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London, 1802

London, 1802

by William Wordsworth

Patriotism Theme

We don't know about you guys, but we're all too familiar with those uncomfortable conversations that start with "I'm only saying this because I love you…" You know, the ones in which your best friend/significant other/parent tell you everything that's wrong with you, but try to frame it all in the perspective of life lessons. Well, Wordsworth kind of pulls that trick on his country in "London, 1802." The poem may come off as a harsh judgment of England at first, but if we take a closer look at Wordsworth's sonnet, we can see why – because he actually loves his country to bits. He may sound way harsh, but hey, he's only saying it because he cares.

Questions About Patriotism

  1. Do you think Wordsworth felt optimistic about the potential moral reform of his countrymen?
  2. Does Wordsworth offer any solution to the quandary England is in?
  3. Is the poem simply a condemnation of the current state of the country, or are there other ideas at play here?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

While the poem ostensibly addresses the poet John Milton, it actually addresses the English people.

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