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Compare and contrast William Wordsworth's 'Composed upon WestminsterBridge, September 3rd 1802' and William Blake's 'London'.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast William Wordsworth's 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd 1802' and William Blake's 'London'. 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd, 1802', was written by William Wordsworth, a poet famous for countryside appreciation, in 1802 (on the date given). Like many of his other poems, this is a topographical poem, capturing a landscape view of London, from a bridge. In this poem the poet is able to portray a tone of eulogy, giving praise and enthusing the glamour and splendour of London, at the one specific moment. The poet starts by saying, 'Earth has not anything to show more fair'. This is astonishing, considering that this particular poem is famous for praising nature and its calmness; a complete contrast to London and its normally hectic schedule. The poet then goes on to say 'Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty'. The poet gives the impression that for a person to not be touched by London's apparent splendour they would have to be insensitive, and have to have a deficient heart that was holding them back from appreciating this 'majesty'. 'The city is now doth, like a garment'. The significance of now shows that Wordsworth is writing from a particular point in time, rather than making a generalisation over London life. ...read more.

Middle

However, these marks have two different meanings. These marks are visible to the outside world, and are able to be seen, yet they are also stamps within the people, marks of their suffering, and marks of woe. Their weaknesses and woes are stamped across their face, in a red hot poker fashion, and it is clear to see their sufferings. The poet cleverly uses the 'w' sound to give a smooth feel on weaknesses and woe, however, much to the contrary the poet is not describing smoothness, but instead human misery. Blake then infers universal misery by saying, 'In every cry of every man'. In his eyes these sufferings extend from adulthood back to childhood. The irony however is that men do not usually cry under any circumstances, yet this degree of torment has forced this man to cry out. Also childhood is supposed to be seen as a time of joyfulness, yet this misery has perverted that, and has blighted any childhood chance of happiness. 'In every infant's cry of fear', this helps to expand this perverseness by the fact that infants are supposed to be cherish, and loved, and made to feel protected; they are not supposed to be exposed to fear, yet these infants cant seem to escape it. Blake then come back to this idea of oppression by writing, 'In every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poet is able to see and emphasise with the people, and in a sense feels compelled to write about what he sees. Although 'London', structurally, is a simple poem, it hits very sensitive nerves, and voices a social conscience. This is a seemingly childish poem, with a very adult message. On the other hand, 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd, 1802' (William Wordsworth) is a description of London at one specific moment in time, as the poet sees it. From his view point (on a bridge) he is fairly high up, and therefore is not among the dirt and grit. Also from where he is standing he is able to see the more boastful side of London; the posh houses lining the Thames, the elegant buildings. He also sees the city in a 'new light' and the shining water in the Thames, no doubt, serves to enhance this experience. The poet has a unique viewpoint of the metropolis, and is incapable of seeing the pestilence. Wordsworth is unable to see the slums of London, because he is not in the close quartered, and foul smelling streets. Instead he is in a vast open area, perched on a bridge, before all the industrial work of the day has begun, and before everyone has awoken, 'The very houses seem asleep'. 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd, 1802' reflected on momentary glance of London, whereas 'London' reflected the daily lives of the poor from the eyes of William Blake. ...read more.

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