An Essay on Man





Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;

The proper study of mankind is man.

Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,

A being darkly wise, and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the skeptic side,

With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,

He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;

In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;

In doubt his mind or body to prefer;

Born but to die and reasoning but to err;

Alike in ignorance, his reason such,

Whether he thinks too little, or too much:

Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;

Still by himself, or disabused;

Created half to rise, half to fall;

Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:

The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!