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Discuss the views of London presented in the poems 'London', by William Blake, and 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802', by William Wordsworth.

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Introduction

Coursework March 2003 Discuss the views of London presented in the poems 'London', by William Blake, and 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802', by William Wordsworth Both the poems, 'London', by William Blake, and 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802', by William Wordsworth, were written at the beginning of the nineteenth century to portray the poets' feelings about London. This period of time experienced the beginning of the industrial revolution and a huge growth in population, due to new medical equipment. Each of the poems take a different approach to describing London., for example, Blake's poem mainly describes the people of London, while Wordsworth concentrates on the natural beauty of the city. Both poets use the structure of their poems to emphasise their feelings about London. 'London' is written in the structure of four stanzas, each four lines long. Each line of each stanza has the exact same number of syllables, which creates a very rhythmic effect. Blake uses an alternate rhyming scheme, and this makes the poem sound like it is being sung. In each stanza, Blake criticises a different part of the city, and this creates a very pessimistic view of London. For example, in the third stanza Blake writes, 'And the hapless soldier's sigh, Runs in blood down palace walls'. Blake clearly didn't think too highly of London. Although he lived there during his childhood, his attitude suggests that London is a very evil city. ...read more.

Middle

Blake tells us that the institutions that they are associated with trap the people of London. In the first line of 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802', Wordsworth cleverly gives the reader a choice. He leaves it open to the reader to decide whether it is an optimistic or pessimistic view of London. He writes, 'Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty'. The optimistic approach to this sentence is that Wordsworth could be implying that London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and that no one could simply pass by it without admiring its beauty. The pessimistic view however is that Wordsworth could have been using sarcasm in saying that London was 'so touching in its majesty'. This view clearly has to be taken into account as we do know that Wordsworth did truly love the Lake District where he was born, and the chances of him saying that London was the most beautiful place he had ever seen is highly unlikely. However, in my opinion, I think that he was complimenting London by writing this highly controversial line. This is because, all together, the poem is written in a very complimentary manner. Wordsworth uses the following line to later describe London, 'All bright and glittering in the smokeless air'. ...read more.

Conclusion

They tell us that Wordsworth feels very positively about London, while Blake's view is very pessimistic. However, saying this, Wordsworth's poem doesn't say anything about the people of London. It only mentions its features and landscape. Wordsworth is fascinated about the calmness of London in the morning. He writes, 'Dear God! The very houses seem asleep'. This is a very powerful line as he is so amazed by the tranquillity of the morning, that he even feels it is important to address God about the matter. In this line, Wordsworth's emotions are exposed to the reader. As a contrast, this type of powerful emotion is not shown in Blake's poem. This is maybe because Wordsworth was going through a very important stage of his life, as he was just about to visit his son, who he rarely saw. Both the poems are about the poets' interpretations of London. It is very interesting however, because when Wordsworth returns from France later in 1802, he sees London in a different light. The poem, 'London, 1802', written by Wordsworth, shows completely different views about London than in his earlier poem. Blake's poem is extremely critical towards London, as in nearly every line the city is undermined. Ironically, Wordsworth's view of London is more pleasant and complimentary than Blake's, and this is unusual as he came from the Lake District. Both poems express different opinions about London, but my favourite has got to be 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802'. This is because the style in which Wordsworth writes allows his feelings towards the city to be interpreted in more than one way. ...read more.

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