James Thomson

Comments &Themes


  • Has Thomson’s poem “Ode: Rule Britannia” a music of its own? Does it rely mainly on its metre and rhythm?


  • Listen to a performance of “Rule Britannia”. Does the music by Thomas Arne reflect the spirit of the poem? Is there a mirror-like relationship between lyrics and music?


  • Summarise the various historical allusions contained in the poem “Ode: Rule Britannia”. What do they have in common?


  • What image of Britain does the poem “Ode: Rule Britannia” project? Why do you think the poem / song are still popular today?


  • Discuss the integration of Classical and Biblical imagery / myth in “An Ode on Aeolus’s Harp”.


  • Analyse the main stylistic features in “An Ode on Aeolus’s Harp” (syntax, diction). Is Thomson’s use of language typical of 18th century poetry?


  • The imagery of music is central to the poem “An Ode on Aeolus’s Harp”. What themes does it convey?


  • What aspects of the poem “An Ode on Aeolus’s Harp” can be considered to prefigure the Romantic spirit?


  • Compare Thomson’s “Ode: Rule Britannia” and “An Ode on Aeolus’s Harp”, bearing their purpose and their immediate reception in mind.