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Compare 'London' by William Blake and 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd 1802' by William Wordsworth.

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Introduction

english london poems As a part of my coursework for GCSE English, I will be comparing two poems written about London in nineteenth century. The two poems I have chosen to write about are: 'London' by William Blake and 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd 1802' by William Wordsworth. Both poems give their own, different accounts of London at around the same period. One is written with a happy and joyous mood and the other a completely opposite one - a dull and grim mood, which is given by Blake. Starting with William Blake's background as a poet, I researched that he had a very eventful lifetime, which perhaps influenced his poems. For example, Blake was very religious. He lived by the bible and based some of his paintings (as Blake was also an artist) of the book of Revelation, such as his work "The Red Dragon and the Woman of the Sun". It is also said that he had been visited by angels at a point in his life. Is this to prove that he was somewhat deranged or is it his imagination? Blake's poem 'London' describes a London where everything has rules or boundaries. We can see this where Blake tells us of the 'charter'd street' and the 'chartered Thames'. We can see the connection of this stanza and the fact that rules were pinning every body down, with the word chartered. Chartered means something is on the map, almost as if it is owned, owned by the king, perhaps. ...read more.

Middle

Chartered, chartered, mark, marks --> STANZA 1 Every, every, every --> STANZA 2 There is also a build up of emotion throughout the poem, slowly growing in intensity, stronger and stronger, to finally thrust the message home. It develops into a more dense and furious form, to give the reader a shock element. In the end, this poem gives us a view of controlled actions and motions via the content and the construction. As for the second poem, 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3rd 1802' by William Wordsworth, we see an instantaneous difference of opinion to the City of London from Wordsworth. He has composed a poem with an awareness of the beauty of the conurbation. Wordsworth praises all the architecture, air and surroundings of the capital wonderfully. However, what is really interesting is that he is actually contradicting what Blake is saying in the previous poem (or vice versa). For example, the phrase 'smokeless air' does not support the account Blake gives the reader. Every black'ning Church apalls Blake's line, here, tells us that the air of London was so polluted with the smoke from the coal fires of the homes of the Londoners that it blackened the walls of the buildings. Why is it that two different poets, seeing and describing the city at roughly the same period have two different views? The river glideth at its own sweet will Furthermore, we see that Wordsworth says the opposite to Blake by saying the Thames is free and flows at its own accord, not owned as Blake is saying. ...read more.

Conclusion

In question of which version is most like our London as we know it today, I would say a bit of both poems, but mostly Blake's. The reason being that the City of London in 2004 is a retro, beautiful city with towering skyscrapers, touching the sky (Wordsworth), however, the Thames is still controlled (Blake) by the Thames Barrier, St Paul's is a blackening church (physically - Blake) and the air of London is polluted (Blake). Not forgetting, finally the fact that there are still prostitutes (Blake) in the city. Furthermore, London is expanding out to the natural part of England, the rural area, where all the fields that Wordsworth is talking about are being consumed by the wave of concrete and tarmac of the modern city of London as we know it today. Additionally, the smog that Blake describes in his poem is not present anymore - of course there is the pollution from the cars of today, so we could assume that to be a connection to Blake's description. That is why I feel the London as we know it today fits in with Blake's portrayal as well as Wordsworth's, but in the end, the reason that London is such a beautiful city (in my point of view) is because there is an effort to save some greenery in the city, to balance the conurbation in aspects of both human and natural elements. e v a n g e l o s f a n i s 2 0 0 4 1 page ...read more.

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