William Wordsworth was born on 7 April, 1770 and died the 23 April, 1850 was an English poet and one of the most influential writers in English romanticism. Best know for his style and theories that helped to renew the poetry of his country. During his youth he demonstrated a strong interest and love for nature which is shown in most of his works. “Wordsworth was born as the second of five children in Cockermouth, Cumberland-part of the scenic region in northwest England called the Lake District”. This landscape deeply affected Wordsworth’s imagination and gave him a love of nature. “He lost his mother when he was eight and five years later his father. The domestic problems separated Wordsworth from his beloved and neurotic sister Dorothy, who was a very important person in his life” affecting him considerably.
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Wordsworth was an important writer in English romanticism as well as William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge who “helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their 1798 joint publication, Lyrical Ballads”, which is a key piece of poetry of the romantic era. As one of the most influential romantic poets, he created a unique style of writing which it is based on ideals of nature and imagination. His poetry was mainly based on romantic ideas opposed to realism. His interest in politics, his passion for democracy and good moral values adding his emphasis on passion and imagery gives the reader the opportunity to explore human emotions, rejecting the obscure reality of the 19th century and focusing on the natural world.
Throughout this essay I will provide an analysis of one of Wordsworth’s poems, called “London, 1802”. Composed in London, in this poem he tries to communicate his criticism of society of the day, longing and eulogizing the presence of the 17th century poet John Milton because:
At the time Wordsworth wrote this poem, Milton had been established as one of the great English voices. His most famous poem, “Paradise Lost”, had been acclaimed as the most outstanding of English epics. Wordsworth’s apostrophe to Milton therefore has the effect of appealing to one of the greatest figures in the English tradition. It is likely that Wordsworth is thinking as much of Milton’s connection with the causes of freedom developed during the revolution and interregnum (1642-1660) as of Paradise Lost.
Wordsworth begins the poem by saying “Milton! thou should’st be living at this hour: England hath need of thee:” He wishes in a tone of anger and frustration that Milton were still alive, because England has transformed into “a fen”, a place filled with selfish and unhappy people and Wordsworth want him to “raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.”
Wordsworth says that England was once a good place to live, full of happiness, gentleness religion, and literature, but those virtues have been lost by the revolution and the industrialization of the country in his time. He can only describe the England in 1802 as a swampland.
Wordsworth tries to explain why he thinks Milton would be the savior of England in:
“Thy soul was like a Star and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,”
He refers to Milton as a very powerful man who he gives the ability of moral perfection and a Influential man who never ceased to act humbly also the man who has the gift to make individuals to think about what was going on and what they are missing in that era plus all the other ideals and values in what England is lacking.
The author also speaks of being stagnant in:
“Of stagnant waters: altar, sword and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower”
Here Wordsworth uses symbols and images to describe the situation of England. He uses an altar to refer religion which could mean that there is no point of being religious and all the spirituality has been lost and people are losing his faith.
He also talks about a sword which perhaps he is talking about the military forces perhaps he did it because England was not strong enough as it been before or perhaps is not efficient to fight crime also I think that he is talking about the government, because “the early 19th century was an era of political and social unrest in Britain.” The government failed to satisfy the population causing poverty, infuriating people because they were losing their jobs and being replaced by machines causing unemployment, pollution, child labor issues in addition to any other unethical or moral failures that people could had.
And the final image, the pen, which obviously means literature, Wordsworth could refer to the author’s lack of ideals or maybe all those virtues that are changing and because of that, they get lost in time and finally I consider that Wordsworth was trying to compare the other authors with the quality of the works of Milton.
The poem has two main purposes, the first is the intention of Wordsworth to encourage people to appreciate the wonderful about nature and his beauty by crying out to Milton wishing him to be alive in that time and to teach to those people who not appreciate or understand the importance of the nature, their surroundings and the magnificence of live in a community. In the other hand he wanted to draw the attention to the English social problems that he were facing in the 19th century blaming the social institutions and people themselves for the problems of society that can also be applied in the present time by our feelings toward materialism that we have nowadays.
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