Ah, England – land of great literature, good manners, and delicious tea. William Wordsworth had many reasons to be proud of his country, but in "London, 1802," he instead focuses on its shortcomings. The poet points out many of the great traditions of England's past that he thinks his modern day compatriots have left by the wayside; the point of this is not to tell his fellow countrymen how much they suck, but to remind them of the greatness of their country's former glories. By highlighting what he saw as the flaws of his society, he also reminds readers of how great England (and the English) can be.
Questions About Tradition and Customs
- What value does Wordsworth place on a country's traditions?
- What historical factors could contribute to the current state of the country – why might the people of Wordsworth's time be different from those of Milton's?
- Do you have a vision of this historic past Wordsworth invokes? What image of this previous England does he put forth?
Chew on This
Based on Wordsworth's claims in "London, 1802," a country's true success – its "inner happiness" (6) – relates to its cultivation of strong national traditions.