Themes and message

Patriotic praise

James Thomson’s “Rule, Britannia!” is a patriotic poem written in praise of Britain. The speaker addresses the personification of Britain directly, listing the ways in which Britain is great and powerful. The speaker suggests that Britain has God on its side, by claiming that Britain first came into existence “by Heaven’s command” (l. 1). The speaker then repeatedly compares Britain to less “blest” nations, trying to argue that Britain is greater than any other country: 

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all. (ll. 7-10)

The speaker exaggerates Britain’s good qualities and ignores any negative aspects of the nation.

Colonialism

The emphasi...

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