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Compare the view of London presented in the two poems and explain how it reflects the poet's attitude to the city. Both 'Symphony in Yellow', by Oscar Wilde, and 'London', by William Blake

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Introduction

Compare the view of London presented in the two poems and explain how it reflects the poet's attitude to the city. Both 'Symphony in Yellow', by Oscar Wilde, and 'London', by William Blake, are poems about London. Initially they may appear similar, in that they are both about a similar subject and are written in quatrains, but there are many significant things that set them apart from one another. This could be said to be due to the fact that Blake grew up in London in a fair amount of poverty whereas Wilde grew up in a well-off family out of London. On first glance at the poems one would notice that both of the poems are laid out in a similar fashion. They are both written in quatrains and both have consistent rhyming throughout. 'London' has four quatrains however, compared to 'Symphony in yellow', which only has three. Where, in 'London', the entire poem has completely standard rhyming, 'Symphony in yellow' does not. In the second quatrain Wilde makes 'wharf' and 'quay' stand out because these words are simply sight rhyme to 'scarf' and 'hay'. When the poem is read aloud the quatrain becomes a complete irritant to the reader. This could be Wilde's way of saying that maybe it isn't as beautiful as he makes it sound. ...read more.

Middle

He could be seeing the church blackening with sin or that the restrictions of the church is disgusting him, which links with the fact that Blake was against restrictions. In the same quatrain Blake says 'The hapless soldier's sigh runs in blood down Palace walls.' This links with the French revolution with blood literally running down palace walls, showing Blake's political views, but it also could just be him expressing that all blood spilled by English soldiers was in the hands of the palace and the royalty, thus it metaphorically running down palace walls. In the last quatrain Blake talks of the deaths that were caused by people sleeping with prostitutes and catching venereal diseases. He describes it as being a 'plague'. He also has another oxymoron here by saying 'Marriage hearse' and 'Youthful harlot's curse'. This creates the image that marrying these men, who have been cursed by having relationships with the prostitutes, just leads to certain death. During this quatrain he creates emotion with the line 'blasts the new-born infant's tear', which has been added to cause reaction with anyone who reads it. It causes people to feel empathetic towards the child who will grow up without parents. However, Wilde has a completely different view of London in 'Symphony in Yellow', which may be because he found a lot of success there. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both of the poet's backgrounds are made apparent in their poems and thus reflect the poet's views in how they describe the city. However, it could be seen that Wilde was just exercising his writing abilities as a poet to turn London into something very beautiful. The poems are both successful in their own rights. 'London' was Blake's way of sharing how London was to him. Many people would have seen London to have been the way Wilde did because they had not experienced London in the same way as Blake did in growing up there. Thus, Blake was trying to show how it was corrupted. He managed it through strong, clear imagery. However, Wilde, being part of the Aesthetic movement, believed that he could find beauty in London. Writing it as if from the distance he constructed a poem, which does find aspects of London being described as beautiful with many similes. I found that 'London' was probably a lot more effective at getting Blake's views across, however. It was far more emotive and gave you a much stronger sense of what he had to say than Wilde's 'Symphony in yellow' did because Blake had a much stronger message to put across. In 'London', Blake has some very strong imagery, which allows you to actually visualise, whereas Wilde's poem seems a lot less visual as his comparisons are not as strong. ?? ?? ?? ?? Loren Macdonald 5/8/2007 Completed on: 08/05/2007 at 03:54am Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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