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The Hungarian Revolution broke out on March 15th, 1848. Petőfi wrote this allegoric poem at the end of March, in response to rumors that the king was about to withdraw his promise of an independent national government. This rumor was confirmed by an ordinance issued on March 28th. Consequently, the newly named Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Batthyány Lajos resigned, and Petőfi and his friends, the "Youth of March" called on the people to take up arms. A new revolt was in the making, which Petőfi saw as proof of the power of the people. His verses celebrate their victory.
In the poem, the sea represents the people, the storm stands for the revolution, the ship being tossed about is the ruling class and the king. Petőfi speaks of "peoples", since the Hungarian Revolution was only one of numerous uprisings across Europe at the time. Therefore the poem is addressed to all rulers who oppress their people.
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