"London 1802" is a poem of homage to Wordsworth 's great precursor and literary exemplar John Milton. One of a series written immediately after the poet's return from France to London, when he was struck by the vanity and selfishness of the citizens of his own country, this poem pleads with the dead writer to return amid the English and once again ennoble their hearts with his poetry and with his public service. The intensity of the invocation is felt in the very first word of this sonnet, as the Romantic poet addresses his predecessor directly by his name, arguing that England "hath need of thee" (2) and that she has become "a fen / Of stagnant waters" (2-3). Next comes an enumeration of the lost virtues of English society: altar is a metonymy for religiousness, sword symbolizes courage on the battlefield, pen the greatness of English literature, etc. The English fireside, the "heroic wealth of hall and bower" (5), has abandoned one main national virtue Wordsworth rather vaguely calls "inward happiness" (7). What these ambiguous references to fireside, wealth of hall and bower, and especially inward happiness suggest is that the poet may long for the traditional structure of society based on privilege and money. He is already risking turning from being an ardent revolutionary into a reactionary, conservative public figure. Although he eventually does not go so far, these lines loaded with nostalgia for the past social order
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