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Compare and Contrast "London" by William Blake and "IslandMan" by Grace Nichols. Consider How Each Poem Conveys Alternative Attitudes To Life And Society.

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Owain Millard English Coursework Compare and Contrast "London" by William Blake and "Island Man" by Grace Nichols. Consider How Each Poem Conveys Alternative Attitudes To Life And Society. Introduction The poem "London" written by William Blake (1757 - 1827) is a clever poem. Although we can appreciate it, and understand William Blake's ideas, it was not understood or valued when it was written all those years ago. In contrast the poem "Island Man" written by Grace Nichols is a contemporary poem. The single idea that brings these two poems together is that they are both about the city of London. "Island Man" is in language that we understand today, Blake's poem uses the English language of the 18th century. Brief Historical Background William Blake was born in a district of London called Westminister on the 28th November 1757. His obvious artistic talent lead his draper father to enter him into Par's Drawing School in the strand. This lead on to him later being apprenticed to James Basire, an engraver who worked for the Royal Society of Antiquaries. He married Catherine Boucher in the August of 1972 when he became a freelance engraver. Blake was an accomplished artist in many areas, not only did he write novels and poems, he was also interested politics and religion but he could paint and engrave to a very high standard. Blake was introduced by Joseph Johnson to other radical thinkers of the day including Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Joseph Priestley and Thomas Paine. In his books such as The French Revolution 1791, and America: A Prophecy 1793. He developed his attitude of revolt against authority, combining political belief and visionary ecstasy. The political situation of the time was such that some of his work was printed anomalously because he feared government persecution. In 1800 Blake moved to Felpham where he began work on his epic poem, "Milton" and "Jerusalem". ...read more.


Here he is emphasising the importance of every section of society, and how each word symbolises every section of that particular status. Senses The poet appeals to our sense of sight and sound in his poem. In stanza one the sense appealed to is visual talking about the river Thames and the streets of London full of business activity. Blake concentrates on the physical surroundings. One stanza is in direct contrast to the other. The word "cry" is repeated several times, this together with "Soldiers sigh" gives the reader an understanding of the pitiful sounds that surrounded the poet as he journeyed through London. The poet wants us to listen to everything he says, he emphasises this in the third stanza with the first letter of every line spells the word "hear". Our sense of sight cannot help but be engaged by "Every blackning Church". Black is a colour associated with evil and bad happenings. Tenses The poem was written in the present tense. All the sights and sounds he experiences are happening now and need to be addressed immediately. Society needs to examine itself and change. Punctuation is used by the poet to control the rhythm and the pace. The commas are used to list the many problems that are witnessed "In every voice, in every ban". The poet also uses other techniques of punctuation such as a colon in the line "Every blackning Church appals:". This is to differentiate between two different subjects being the Church and the Monarchy, it is to make clear who he is accusing of being hypercritical and who he is accusing of being violent. The Effects on the Reader The effects on the reader are quite profound, we are left reflecting and wondering what is really going on in society. Blake hoped his poem would make a difference and reach people who could make society a happier and fairer place to live. ...read more.


Blake's poem also has thoughts running from one line to the other. The poem "Island Man" is written in the third person, it communicates a sense of detachment and could well be someone else's experience, there must be many people in London who are away from home and feel a sense of isolation even tough they are surrounded by hoards of people. In comparison Blake's poem was written in the first person making "London" a more personal poem. The same senses are evident in both poems, each of the poems only deal with sight and sound, but are treated in different ways. The poem "Island Man" sights and sounds are linked "sound of blue surf" gives the reader an idyllic image of a perfect island beach. In the poem "London" the whole of the first stanza is concerned with sight and the whole of the second stanza is concerned with sound. Tenses The poem "Island Man" is written in the present tense in modern-day London. In comparison the poem "London" although also written in the present tense is concerned with 18th century London. Punctuation Grace Nichols's technique of using absolutely no punctuation what so ever is very effective, it communicates the idea of freedom and a dream like state. There are no rules in this poem, thought continues from one line to the other. "His crumpled pillow waves island man heaves himself". This is in direct contrast to Blake's poem which is ruled by punctuation. The poem has either a comma, full stop or colon. Effect on the Reader "Island Man" in the first half of the poem is very bright and cheerful and shows a very natural and free way of life, which every reader could identify me with and would hope to aspire to. The second part of the poem deals with the reality of London life again, which many people can identify with. In contrast Blake's poem "London" is a very gloomy poem all the way through. Conclusion ...read more.

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