In dire situations, it is common for people to seek moral guidance. William Wordsworth and Paul Laurence Dunbar did this through poetry. The two poems, “London, 1802” and “Douglass,” share a similar underlying cause, sentence formation, and the conditions of their particular country, but differ drastically in tone, use of comparisons, structure, and the author’s goals.
The two poems share multiple similarities, including the underlying reason behind writing the odes. Both authors look longingly to deceased men to serve as examples of progress that needed to be made in their two countries. In “London, 1802,” Wordsworth is speaking to John Milton, an English poet and political writer. He expresses his concern for 18th century England, claiming that the English have become “selfish men” and losing sight of their heritage. With Milton’s help, Wordsworth states the English would be returned their “manners, virtue, freedom, power.” In “Douglass,” Dunbar is speaking to Frederick ...view middle of the document...
Through the two authors’ techniques, both poems partake in the theme of reaching out for moral guidance in difficult situations.
In addition to the authors’ similar techniques, further literary devices differ between the two poems. The tones varies between “London, 1802” and “Douglass.” Wordsworth uses a very angry, regretful tone, words such as “lowliest” and “forfeited,” while talking about his disappointment in his country. Dunbar goes from being hopeful, “passionate” and “cross of devious ways,” to a desperate tone, “dissension swarm” and “lonely dark,” while talking about the struggles of African Americans during the time of 1902, one hundred years after “London, 1802” was written. The two authors have different approaches in exemplifying various ideas in their poems. Wordsworth uses two similes in line 10 and 11, “Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: pure as the naked heavens..” Dunbar, on the other hand, chose personification in line 7 with, “The awful tide that battled to and fro..” The two methods illustrate the voice of the deceased man, as well as the battle of discrimination. The structure of the overall poem differ between “London, 1802” and “Douglass.” Wordsworth uses only one stanza with 14 lines while Dunbar uses 2 stanzas, one talking about the past and the other talking about the future, with also 14 lines. The separation of stanzas alters the idea and tone of Dunbar, while Wordsworth stays consistent. The authors are depicted as having different goals for writing their poems. Wordsworth wants England to go back to how it was before 1802, which is highlighted by the frequent mentionings of the great past. Douglass, on the other hand, never mentions great times and strives for a change, an escape from segregation.
The two poems, “London, 1802” and “Douglass,” share a similar underlying cause, sentence formation, and the conditions of their particular country, but differ drastically in tone, use of comparisons, structure, and the author’s goals. The two poems differ in their author’s techniques and how their theme is revealed through various literary devices and poetry structure. Furthermore, Wordsworth and Dunbar both showcase nostalgic longing within their poems as they reach out for a rescuer during difficult times in their countries and shed a light on the wrongdoings of humans.