‘I wander thro’ each charter’d street…’
more or less points out that the poem is in fact one of Blake’s experiences, as if he himself is telling a story in a lyrical sense. The words: ‘I wander…’ stand out very much compared to the remaining part of the line. It gives the impression that the poem is a personal feeling of maybe angst or depression of the poet about living in a city such as London consisting of a fairly large population that at times it becomes overcrowded and people are unable to withstand themselves from feeling the same depression as their neighbours would feel. Or perhaps, because of living in the city for so long Blake had witnessed the sadness of his fellow Londoners as the words:
‘And mark in every face I see
Marks of weakness, marks of woe…’
indicate. The technique of which is considerable effective and a tactful approach used by Blake so the reader does not suffer from boredom by usage of the invariable words. The pun of the repetitive word ‘mark’ or ‘marks’, means in the first line it is used, that Blake had noticed the emotions revealed by the Londoners’ faces and taken into account from indication in the second line the signs of weakness and woe that seemed to burden ‘every face’ he saw. His creativity of maybe exaggerating what he truthfully had seen also ‘marks’ the reader with the same weaknesses and woes that can felt by the people being described in the poem.
The next two verses become even more depressing and unfold into a deepening pessimistic view of London and its inhabitants. Blake still exaggerates his views on London, for example:
‘every Man…’, ‘every Infant’s…’, ‘every voice…’
This overemphasis of these nouns also brings out the imagery of the scene about every person feeling what is said in the poem. However the most emphasis is on the line:
‘The mind forg’d manacles I hear.’
This is a good technique used by Blake as the word ‘manacles’ means a device for shackling the hands or something that confines or restrains. In this part of the poem however, Blake indicates that he hears ‘mind forg’d manacles’ which in this poem signifies that he was probably being pinned down or handcuffed in his mind symbolising in a way a form of depression because of the unhappiness which he saw and he himself felt from the cries of men, and the cry of fear of infants and the voices of bans.
The third verse continues the form of dramatic melancholy with the words:
‘How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appals;’
Refers to only one chimney sweep and not ‘every’ chimney sweep, as was the case at the beginning of the poem. Religion is brought into the poem here by references to the Church. However, these churches are portrayed as quite the opposite to what we would probably expect in the twenty-first century. In this poem, Blake conveys them to appal the cry of the Chimney sweep rather than show concern for the boy. Where it says ‘black’ning Church’, Blake could be trying to show that the churches were turning a blind eye to the suffering population of London as the colour black is usually associated with and symbolises death and hard-heartedness in our society.
The remaining lines of the third verse which draws attention to soldiers could imply that Blake was trying to link together the suffering of people to the ‘Seven Year War’ which had affected Great Britain greatly during Blake’s period. In this particular part of the verse, Blake indicates that maybe the number of people suffering extends to the outskirts and beyond London. The last lines of the verse:
‘And in hapless Soldier’s sight
Runs in blood down Palace walls.’
is a good use of imagery used by Blake. It is obvious that the blood, which runs down the Palace walls, is the blood of the dying or dead soldiers. The reason for this particular image is that Blake is trying to suggest that the blood being on the walls of the Palace is another way of conveying that the soldiers of the war had been the Palace’s responsibility and them dying had caused them to be guilty of their deaths and the blood horrifyingly reveals this.
The last verse of the poem seems to portray a very enigmatic view to the reader. It brings the poem to a tense end. Words of destruction are used in this verse, for example:
‘Blasts’ and ‘blights’. This verse tells more of a story than the other verses. It seems to depict the story of a young prostitute ‘a youthful Harlot’ who owns a child of whom she causes to cry and for this reason, as well as her ‘plagues’, which could indicate a sexually transmitted disease, she cannot marry and so Blake uses the last words: ‘Marriage hearse’ showing that she has no chance in marriage because of her problems.
The poem written by William Wordsworth portrays a completely different view to that of William Blake. The poem is considerably optimistic and, unlike the disturbing story Blake was articulating, Wordsworth was giving a description or his account of London and the view with which he could write a poem with. As Wordsworth was a poet who was inspired to write poetry from his love of nature it seemed only a natural thing to do to write an account on what he saw of London while on a coach to France.
The main difference to Blake’s poem on London was Wordsworth’s opening line:
‘EARTH has not anything to show more fair:’
in which he seems also to exaggerate what he sees as Blake had but in a sanguine manner. as Blake also had done, Wordsworth had used imagery about what he saw of London. He uses rich words to portray a more regal city than that of what Blake saw, for example:
‘majesty,’ ‘glittering,’ ‘bright,’ ‘smokeless,’ ‘beautifully,’ and ‘mighty heart.’
The imagery that he used was:
‘This City now doth, like a garment….’ which indicates that like a dress on a woman fits well, the beauty of the City of London also fits the scenery which Wordsworth saw. He had probable seen the City in the morning when everything had been quiet as the words:
‘Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!’ Many people across the world even in the time of Wordsworth would hardly ever refer to London as being calm.
The description of nouns and some by adjectives such as:
‘Ships,’ ‘towers,’ ‘domes,’ ‘theatres,’ ‘temples,’ ‘smokeless air,’ and ‘river glideth,’ create a clam and sweet mood.
The poem is not so much created by the people who live in the City but only of what Wordsworth had seen which then makes the poem unreliable if the reader wants to find out about what the people who live in his poems are like.
He talks also to God about the splendours that he sees and how calm he seems to think London is.
‘Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!’
This indicates that Wordsworth may believe that London is a place where there is opportunity. In some cases this can be agreed but in others it just shows how much a look can deceive.
The poem which affected me most was the poem by Blake. The interesting parts of the difference of these poems were that they were written at different times, Blake’s before Wordsworth’s, and that they both emphasised on different things. Wordsworth’s poem even though very descriptive and managing to capture the reader’s imagination was not as effective as Blake’s because Blake showed more of an insight to London which many of us in our society would and will never see. The way in which he was able to tell the story of only a few people’s lives yet it seemed it was happening to everybody was equally effective. Hi use of imagery and puns made the reader think more about what he was feeling and how he was seeing London more than Wordsworth’s poem. Another interesting perspective of these two poems was the fact that how much the view of a person living in London could differ so much from an outsider looking into the city.