After this "long" and "painful" attempt, according to Wilmot, man inevitably dies.

The next stanza claims that "wit" is a "common whore," (37) and those who are witty are dangerous. In the next few stanzas, Wilmot imagines the interlocutor of a religious man. The religious man claims that God made man "to dignify his nature above beast" (65). He says that this is worse, as religious men gather many followers, though they ought to be more like ancient philosophers of the school of Cynics and just stay in a bathtub (91). Wilmot then claims that certain elements of reason are justified, such as those primal instincts that tell one when he or she is hungry.

Wilmot then claims that men must be "knaves" as a "defense," claiming that honesty gets them nothing. He concludes by claiming that if indeed there exists a man who is righteous and "a meek and humble man of honest sense," (210) then the poet would recant his verses. If such a man were to be found, however, this would evidence that "man differs more from man than man beast" (210).