What does the simile "Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart" reveal about the speaker's view of Milton?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This colorful simile reveals the high regard in which Wordsworth holds Milton. By saying that Milton's soul was "like a star, and dwelt apart", he is expressing his firm belief that Milton, both as a man and as a poet, was one of a kind, different from the common kind of humanity.

According to Wordsworth, it wouldn't just be nice to have Milton back; England actually needs him. The implication here is that there was something special about Milton's character that is noticeably lacking in the England of 1802. Like many of Milton's admirers, Wordsworth seems to regard the great poet as possessed of a keen sense of virtue, which he expressed in his voluminous body of work.

But there's precious little of that in London, 1802. As the speaker, whom one must presume to be Wordsworth, looks around him, he sees a selfish people engrossed in their own little worlds, without freedom, manners, power, and, of course, virtue. If Milton were alive at his hour, things would be altogether different. He's convinced that Milton would put his extraordinary literary talent, not to mention his inexhaustible capacity for virtue, to the service of his country, just as he did during his lifetime.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 20, 2020
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial