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How do the poems Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802(TM) by William Wordsworth and London(TM) by William Blake compare with each other?

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Introduction

Pre-1914 Poetry Coursework TASK: How do the poems 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802' by William Wordsworth and 'London' by William Blake compare with each other? Both 'Composed upon Westminster Bridge' and London' describe the city of London but from different perspectives and in different contexts. Both poems were written at the outset of the Industrial Revolution at a time when the British Empire was beginning to flourish. Wordsworth describes the beauty of the city and its river whilst the city is asleep, whereas Blake focuses more on the lives of the people in the city and the appalling conditions in which they must survive. A notable difference between the two poems is their form and structure which, in turn, reflect their content. Wordsworth's poem is presented in the form of a Petrachan/Italian sonnet and the enjambment of many of the lines reflects the free flowing, natural beauty of London and the Thames and the liberty which, according to Wordsworth, the people of London have to enjoy. It is also a reflection of the expansiveness of the city and London's all-encompassing nature. Blake's poem has a songlike quality to it and has a constrained form consisting of largely monosyllabic words, arranged into quatrains of regular rhythm. The form is reminiscent of one of the poem's main themes; an attack on society and the institutions which place these hardships on its people. ...read more.

Middle

The beauty and splendour of the sun rise and the effect that it has on him is emphasised by his use of a comparative as a superlative, "Never did the sun more beautifully steep" (hyperbole). The imagery of the "bright and glittering" building silhouettes is also often associated with paradise and heaven. God is also invoked in the penultimate line which further adds to this paradisiacal effect. The unnatural beauty of the city is further explored when Wordsworth uses regal imagery in describing the sight of the rising sun as being "So touching in its majesty". This regal imagery also gives the impression that London is God's chosen city on Earth to represent him and so any one who can not feel the same way as he does about his snapshot of the city can be accused of being "dull of soul" (poor/dead in spirit). The use of 'temple" as opposed to church is also very significant. Churches are associated with Christianity which was only founded upon the death of Jesus Christ. However, Christ along with God's chosen people were Jewish and Jews did not pray at churches and so the reader is able to understand the sacredness of the city and the idea that God may have chosen it. A final shared theme is the freedom of the London people and the social values that are held. In 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge', the personified river which "glideth at his own sweet will" is a sign of the freedom which the poet believes the people of London can enjoy. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is very different to Blake's 'London' where the focus is more on the sense of hearing and consequently his language and imagery reflect this. In 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge' the atmosphere is one of calm, peace, wonder. The rising of the sun is so magical and awe-inspiring that according to Wordsworth one would have to be dead in spirit to not be touched by the sacredness of the city. Consequently the tone is mostly quite light-hearted and joyous. However this is in stark contrast to 'London' where the mood is grim, forlorn and depressing as a result of all the social evils and injustices being dealt out against the London people. This results in their being and 'firm' and 'hard tone. Jean Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher who lived between 1712 and 1778 and said "Man is born free yet he is everywhere in chains". Wordsworth's and Blake's highly conflicting and contrasting poems each take opposing viewpoints on this claim. Whilst Blake seeks to show that Man truly is confined by society within which he lives and is forced by that society to obey without question the rules which it lays down and the bodies which govern it, Wordsworth is quick to show the reader that the people of London really do have a lot of freedom and, despite the buildings and industrial development, still has its own unique beauty which can be viewed by all. ?? ?? ?? ?? Bharrathi Sarvananthan (11M1) - 1 - Pre-1914 Poetry Coursework essay ...read more.

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