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Compare the different views of London presented by the two poets. Refer closely to the text in your answer. 'London' by William Blake and 'A View From Westminster Bridge' by William Wordsworth.

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Introduction

Compare the different views of London presented by the two poets. Refer closely to the text in your answer. The poems 'London' by William Blake and 'A View From Westminster Bridge' by William Wordsworth were both written around the turn of the 19th century. Both describe London in very different ways, highlighting the aspects of London's alter ego. Blake's poem is a scathing attack on both the city and its inhabitants. In contrast, Wordsworth's poem reflects the aesthetical value of the scene. The craft employed by the poets helps to reflect the difference in tone between the two poems. In Blake's poem, London is brutally painted as a dark, dirty, disease ridden and deprived place. He does this by describing the people who live in this 'hapless' city and the 'mind forged manacles' that bind the people to their lives of misery. Wordsworth's poem describes a scene in the early morning of the view from Westminster bridge .It uses grandiose imagery to describe the '...beautiful' '...majesty' of the city and praises both nature and man's achievements, and how they can co-exist harmoniously 'the beauty of the morning; silent, bare, /ships, towers, domes, theatres'. ...read more.

Middle

In contrast nowhere in the Blake poem does he use direct speech to heighten any of the emotions. Wordsworth's poem uses words like 'glideth' and 'smokeless air' to give a sense of calm tranquillity to his words. This makes me feel peaceful and almost sleepy as the words flow along in an almost dreamlike fashion. William Blake's poem conveys his feelings in a more abstract style, when he uses the people of London to represent the institutions, which they are associated with. He says 'the hapless soldier's sigh runs in blood down palace walls.' Here he is criticising the monarchy and government for condemning young men to death by sending them off to fight in foreign wars. It is obvious from words such as 'woe' and 'appals' that Blake is disgusted with what he sees in London. The reader would undoubtedly feel great pity for the people of London at this time. The poets use different symbolism to convey their ideas to the reader. Wordsworth shows his feelings for London in a figurative way. He personifies the sun, river and the city. ...read more.

Conclusion

The last line uses the image of a 'marriage hearse' being blighted by 'plagues.' This image in my opinion is the sexually transmitted disease. Both poems show very different feelings towards London. You would have to compare them to other texts of the time to see which is more accurate though I believe it is Blake's poem. If I had to pick which I preferred I would choose the Blake poem. Wordsworth's poem is indeed very beautiful and profound in its testament towards the beauty of London in the early morning. But Blake's poem has a deeper meaning as with the imagery of the sexually transmitted disease. It also describes London from the eyes of its people whereas Wordsworth's poem only speaks of the 'beauty of the morning' and no people are mentioned anywhere. So where Wordsworth is perhaps looking at the scenery with rose-tinted spectacles or hankering after a by-gone age, Blake depicts the reality of the newly industrialised London and all its woes. I believe this is the main defining difference between the poems and that this contrast makes it very difficult to rate one above the other as their strengths lie in different places. Emlyn Roberts Pluto 10x 1 ...read more.

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