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Word Count: 1,047
Great poetry is great not because of what it says but because of how it is phrased Few poems say anything that is very profound instead the best of them use language in novel memorable and effective ways Certainly this is true of Percy Bysshe Shelleys famous sonnet England in 1819 In this poem Shelley describes the depressing dark and dirty state of affairs caused in Britain by political social and spiritual corruption However this poem would not be nearly as effective if it were not for Shelleys powerful use of such classic rhetorical devices as adjectives alliteration assonance imagery irony lists pairings themes and verbs One device that Shelley employs very potently is the use of adjectives The sonnet is full of vivid descriptive words Such words include old mad blind despised dying l 1 dull l 2 muddy l 3 leech-like l 5 Golden sanguine l 10 Christless Godless l 11 glorious l 13 and tempestuous l 14 All these adjectives are obviously strong memorable and effective A second technique that Shelley utilizes quite skillfully is alliteration The poem is filled with the repetition of consonant sounds For example alliteration is apparent in such words as despised and dying l 1 dregs and dull l 2 mud and muddy l 3 blind blood and blow l 6 and starved and stabbed l 7 Shelleys use of this kind of emphasis on consonants makes his phrasing linger in ones ears Yet another tactic that Shelley uses quite masterfully is assonance England in 1819 holds several examples of repeated vowel sounds A few instances of this assonance can be found throughout the poem in phrases such as blind despisd and dying l 1 public mud and muddy l 3 starvd and stabbd l 7 and graves and may l 13 The use of this grammatical tool helps the poem to flow more
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