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Compare and contrast the views of London given by Blake in 'London' and Wordsworth in 'Composed upon Westminister Bridge'.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the views of London given by Blake in 'London' and Wordsworth in 'Composed upon Westminister Bridge' Both these poems were written at around the 19th century - Georgian times, giving William Blake and William Wordsworth's views on London. At this time, the industrial revolution was underway and there was a vast growth in population, due to medical advances and people having more children. William Blake was born in London in 1757. He spent almost all of his life there and died there in 1827. He was the third son of a London hosier. He had no regular schooling, but as a child, he enjoyed reading, was keen on drawing and used to imitate engravings and statues. He had been writing poetry since he was only 11 and in 1792, he had his 'early poems' printed under the title of "Poetical sketches." In 1794, more poetical works appeared, and among them, "The Gates of Paradise" and "Song of Experience." His intellectual and psychological growth, however, was dominated by the influence of his brother, Robert, who died of consumption when he was 20. Blake, witnessing his brother's death, claimed that he saw his brother's soul "Ascend heavenward clapping its hands for joy," and continued, from that point on, to feel Robert's inspirational influence over his work. ...read more.

Middle

Wordsworth shows his feelings for London in a figurative way. He personifies the sun, using the personal pronoun 'his;' and the city is a 'mighty heart.' He allows them to perform human functions such as wearing clothes. These also suggest that nature and the city are alive and therefore as one. He continues this simile giving the river 'a will', something which is unique to people. Wordsworth also says 'The City now doth like a garment wear the beauty of the morning.' This gives the impression that the city is alive, not just a plain collection of buildings. I think this personification means that the city takes the beauty of the morning to disguise its' dirtiness and ugliness. He personifies the houses with "...the very houses seem asleep" 'All' makes the city seem alive. William Blake's poem conveys his feelings in a more abstract style, when he uses the people and buildings of London to represent the institutions which they are associated with. He uses the image of a church to criticise religious establishments and a palace to signify the state, and authorities who control it. He gives the image of the soldier's sigh running in blood down palace walls. Here he is attacking the monarchy and government for condemning young men to death by sending them off to fight in foreign wars. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is showing that the disease affect everyone because of the importance of the people in the society. The last line uses the image of a 'marriage hearse' being blighted by sexually transmitted disease. Marriage is supposed to be a happy occasion though here it is shown to be an institution that carries people to their deathbeds. This is because marriage is usually seen as an appropriate setting for sexual intercourse which spreads the diseases when infidelity is rife. The Wordsworth poem is slightly less melodramatic in its outlook as it just describes London at one moment in the morning. It has nothing in it that could be interpreted as relating to London's people or what the future holds for them. The Wordsworth poem is made more charged in the penultimate line where he says 'Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;' He is so overwhelmed by the city of London that he feels the need to include god's name. In contrast nowhere in the Blake poem does he use direct speech to heighten any of the emotions. Both these poems, in my opinion, share feelings of concern and disgust for London. The poem that had the most effect on me was the sonnet "Composed upon Westminster Bridge" This is because it is easier to understand and set out much more clearly. The imagery in the sonnet is very effective and gives a good visual image of London in the morning in the late 1700's. ...read more.

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