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Samuel Johnson, following in the footsteps of other great English critics, was a great poet. Johnson’s poetry was different from any other writer in the late eighteenth century. He used poetry as a tool for an escape from the reality of life. Johnson would also use poetry as a tool for expression of emotion and praise for accomplishment. When Johnson wrote a poem of praise or to express emotion he would still convey his message beyond reality. He would emphasize an event so immensely that it would seem unrealistic. If being real, or reality, is something sensable, then The Vanity of Human Wishes is the poem in which Johnson best display’s these tools of writing for the purpose of escape. With all of his undertakings, from politics to writing critiques, Johnson used writing poetry as his release from reality and the hardships in his life. In 1780 Samuel Johnson wrote “A Short Song of Congratulation.” It is a poem of praise to the actions of the nephew of a friend of Johnson. In the poem Johnson depicts the the young man defying the authority of his wealthy family and squandering a substantial inheritance. He is writing about more than the escape of a friend’s nephew, he is writing about his escape from a less than flawless childhood. In the poem Johnson relays to his subject, “If the guardian or the mother / Tell the woes of willful waste, / Scorn their counsel and their pother, / You can hang or drown at last” (25-28). Johnson is using the life and actions of another to relay the struggles he went through as a child to become successful. Johnson’s subject had to separate himself from his prominent family in order to be his own man, or “hang or drown at last,” which symbolizes a freedom to live of die as he wishes. When Johnson uses the word “guardian” in line 25 he is referring to his own childhood but not to his parents. He groups his hardships, such as his nerve disease and appearance from a different disease, ...

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