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Compare the different presentations of London that are found in the poetry of Wordsworth and Blake.

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The poetry of Wordsworth and Blake differ greatly in the style in which they are written, in particular the poetic structure, such as the length of lines and the rhyme schemes. The William Wordsworth poem 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802' was a sonnet written mainly to convey a sense of happiness and good-nature in reference to both London at the moment in time, as well as his mood and outlook on the world and its beauty at the present time. The William Blake poems analysed in this essay are taken from 'Song of Innocence', and refer to the innocence of children and the corruptness surrounding them in the town of London, contrasting to the wonderful sights that Wordsworth describe the city to offer. In 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802', the poem begins with a very optimistic outlook on the appearance of London from the bridge which continues throughout the first octave. The comparison to other cities on Earth is made with 'not any thing to show more fair', where the breaking up of the words not, 'any' and 'thing' emphasise the beauty of London in first impressions, as opposed to simply using the alternative, 'nothing'. Emphasis is also placed in the description of an everyday person who would look upon London and see nothing of Wordsworth's imagery as being a 'dull' man. In further reference to extravagance, the effect of referring to the city as a whole as 'majesty' is very regal and the freedom of such a city is very promising to the reader, as opposed to the restriction and confinement of the community of Blake's 'London', from 'Songs of Experience'. The simile 'like a garment wear' is used in the fourth line in reference to the city of London to give the impression of superiority that the beauty was only to be worn by London and no other. ...read more.


The corruptness is also brought through with the slight reference to magic in line three using the euphemism: 'with wands as white as snow'. The magic is a reference to misconduct and control, which also seen in the first stanza of 'London' and the colour of white is used ironically against the wands to show purity and goodness within the Church, who seems to be outwardly condoning magic and witchcraft. Another usage of the river Thames is used in the last line of the first stanza in reference to the children entering the Church, where both the Thames and the children are freely moving into an area where it will eventually be controlled by something or someone, in this case the beadles/masters. 'O what a multitude' of 'flowers of London town' represents the children as a whole and shows the colour and innocence they have, but is later juxtaposed to the seating in 'companies' which is a restraint on the children, compared to the 'mind-forged manacles' of the everyday person in 'London'. The lack of freedom is then contradicted again with 'radiance' of the children, symbolising their liberty and innocence being childlike and it cannot be taken from them because it is 'all their own'. Blake then used the biblical word, 'multitudes', to describe the seating arrangements of the children within the church walls and is used with double entendre, in the meaning that the children of innocence were seated like 'lambs' (supposedly an allusion to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God), but are seated in a way which their innocence can easily be sacrificed amongst beadles (supposedly a suggestion to the meaning of Abraham and the sacrificing of the lamb for God). ...read more.


Being very different from Wordsworth's opinion of London as a visitor, Blake's outlook on London's children and their treatment is descriptive in the poem. In the third stanza, the child is accused of blasphemy and is taken by priest to be made an example of. 'He led him by his little coat, and all admired the priestly care' demonstrates the corruptness and controlling nature of the Church on individual beliefs is strict. When the priest 'bound him in an iron chain, and burned him in a holy place', the enjambment of the last three verses emphasises continuity of the process. The repetition of 'the weeping parents wept in vain' in the fourth and fifth stanzas shows that the parents could not do anything to save their child but cry and pray. In the final stanza, the first two lines emphasise the reality of the situation, stating the Church as being a place 'where many had been burned before', and questions the reputation of Church as a house of God if there are 'such thing done on Albion's shore'. 'The Sick Rose' is not a poem which directly refers to London in a literal manner, but the meaning of the poem can be perceived as having a bearing on the perception of London. Blake instantly addresses the rose in the opening line, personifying the rose as an animated being, possibility a person. 'The invisible worm' is a symbol of something in the air which we can neither see nor touch in the air, but the worm can destroy, much like the image painted when a worm is found within rotting apples. The concept of a small blemish destroying its vicinity could be a reference to London in the way the community lives and how it could lead down a long line of consequences in a 'sick' London. ...read more.

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