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The Tower

Symbol Analysis

A falling tower shows a very different image of change compared to melting frost. Whereas frost is natural, a tower is man-made. The end of the poem contrasts man’s temporary power with the enduring power of time. The whole point of a tower is to be strong and to stand up, but even the strongest tower cannot outlast nature. Wordsworth likens the tower to an old king whose powerful days are behind him, like Shakespeare’s character King Lear.

  • Line 10: "Sublime" is an important word that took on new force during the Romantic period in England. It came to refer to things that transcend normal experience, particularly emotional experience.
  • Line 11: "Yesterday" has a double meaning. In one sense it means, "the past." In another sense it could be literal: the tower fell yesterday.
  • Line 11-12: This is textbook personification, ladies and gents. The tower is personified as an aging king who finally kicks the bucket. The phrase "crown of weeds" is likely an allusion to Shakespeare’s play King Lear, in which the title character makes a crown of weeds after giving up his real one to his ungrateful daughters.
  • Lines 13-14: He invents a fictional cause of the tower’s collapse: someone shouted, and the sound waves brought down the structure.
  • Line 14: Time’s effect is likened to the sensation of touch. But why is it unimaginable?

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