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Compare the three romantic perspectives of London, and show how each poet's attitude towards his subject is reflected in his poetic style.

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Introduction

Edward Eaton Compare the three romantic perspectives of London, and show how each poet's attitude towards his subject is reflected in his poetic style. Blake, Wordsworth and Byron are all romantic poets, and characteristic of the movement, their poetic style reflects their reaction to not only the physical world, but the political world as well. During the romantic era, 18th to 19th centuries, there was much political upheaval and conflict, including the French Revolution and Industrial Revolution, which ultimately led to a conflict between industry and nature. It is this subjectivity for the subject that adds depth to the romantic style, and as the three London poems show, wide variation. William Blake gives a very negative description of London with it's "charter'd streets", "youthful Harlots", "weakness" and "woe". The dark imagery he uses such as the "Marriage hearse" all contribute to a general picture of death, depravity and corruption. Blake also makes his views clear by using strong political undertones, and his disgust at what London has become. ...read more.

Middle

Instead of giving London's inhabitants something to be proud of, it is merely an obsolete object of a once great power, and another authority Blake is critical of. Byron looks at London in a more objective way, but like Blake also criticises the city. Instead of bitterness with the authorities, he is more dismissive, and implies that a "mighty mass of brick, and smoke" is a poor symbol of man's achievements. He says that London is merely "a wilderness of steeples peeping on tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy. As in Blake's poem, we are given an image of a "dirty and dusty" city, "as wide as eye", a city covered with a blanket of smog. This "huge, dun cupola" acts as a "foolscap crown, on a fool's head". Although the poem is not political in the sense of Blake's poem, it is more satirical, and Byron dismisses the town, and although acknowledges the vastness of the city, describes it as a fool, and merely a collection of "alchymic furnaces" and "tax and paper". ...read more.

Conclusion

Whilst Wordsworth and Byron concentrate more on the physical appearance of London, such as the masts, domes and steeples, Blake focuses on the sounds and smells of London. Sound plays a crucial part in his description of life in the city, and we are given a picture of chaotic din, with infants crying and chimney sweeps calling. The three poems engage the audience very differently, and poetically the Wordsworth and Byron are longer, more prose-like poems. The difference between Byron's Ottava Rima structure, Wordsworth's octet and sextet against Blake's four short stanzas helps to show Blake's strong feelings for the town as it is clearer and breaks the poem up into separate descriptions and opinions. Indeed Byron can include more information on the subject in his structure of Don Juan ("who saw not all this [London]"), and to an extent can concentrate on information and sentiment, whereas Blake and Wordsworth concentrate more on feeling. Although the poems are all from different perspective and individual experience, it is more the poet's subjectivity that creates the difference between the three poems, whether it is strong political views or an admiration of nature. ...read more.

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