Moral Devices In William Wordsworth's London, 1802

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In William Wordsworth’s “London, 1802,” the poet John Milton metonymically symbolizes the artistic excellence and revolutionary vigor the speaker believes England has lost. However, the speaker also appeals to Milton for moral guidance, correlating England’s political and cultural stagnation to a forgotten moral foundation. While the speaker employs parallelism and a wide variety of poetic devices to demonstrate this causality, his conspicuous and incessant use of the colon and semicolon particularly establish this interconnectedness. For example, the speaker uses the semicolon to parallel freedom and power with manners and virtue. Moreover, he uses the colon to correlate Milton’s soul– the moral centre of the self– with his influential voice and nationalistic heart. Finally, the ways in which the …show more content…
Here, the first colon highlights the cause for the speaker’s invocation, which is that England is socially stagnant and requires Milton’s intellectual dynamism. The second colon in turn attributes this stagnation to specific facets of society, namely the “altar, sword, and pen,” which metonymically symbolize the church, upper-class gentry, and poets. Moreover, these figures also embody the triangular relationship between morality, politics, and culture, as they establish the church as the moral centre of society, the upper-class as the dominant governing body, and the poet as the manifestation of art. In addition, because the speaker lists the altar first, its stagnation seems to catalyze the stagnation of the sword and the pen. The colon separating “stagnant waters” and the three figures in turn emphasizes this causality, thus further demonstrating how the speaker uses the colon attribute England’s loss of political and artistic vivacity with a loss of

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