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With close reference to historical, social, cultural and literary background, compare Blake's " London" with " Composed on Westminster Bridge" by William Wordsworth.

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Introduction

English coursework With close reference to historical, social, cultural and literary background, compare Blake's " London" with " Composed on Westminster Bridge" by William Wordsworth. Both these poems are part of Romanticism, a movement that lasted from 1750 to 1870. This movement was characterised by the freedom of thought and expression, relied on the imagination and subjectivity of approach, and an idolization of nature. Often the desire to be free of convention and tyranny and the concern with nature and natural surroundings brought about a general Romantic dissatisfaction with the organisation of society. This feeling of oppression was frequently expressed in poetry, especially by William Blake and William Wordsworth. In both poems, the background, social, and cultural statuses of the poets are reflected in their picture and view of London. Blake speaks of a working class London, he talks of Chimney sweeps, youthful harlots and plague, this is the London that he is experiencing everyday, he does not describe himself as being different to these miserable souls. Wordsworth on the other hand, describes ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples. He is describing the wider view he has of London; he does not see the smaller back streets of London, only the majestic monuments. ...read more.

Middle

This poem also uses alternate line rhyming to create the effect of order and silence, and to accentuates Wordsworth's feeling that London is only asleep. In the Blake, the structure helps the immense criticism of London reach a critical climax, as the most critical verse is the last one, in which Blake describes the marriage hearse, and the newborn infants as being contaminated with the "harlot's curse" which can be suggested to be sexually transmitted disease. In the Wordsworth, the structure helps to transmit an image of beauty and perfection, reflected in it's perfect rhyming sonnet pattern. Both poets use different symbolism to convey their ideas to the reader. Wordsworth shows his feelings for London in a figurative way. He personifies the sun, river and the city. He allows them to perform human functions such as wearing clothes. He continues this simile giving the river 'a will', something which is unique to people. He says '"The City now doth like a garment wear the beauty of the morning" this gives the impression that the city is alive, not just an inanimate collection of buildings. I interpret this personification to mean that the city takes the beauty of the morning to disguise it dirtiness and ugliness of the day. ...read more.

Conclusion

Marriage is supposed to be a joyful occasion though here it is shown to be an institution that carries people to their deathbeds. The Wordsworth poem is slightly less melodramatic in its outlook as it merely describes London's beauty at one moment in the morning. It has nothing in it that could be interpreted as relating to London's people or what the future holds for them. It only describes the precise moment of beauty he sees from Westminster bridge, there are however signs that this peace will not last, and that movement and noise will soon erupt as the city wakes up, the exquisiteness of London will have disappeared. The Wordsworth poem is made more charged in the penultimate line where he says 'Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;' He is so overwhelmed by the tranquillity of London that he feels the need to invoke gods name. In contrast nowhere in the Blake poem does he use direct speech to heighten any of the emotions, as his intense criticism and negative thoughts, give of very strong emotions in any case. Both these poems, in my opinion, share feelings of concern and apprehension for London. The Blake poem keeps its criticism more clear-cut ad direct. I believe that the point of the Wordsworth poem may be to leave it up to the reader to decide whether the poem is sarcastic or not, and it can be misleading in this way. ...read more.

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