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London, 1802

London, 1802

by William Wordsworth

English Tradition

Symbol Analysis

The big question here is very clear: what the heck is going on with England? Wordsworth is concerned about the country's loss of traditional values and strengths, and he really lays it all out here pretty plainly. He loves his country, but is worried by what he sees happening to his countrymen, from both moral and cultural perspectives.

  • Line 3-4: Here, we get a huge list of symbols of England's past glories. First, let's look at the two synecdoches here: "altar" represents the English church, and "fireside" stands in for the security of home. We also have two instances of metonymy; "sword" represents the British military, and "pen" indicates the entire English literary tradition.
  • Line 5: Wordsworth uses metaphor here to describe "inward happiness" as a "dower" (dowry), a kind of gift rightfully owed to the English people. A dowry is traditionally a certain amount of money or goods given by the bride's family to the groom as part of a marriage agreement.

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