What is an explanation of "London After the Great Fire, 1666"?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Dryden's poem "London After the Great Fire, 1666" Dryden personifies the burnt city explaining the processes by which "she" must do so.

Personification is the giving of non-human/ non-living things characteristics and attribues commonly held by mankind alone. For example, "the wind sings" is an example of personification given that the wind (a non-human/non-living object) is described as singing (something humans have the ability to do).

In regards to the poem, Dryden describes the city of London as"laboring with a mighty fate", "she shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow", and "she from her fire does rise."

This speaks to the human-like powers that the city of London possesses so that she can insure her survival and rebirth.

At the end of the poem, Dryden states:

The venturous merchant who designed more far/ And touches on our hospitable shore,/ Charmed with the splendor of this northern star,/ Shall here unlade him and depart no more.

This states the fact that Dryden knows that London offers people something no other city can. Once the merchant "unlades" (unloads) his cargo, he will choose to stay in London given her ability to overcome all else. The merchant, therefore, sees London as possessing the attributes one would align with the ability to succeed.

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