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A Comparison Between William Wordsworth's 'Upon Westminster Bridge' and William Blake's 'London'

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Introduction

English GCSE Coursework Poetry A Comparison Between William Wordsworth's 'Upon Westminster Bridge' and William Blake's 'London' The English Romantic period spanned between 1789 and 1824. This period was not so-called until the mid 19th century when readers began to see six different poets as part of the same movement. These poets were William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelly and John Keats. Some aspects of Romantic poetry were; there was an increasing interest in nature; there was an increased interest in landscape and scenery; human moods were connected to the moods of nature. Although the six poets cohered to create the English Romantic movement they were all extremely different with different styles. Blake is described as an artist, a lyric poet, a mystic and visionary and during the 19th century his works were not regarded as important as they are now and many people questioned Blake's sanity. Today in the 20th century he is regarded as an original and important poet. Wordsworth is without a doubt one of the greatest sonneteers of all time. Writing over 500 sonnets during his lifetime, he revived this form back into widespread use. Blake took more of a critical view of Wordsworth's poetry. Blake commented that 'Wordsworth's pantheistic natural piety made him a heathen philosopher at enmity against all true poetry' while Wordsworth was rather intrigued with the poetry of Blake. ...read more.

Middle

In Upon Westminster Bridge Wordsworth tries to give the reader of the poem a strong mental image of the scene. In the third line he says "A sight so touching in its majesty". This whets the appetite of the reader. Wordsworth is saying that it is a phenomenal sight and this would make the reader want to be able to see it. Then in the rest of the poem, Wordsworth paints the picture. Wordsworth describes only what is visible to him as opposed to what there is. "Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie" The dome he is referring to on this line is obviously the dome of St Paul's cathedral but he does not say that he could see St Paul's cathedral because he wants the reader to see exactly what he is seeing. He also says that he can see theatres which could be referring to theatres in places such as Drury Lane and Covent Garden. The readers who know the area quite well could also be able to imagine the place better. In London William Blake tries to portray to the reader what he is hearing as opposed to what he is seeing. In the poem he uses many different ways to describe voices and sounds. ...read more.

Conclusion

In London there is an extremely negative view of London. William Blake tries to bring out the anguish of all the people in the poem. He starts off by speaking of charter'd streets and the charter'd Thames. When he says charter'd I think he means that the river Thames is flowing in that way because it is told to flow that way and has no freedom. It may be an ironic allusion to "Rule Brittania". Blake emphasises the anguish of the people of London; "marks of weakness and woe". He also uses cry a lot which is a sound of sadness, pain and anguish. He also highlights the dinginess of London in the third verse: "Every blackning Church appals, And the hapless Soldiers sigh Runs in blood down Palace walls" The poem was written shortly after the industrial revolution and at that time there was a lot of pollution from the new industry and this pollution is what caused the churches to blacken. This caused the London to become as gloomy as William Blake describes it. From reading the two poems, it is difficult to see that they are about the same place. London is set in a scenario when all the people of the city are out and about and Upon Westminster Bridge is set at dawn when practically no one is out and about and there is no pollution in the air from chimney smoke. ...read more.

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