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Symbol Analysis

The most obvious, glaring literary device at play here is Wordsworth's address of John Milton, an English poet of the 17th century. Not just any English poet – like, the English poet of the 17th century. Milton wrote Paradise Lost, one of the greatest epic poems of all time, which was incredibly important on many levels: first, as a truly amazing work; second, as an exploration of theological issues; and, finally, as a hugely important building block of what we think of as English literature. In summoning up the memory of Milton and addressing the dead poet directly, Wordsworth aligns himself with this tradition of great English poets, a move that's both artistic and nationalistic.

  • Lines 1 and 2: Well, it's no secret as to whom this poem is addressed. Wordsworth immediately invokes Milton, using apostrophe throughout the poem – the poet directly addresses the big J.M. himself.
  • Line 7: Again, Wordsworth apostrophizes Milton, begging him to return from the dead and help England find itself again.
  • Line 9: You got it – apostrophe again ("Thy soul was like a Star"). That's not it, though; here, Wordsworth uses a simile to compare Milton's soul to a star, presumably far better than the rest of us poor saps.
  • Line 10: Another double whammy of apostrophe and simile; this time, Wordsworth rapturously tells Milton that his poetic voice "was like the sea" (10) and was "pure as the naked heavens" (11).
  • Lines 12-13: Wordsworth apostrophizes Milton one last time, claiming that the older poet lived just like everyone else.
  • Line 14: Last but not least, Wordsworth personifies Milton's humble heart, saying that it took all of the "lowliest duties" upon itself.

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