The Rape of The Lock: Lines 201-216 - Summary & Analysis

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Lines: 201-216. All but the sylph.....wave their wings.

      Summary: Having referred to the gaiety that prevailed all around as a result of Belinda's bewitching smile, the poet observes that the guardian sylph Ariel was alone not taking part in the general mirth. He knew that some misfortune would soon befall the maid and he was troubled with this thought. Forthwith, he called his fellow inhabitants of the air in order to take precautions against it. The regiments of airy spirits soon gathered round the sails of the boat, and whispered conversations started, relating to the purpose of this summons. The sounds produced over the shrouds of heaps of ropes (which were meant for supporting the mast of vessels) were taken by the gay procession below to be just the whistle of the wind; they little imagined that it was conference of airy spirits.

      These lines form part of the description of the wealth of color displayed by the aerial spirits as they gathered about the sails of Belinda's vessel and fluttered their wings in the sunlight. Their airy garments are made probably of the film-like moisture that covers leaves etc. and colored in the most gorgeous hues of the heavens waved in the wind. In the heavens, the poet adds, the light of the sun displays itself in varying combinations of colors, so that every ray emits for the moment a new tinge which changes into another as soon as they flap their wings.

      Critical Analysis: The introduction of the sylphs at this stage gives the poem the mock-epic appearance and makes us aware of how a woman can become careless in her vanity. These lines also show that Pope was not incapable of imaginative flights.

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