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In some of Blake's poems strong feelings are expressed about the society that he lives in.

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Introduction

Gawain Williams In some of Blake's poems strong feelings are expressed about the society that he lives in. William Blake grew up as a conventionally religious person, but when his parents rejected the teachings of the church he began to read the stories from the bible with a fresh mind. Blake never attended school and had a solitary childhood. From the age of four Blades believed that God was speaking to him. . From then on he had many visions of angels and other mystic creatures. Blake was extremely happy when the French Revolution liberated the poor in France from aristocratic rule. However at the same time, Blake saw England being overtaken by a parrallel'Industrial Revolution'. that was destroying the countryside with factories, slums and waste. In this essay I will talk about the poems "London", "The Chimney Sweeper", (from the Songs of Innocence) and "Jerusalem". Blake's poem "London" talks about many things, such as, wealthy people having control and owning most things, such as property. We can see this when Blake says "I wander thro' each chartered street, near where the chartered Thames does flow." By this Blake means that there are privileges for people but only if you are rich. "Chartered" is referring to a document that gave people rights and privileges in return for money or support. Here Blake means "full of privilege" but only if you had the money to pay for it. Blake disagreed with the idea that if you were wealthy you had a right to privileges but if you were poor you had no rights. ...read more.

Middle

For example, the last word of each verse rhymes with the last word of the line before. When my mother died I was very young, And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry "Weep! weep! weep! weep! So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep. This emphasises the innocence of the child saying the poem because it relates to "childhood fun" which the young chimney sweep never experienced. In "The Chimney Sweeper" Blake creates multi faceted images through his use of similes. We can see this when Blake says "coffins of black". This can mean two things, the first being that the young chimney sweeps will end up in one of the black coffins because their job will lead to their death, or it could also mean that the children are in the chimney which is dark and black and which will kill them. A double meaning in a phrase is typically used by Blake to get more than one of his ideas across. Blake uses an interesting structural device at the start of the poem "The Chimney Sweeper" this is the word "SO". At the end of the first verse the word "SO" is put in front of the line "So your chimneys I sweep". This may be putting blame onto the reader; however it is more likely to be society's guilt for allowing it to happen. However, in the last verse "So" is used in the last line in the phrase " So if all do their duty". This is blaming society, the Church, parents and the owners of the children. ...read more.

Conclusion

In all three poems Blake conveys strong feelings about his society. He writes about the misery of poverty, the exploitation of the young and the helpless, the start of industrialisation and the consequences of sexual sin. In all three poems there are strong themes such as , child exploitation, in "The Chimney Sweeper", Poverty in "London" and industrialisation in "Jerusalem" With the poem "Jerusalem" it could be said that it is ironic that a poem that says England is messed up is sung as a patriotic song which says 'I am proud to be English' . It could be argued that "London" is the most important poem out of the three discussed since it talked about the problems of Blake' s time and the same problems still exist today such as poverty, exploitation of the helpless and prostitution. "London" is my favourite poem as it mirrors modern day London. The fact that we still have the same problems within society that Blake saw proves that times have not really changed very much .The wealthy still have the most power and in addition to the problems racism, and refugees, fleeing war and death in their own countries . I Blake saw we now have drugs destroying people's lives, AIDS, think Blake would feel sorrow that all these years later there is still a huge divide between the classes. However' he would be pleased that there is now education for everybody and working conditions, at least in this country, have improved. So maybe his poems did inspire people to question the justice of their own thoughts and actions. ...read more.

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