Paul Laurence Dunbar And Wordsworth's London, 1802 And Frederick Douglass

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In his poem “London, 1802,” William Wordsworth calls to John Milton, who wrote famous essay against censorship in England advocated the principles of liberty and public virtue, to change England’s character for the better. In “Douglass,” Paul Laurence Dunbar cries to Frederick Douglass, a former slave who was a leader in the abolitionist cause, to bring African Americans social equality and justice. Wordsworth and Dunbar call to these important figures of the past for guidance in their current situations of trouble, but Wordsworth longs for England to return to its state of Milton’s era whereas Dunbar wants to move forward with Douglass and create a better lifestyle for African Americans. In “London, 1802”, Wordsworth is nostalgic for the …show more content…
Both works express a desire for a significant figure of the past to rectify the wrongs that have overtaken London and America. The poems are both odes to specific individuals and, at the same time, condemnations of modern societies. Wordsworth, however, is nostalgic for the era of Milton in which London was powerful and its people were virtuous and proud of their nation. Dunbar describes his time as similar to Douglass’s, but the mistreatment in Dunbar’s time towards the black community is getting worse and the blacks have no leader to help them move forward and reach true freedom. The language and structure of the two poems are also contrasting. Wordsworth is straightforward in his cry out to Milton in request of a guiding voice for England. He structures the poem with the first eight lines referring to his distaste for England’s removal of its special features and the people’s recent egocentricity, then finally asks for Milton to rise up and inspire the English people. The last six lines eulogizing Milton’s divine characteristics to demonstrate he is the perfect figure to lead England to its former greatness. Dunbar, on the other hand, uses figurative language such as metaphors and personification to convey his message to Douglass that life for the African Americans has not improved since their liberation from slavery. Dunbar communicates in the first stanza that the oppression and racial injustice has not ceased. The second stanza illustrates his hope for Douglass as a new leader of the African American community, but does not profusely extol his qualities as Wordsworth does. The two poems have the same goal in their works, to call to visionaries of past eras for direction, but the tones and styles of the poems are significantly

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