Commento: Shelley, exiled in Italy but following the news from England, summarised his nation’s ills in this sonnet.
Shelley was a fierce denouncer of political power and a passionate advocate for liberty. The result of his political commitment was a series of angry political poems condemning the arrogance of power, including "Ozymandias" and "England in 1819." "England in 1819" bitterly lists the flaws in England's social fabric. The furious, violent metaphors Shelley employs throughout this list (nobles as leeches in muddy water, the army as a two-edged sword, religion as a sealed book, Parliament as an unjust law) leave no doubt about his feelings on the state of his nation. Then, surprisingly, the final couplet concludes with a note of passionate Shelleyean optimism: from these "graves" a "glorious Phantom" may "burst to illumine our tempestuous day." What this Phantom might be is not specified in the poem, but it seems to hint simultaneously at the Spirit of the "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" and at the possibility of liberty won through revolution, as it was won in France.
Forma metrica: Is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem metered in iambic pentameter. Like many of Shelley's sonnets, it does not fit the rhyming patterns one might expect from a nineteenth-century sonnet; instead, the traditional Petrarchan division between the first eight lines and the final six lines is disregarded, so that certain rhymes appear in both sections: ABABABCDCDCCDD.
The style of this poem is actually extremely unpoetic in a traditional sense. The phrasing is often short and brutal, giving the sonnet the air of a telegraphic report.
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