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William Blake- subject, language and form

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Blake's poems put forward a powerful social message which reflects the time in which he was writing. With reference to at least five of his poems, show how Blake achieves this through his use of subject, language and form In this essay I will be analysing five of Blake's poems which are 'A Poison Tree', 'The Chimney-Sweeper (experience)', 'The Chimney-Sweeper (innocence)' 'London' and 'The Human Abstract'. Each of Blake's poems has a powerful social message, and my aim is to analyse the message he is trying to portray through these poems. The subject, language and form his poems uphold are some of the main devices that help put forward his opinion at his present time, the 18th century. The powerful social message Blake was trying to convey to his readers was human suffering during his era, he showed this through his poems which marks his sympathy. At this day and age modern readers understand Blake as a writer and see the message he is trying to put forth through his poems. Although in his time, Blake was considered very strange. Born in 1757 into a Christian but non conformist London family, most of his life he spent in London. In 1783 he published his first volume of poems. Many changes were taking place in Blake's society, between 1750 and 1850, late 18th century the industrial revolution was changing the society through huge revolutions in technology in England. England changed from a rural population made from agriculture to a manufacturing society consisting of factories. Oppression of women and children was apparent so they worked for lower wages. Employment laws did not exist yet, some may have had to work up to 14 hour days with low wages. Now a days, these things are seen as wrong, throughout the 18th-19th century employing children and women with low wages and others with ridiculously long hours was seen as normal and no action was taken against it by either the establishment, monarchy or church, this caused Blake to be against all establishments which did not try and help the problems 18th century England was facing. ...read more.


In the last stanza rhyme and rhythm is apparent but echoes that of a nursery rhyme again relating to the innocent poem. Rhyming is used "sing" and king" as well as a para-rhyme with the two words "injury" and "misery" the para-rhyme stunts the poem and throws it off a constant rhythm, the effect could convey the boy as troubled and unhappy because of his hardship. Reference to religion and the church "priest" are made, similar to the first poem, monarchy is also mentioned by the word "king" the relevance these references have reflects Blake's writing as Blake did not like the way the church and monarchy largely ignored the problem, it concerned him. The three things Blake felt had failed him, was disappointed in and strongly against is shown through the last line where it says "who make up a heaven of our misery". The blind uncaring nature of the monarchy and church is shown by the line "they think they have done me no injury" The message conveyed in this poem is apparent at the end of the poem where monarchy and the church are attacked and blamed for the cruelty act of chimney sweeping children. How both have power over many yet do nothing to stop it, Blake effectively shows it by putting it in the perspective of a youth as it evokes more sympathy. The structure of the poem is similar to the first poem all stanzas are written in lines of four and a similar message is conveyed where nothing is being done about the chimney sweeping children and the problem is accepted and ignored. The poem "London" gives background to the misery of the poor and the gulf between those in power. The title "London" is a metaphor since it is not solely on the people of London but about society and mankind in general. The man is dazed, wandering the streets and is hearing the cries of the ones suffering "chimney sweeps", sighs of the "hapless soldier and feels the society should do something about them, the man represents William Blake's views. ...read more.


Nature is apparent by the mention of a "caterpillar" and "fly" which feed on the mystery, they could represent the idea of corruption and sickness. Biblical reference is often pinpointed by Blake, "fruit of deceit" this reminds us of the Garden of Eden and the fall from grace. This once more makes the reader see the tree as sinister with the inviting fruit that is actually "deceitful". Mentioning of the raven conveys bad things as it is seen as a symbol of death. The raven is creating a nest with the "thickest shade" suggests mystery and shadows of the "Human Abstract" described. The word "Thickest" shows it's the worst of death and that it is inevitable. The last line of the poem obviously states the concept of the whole poem that the mysterious tree that has been growing made up of cruelty; humility etc is simply found in the human mind. Blake conveys that its existence is metaphorical rather than literal but the use of a tree shows the stages of growth and how the things surrounding it affect the way it is. The last line is very simple, conflicting with the rest of the poem, and accepting of this idea it shows the accepting nature of the society that Blake was surrounded by. The abstract way in which Blake described the human mind is far from clear given life isn't clear so the poem represents a human's life. The next poem is "A Poison Tree" a simple poem able to hold and reveal complicated messages. A Poison tree shares the nature aspect with "The Human abstract" the idea of a tree growing. Although "The human abstract" tree represents good and evil being part of every ones spirit and mind. In "A Poison Tree" the growing tree symbolises the growing of hate when anger is not expressed. The title is a central metaphor; it's ironic because trees aren't perceived as poisonous. The poem "A Poison Tree" is about anger and if kept inside could grow and become poisonous to one and others. ...read more.

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