Genius of Place


The death of Alexander Pope from Museus, a threnody by William Mason


To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot; 
In all, let Nature never be forgot. 
But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare; 
Let not each beauty ev’rywhere be spied, 
Where half the skill is decently to hide. 
He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds, 
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.

Consult the genius of the place in all; 
That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale, 
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale; 
Calls in the country, catches opening glades, 
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades, 
Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines; 
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.

Alexander Pope, Epistle IV to Richard Boyle (1731)