Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
XII. London, 1802
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
MILTON! 1 thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower        5
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
O raise us up, return to us again,
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power!
Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:        10
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
Note 1. So headed by the author. England had then made its short-lived peace with France under the Consulate; but why Mr. Wordsworth should call upon the spirit of the great regicide to object to it, in behalf of the ordinary policy of George III., is not easy to see. It was not uncommon for our church and state poet to make use of Milton and his friends in this manner, whenever it suited him. He appears to have assumed as a matter of course, that Milton, being at once a great poet and a moralist, must of necessity have been the property of him and his party, however widely the Republicans and they may have differed in other respects. A strange poetical license surely! [back]

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