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Compare How Both Poets Use Language To Present Their View of London

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Introduction

Compare How Both Poets Use Language To Present Their View of London London was, is and undoubtedly always will be, a city of enormous interest and controversy, especially for those employed in the field of writing. The two poems, 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge', 1802, by William Wordsworth and 'London', 1794, by William Blake, demonstrate this through their opposing views. The intention of both William Blake and William Wordsworth was to portray their own deeply felt views of London in their poems. They exhibit contrasting perceptions of the city based upon their conflicting observations, and, indeed, their very different literary aims. Blake depicts a gloomy perspective in his poem, 'London', whereas Wordsworth's tone is bright and buoyant and he paints an optimistic picture of the city in his work, 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge'. Blake chooses to describe London at night, 'midnight streets', so that he can reinforce the theme of London's murkiness - representing a dark and dismal city, full of misery. Wordsworth, on the other hand, describes London in the morning, 'The beauty of the morning', and expresses his admiration for its architecture with, 'towers, domes, theatres and temples lie ... All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.' He writes that London is incomparable, indeed, he describes London with the intensity of emotions directed towards one beloved, which contrasts with Blake's bleak portrayal of the very same metropolis. The two poems use similar literary devices, but to very different effect, to describe their thoughts about London. ...read more.

Middle

Clearly, Blake is making a comment on the dehumanisation of Man, who is open to the powers of nature and society, which he views as ultimately repressive. Blake is also making a point about opposition, especially to political and social control, which incurs violence. Therefore, it is as though violence, in one form or another, is itself inescapable in the struggles of life. Stanza four finishes the poem at a ferocious pace, with lines 13 and 14 using enjambment, which emphasizes the power of the verb 'blasts'. The word 'blasts' is linked with 'blights' through alliterative sound, which intensifies the sense of savagery. They are also both onomatopoeic, which again exaggerates their impact. The most aggressive verbs are found in the conclusive stanza, reinforcing the violent theme. The image in the last verse is also the most horrific one: young prostitutes are portrayed as placing curses on their customers by transmitting diseases to their clients and so to their respective wives and children, thereby making the marriage bed a 'Marriage hearse'. This savage oxymoron is a most effective yoking device, linking the act of love, a life-giving force, to death. The implication is that no one seems to care about any of this - the authorities do not have a truly human face - and perhaps Blake is questioning what it is to be human. William Wordsworth, on the other hand, uses literary techniques to portray a charming and entrancing London, full of splendour, tranquility and serenity. ...read more.

Conclusion

By using the rhythm and the rhyme in a uniform style, the theme of the poem is reinforced - that of monotony of life in London where there appears to be no respite from depression and despair. Wordsworth's, 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge', is a sonnet in which the octet (8 lines) and sestet (6 lines) utilise an ABBAABBACDCDCD rhyming scheme. Wordsworth uses the longer lines of the lyrical sonnet form to ensure that the reader reads the poem slowly, and the clear and resultant intention is that the reader should relish his view of the city. Yet, Wordsworth also uses the sonnet form here as if it were still associated with love and nature, the typical components in his poetry. Whilst reading the two poems, one gathers a sense of the different ways the two poets have manipulated language to fit their theme and view. The two starkly contrasting poems use vocabulary, structure and imagery to stir opposite emotions in the reader, but of the same city. Perhaps these differing views stem from the poets' own backgrounds: Wordsworth was brought up in a middleclass home in Cumbria, where he attended a grammar school. The Lake District was no doubt the inspiration for many of his poems telling of the beauty of nature. Blake, however, was born and lived in London, and eked out a living as an engraver. He was surrounded by industry, constrained by the nature of human beings and the quality of institutional organisation. The reader senses these different lifestyles when reading the two poems and observing their use of language. Charlotte Peak 4/12/03 ...read more.

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