Thursday, March 27, 2008

To Richard Boyle

When I was reading Alexander Pope a few weeks ago (see my previous posts here and here), I was struck by a point made twice in his poem "To Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington" (Boyle was an architect):

You show us, Rome was glorious, not profuse,
And pompous buildings once were things of use

Or, as Pope puts it later:

'Tis use alone that sanctifies expense,
And splendor borrows all her rays from sense.

I was reminded of Goethe's remarks in Spoleto, at the end of the same century, with the same emphasis on the utility of Roman architecture, in contrast to the alleged uselessness of the architecture of Pope and Goethe's respective contemporaries.

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