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London, 1802 -- William Wordsworth

Another milestone - the poem numbers move into eight bits <g>.
(Poem #128) London, 1802
 Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
 England hath need of thee: she is a fen
 Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
 Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
 Have forfeited their ancient English dower
 Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
 Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
 And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
 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,
 So didst thou travel on life's common way,
 In cheerful godliness; and yet the heart
 The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
-- William Wordsworth
A nice but unremarkable poem - it's a pretty standard sonnet (albeit with a
mildly unusual rhyme scheme), dividing clearly into an octet and a sestet.
It also seems a lot more 'constructed' than a lot of Wordsworth's poems,
probably because the theme is a trifle more abstract than his usual stuff.
There isn't really a lot to be said about this poem, which is mostly
self-explanatory - compare the last three lines, though, to Milton's 'On His
Blindness' poem #106

Not-quite-biography-and-assessment dept.:

  It is probably safe to say that by the late 20th century he stood in
  critical estimation where Coleridge and Arnold had originally placed him,
  next to John Milton--who stands, of course, next to William Shakespeare.

        -- EB, a somewhat fortuitous quote

Background-of-sorts:

  In 1802, during the short-lived Peace of Amiens, Wordsworth returned
  briefly to France, where at Calais he met his daughter and made his peace
  with Annette [1]. -- EB

  [1] ..he returned in 1791 to France, where he formed a passionate
  attachment to a Frenchwoman, Annette Vallon. But before their child was
  born in December 1792, Wordsworth had to return to England and was cut off
  there by the outbreak of war between England and France. He was not to see
  his daughter Caroline until she was nine.

  Amiens, Treaty of

  (March 27, 1802), an agreement signed at Amiens, Fr., by Britain, France,
  Spain, and the Batavian Republic (the Netherlands), achieving a peace in
  Europe for 14 months during the Napoleonic Wars. It ignored some questions
  that divided Britain and France, such as the fate of the Belgian
  provinces, Savoy, and Switzerland and the trade relations between Britain
  and the French-controlled European continent.
          -- EB again

No idea if any of this has any connection to the poem, but that was what
Wordsworth and England were going through in 1802.

m.

50 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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