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Compare the poets(TM) attitudes to, and the presentation of, the city in London and Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept 3, 1803

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Introduction

Compare the poets' attitudes to, and the presentation of, the city in "London" and "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept 3, 1803" The two poems, 'London' and 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge', show two different perspectives of the city and its inhabitants. Both poems illustrate the poets' views on London which are quite diverse yet still have similarities in their respective outlooks. 'London' portrays Blake's views about the city and the people that inhabit it as a direct comment on the oppressive, industrialised, hierarchical society in which it was written, emphasizing some of the key themes of the poem including suffering, corruption and devastation. In comparison we see the poem 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge' in a very different light. It demonstrates the beauty of the city and its freedom describing London as a majestic sight. These poets from the Romantic period in literature believed that children were innocent and uncorrupted, vulnerable yet a source of hope, "A child more than all other gifts that earth can offer to declining man, bring hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts". Both poets convey their anger and concern about the corruptive influence that the older and more powerful members of society had on the rest of the population. ...read more.

Middle

As well as this Blake uses the traditional form of alternate rhyming lines to replicate the repetitive predictability of the circle of suffering. Another key contrast between the poems is the volume of people around the city. Blake uses the technique of repetition to reiterate and emphasize that this suffering is everywhere. We see this when he writes, 'In every cry of every man... In every voice, in every ban.' This gives us the impression that the poem is one of protest and the word 'ban' in particular suggests an anti law attitude from Blake and a view that people's freedom is compromised. Freedom is a key theme demonstrated in both poems however in completely different ways as Wordsworth presents the city with freedom whilst Blake portrays a city where its people and even children are enslaved. This is conveyed when he writes, 'The mind-forged manacles I hear.' This suggests that it isn't just external restrictions that were placed upon the people of London, but they themselves allow those in power to place the restrictions by not fighting the injustice of it all and so the people are now powerless to change anything. ...read more.

Conclusion

This complies with the normality of the sonnet technique, as most have a subtle change in either rhythm, pace or tone after the 8th line. In conclusion, both poems depict different views of the city, however unlike Blake's 'London', Wordsworth's 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge' contains underlying ideas and beliefs that I feel play a key role in revealing Wordsworth's feelings and outlook. A key idea in Wordsworth's poem is that, although things such as the city appear beautiful and free, this is not necessarily the reality. This conveys a contrast of appearance vs. reality. This is different to Blake's outlook that clearly portrays the suffering and corruption found in city life. In some aspects the poems, when read together, could be interpreted in a manner that Blake's 'London' is exposing the hidden city presented in Wordsworth's poem. The two poems share many common themes including corruption, freedom and restriction, facade and truth. Both writers, in my opinion, are criticising every aspect of society and together depict a strong message that society produces confines and corruptions in people and institutions. It's interesting to consider what Wordsworth and Blake would make of the big brother, nanny state in which London now exists. ...read more.

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