“London, 1802” Analysis
The theme of this poem surrounds the wish that John Milton be brought back to life by his wisdom and the power that his influential words had on others. I believe that the theme of “London, 1802” by William Wordsworth is society’s moral decay and the need of a leader to restore us. However, Wordsworth speaks specifically of London, England in this Petrarchan sonnet. By breaking the poem down, one can analyze how the language Wordsworth uses establishes and develops the theme.
The meaning of the poem is fairly clear. The first two lines, “Milton! thou should’st be living at this hour: England hath need of thee:…” sets the serious tone of the poem as the speaker plaintively exclaims to the soul of John Milton. England is not in a good situation, in the speaker’s opinion, as can be concluded from lines 2-6 which read as follows:
“… she is a fen” (line 2)
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness…” (line 6)
The words “altar, sword, and pen,” and “Fireside” make reference to different aspects he is criticising the society of London about—the altar refers to religion, the sword makes reference to violence or the military, the pen refers to literature, and the fireside represents home. Lines 5 and 6 indicate that England has lost their heritage of happiness and optimism to modern times. The next lines (6-8) read, “...We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.” Here, the speaker pleads for Milton to come back from the dead and be the leader they need. He begs for restoration of England’s past glory.
“Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou had’st a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic free,
So did’st thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy...