The Dunciad of My Mind

And, here, my friends, is the end of all things, writ large at the end of Pope’s Dunciad:

See Mystery to Mathematics fly!

In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.

Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,

And unawares Morality expires.

Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;

Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!

Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored;

Light dies before thy uncreating word:

Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;

And universal darkness buries all.

Considering that the goddess has already extinguished the world’s lights, it’s no wonder people are turning giddy. Instead of religion triumphing through burning bushes which speak truth from the very fire of God, Pope’s religion hides its sacred fires when faced with the darkness of dull-wittedness. In turn, this extinguishes the fire that once spurred men to act morally. Reasoning and philosophy are cold; their embers no longer glow with the light of humanity. God has fled from the likes of this dark goddess–the ugly witch of dullness. Human knowledge leads to nothingness. Once men deny the creator, then there is no creation.

The goddess of dullness destroys all of these: truth, art, and religion. Worse still, the goddess has transformed herself into the great Muse, thereby supplanting poetical inspiration with darkness and death. Who is this goddess, and why do flowers crumble at her footfall rather than bloom at her fertile steps?

I would like to ask Pope, but I can’t because he wrote this three-hundred years ago. We’ve been uncreated, though. This I understand. The end to everything touched humanity and then stealthily exited through a side door, leaving us none the wiser.



  1. I don’t know who the goddess is. I was trying to think but couldn’t. It probably has got to me. Reminds me of this passage by John Haines.

    Leaves of the one standing tree
    Fall through the twilight;
    The nightborn images rise, the owl

    In the mask of the dreamer wakes:
    Who is the guest?
    Who is it who knocks and whispers?

    As one calmed in his death-dream
    Would never return
    To this hunted world–

    One more key to the clockwork
    That drives the stunned machine,
    Another cry under the wheel. . .

    But calmed and stationed aloft,
    Delight in his distance,
    To see on the star-pavilions

    The bright imperial creatures rise,
    Ascend their thrones, rule
    And prosper. The thrones darken,

    Earth in the moon-shadow fails,
    And he alone in that cold
    And drifting waste keeps alight

    Memorial constellations. . .

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