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England in 1819 Summary & Analysis
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

England in 1819 Summary & Analysis
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley's "England in 1819" is an expression of political anger and hope. First sent as an untitled addition to a private letter, the sonnet vents Shelley's outrage at the crises plaguing his home country during one of the most chaotic years of its history. The poem begins by attacking England's leaders and institutions, deeming the monarchy a disgraceful leech draining the country of its life force. The aristocracy is totally out of touch, the speaker continues, while starving citizens remain violently oppressed by a greedy government that crushes the freedom of those it's meant to defend. Religion, meanwhile, offers no comfort, the Church itself having become corrupt and "Christless." In its final couplet, the poem then shifts to a vision of national redemption: all of these institutions are dead, the speaker says, but England will one day rise like a mythical bird from their ashes.

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