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London, 1802

London, 1802

by William Wordsworth

The Natural World

Symbol Analysis

Wordsworth was really into nature. You know, like, really into nature. We don't know if he actually went out and hugged trees and stuff, but he certainly got close to them whenever possible. Much of his poetry is in the pastoral mode (basically meaning that it had to do with the beauty of nature and the glories of the countryside). Even in this poem, misleadingly titled "London, 1802," the poet manages to bring up natural imagery and doesn't once mention the city of London. Wordsworth uses images of nature as both positive and negative forces in this poem, framing both Milton and England itself in the natural world.

  • Line 2-3: Gross. The first appearance of nature occurs here, in Wordsworth's striking metaphor for the country, which calls England "a fen/ Of stagnant waters" (2-3). This isn't quite the floral, sheep-filled idyll we usually imagine when we think of Romantic poetry. This grotesque image of sickly standing water shows us that there is something rotten in the state of England.
  • Line 10: This next natural image is more positive; we've got more water here, but it's in a much better state. Wordsworth crafts a simile to describe Milton's poetic voice here, comparing it to the sea.

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