In Blake’s ‘London’ the speaker connects various characters and socio / political institutions in order to critique the injustices perpetrated in England. The busy, commercial city of London functions as a space in which the speaker can imagine the inescapable interconnections of English institution and citizens. Although separated by differences of class and gender, the citizens of London brush up against each other so that the misery of the poor and dispossessed is a direct indictment of the callousness of the rich and powerful, f the institutions of state and religion. The speaker of the poem emphasizes the social and economic differences that separate the citizens of London. By repeating the word ‘charter’d’, he reminds the reader of the commercial nature of the city, the fact that portions of it are owned, and that not everyone has equal access to goods or property. In the first line of his poem as Blake speaks of how he is wandering through the ‘charter’d’s trees, he is commenting on this commercial aspect of London.
As he moves on in his poem he also refers to the ‘charter’d’ Thames, he is telling us in this second line that even a river which is a force of nature, is owned in London. When Blake says that he sees ‘marks of weakness, marks of woe’ in ‘every face’ he meets, he means that he can see how this commercialism is affecting everyone rich and poor. Yet, despite the divisions that the word charter’d suggests, the speaker contends that no one in London, neither rich or poor, escapes a pervasive sense of misery and entrapment. The speaker talks of how in ‘every cry of every man’ he hears the misery.
Question- Identify a poem that makes a social or political statement. Explain what statement is being made and, with close references to the text, analyse the literary conventions used to convey the statements. Further, explain how this helps you gain a stronger understanding of the poem`s main theme(s). I have chosen the poem London by William Blake; I will explain how Blake is making a social ...
Blake is once again reminding us that this is affecting everyone. As he goes on to comment on he can hear it in ‘every infants cry of fear’, he is saying that even the babies know what is going to happen to them when they grow up and they fear the misery that they will soon face. In the next line of the poem Blake chooses to use a very interesting word. When he writes ‘in every ban’ he leaves the line open to many different interpretations. The word ban can mean a political prohibition, a curse, or an announcement of marriage. The political meaning is an obvious one in this poem, Blake obviously does not like the politics of London and he fells that the commercialism is preventing the people from being happy.
In a way he is also saying that this commercialism is also a curse on the very people who are benefiting from it, because it is preventing them from being truly happy. Another connotation of curse during that time was venereal disease this as well as the connotation of marriage comes up later in the poem and can be found in the last stanza. In the last line of the second stanza, Blake speaks of mind forg’d manacles, this is very important to the poem. Blake is saying that the way the people of London are thinking and feeling is what is holding them down and preventing them from being happy.
The speaker’s emphasis on the interconnectedness of all London’s citizens becomes more specific in the last two stanzas of the poem. In stanza three, he connects the misery of the chimney sweep to the hypocrisy of the church and the suffering of soldier’s to the policies of the state. Blake begins this stanza speaking about the ‘chimney sweepers cry’, he is commenting on the injustices that chimney sweepers were faced with in that time. He then goes on to talk about the ‘blackening church’, he is using the word blackening to say that the church is actually dirtying itself by using these young boys to clean their chimneys.
Blake then moves on to talk about soldiers and how their blood is running down the palace walls. This is a reference to the war with France, Blake is saying that the soldiers are forced to give their lives for the royal family, who stays safely behind their palace walls. In the fourth stanza, the speaker offers the most startling connection between two seemingly separate citizens or institutions. In this stanza Blake speaks of the ‘youthful Harlots curse’, he describes the Harlots as being youthful because many of the prostitutes of that time were young girls with no other options.
William Blake wrote many poems during his lifetime. He had a set of poems called The Songs of Innocence and also a set called The songs of Experience. This paper is focusing on five poems from the Songs of Innocence, which are: "The Shepherd,"The Echoing Green," The Little Black Boy,"The Blossom," and "Laughing Song."The Shepherd" is a very short two stanza poem in which Blake tells about a ...
The curse that he speaks of is venereal disease, this was a large problem in Blake’s time. Disease was spread from prostitutes to husbands and back to their wives. Blake addresses the affects of this disease in the last two lines of his poem. When he talks of how the curse ‘blasts the new born infants tear’ he is commenting on how the disease is spread from the mother to her newborn child. Perhaps the most haunting line of the whole poem is the last, ‘And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse’. Blake uses the word hearse to describe marriage because in many cases the institution of marriage was a death sentence for a young woman.
Disease was rampant in this time and very few husbands showed any kind of concern for their families health, at least not enough to stay away from prostitutes. Blake’s short poem about the city of London is packed with his opinions of the injustices of his time. It is a moving poem, which addresses the pervasive sense of misery and entrapment that existed in the city. For us, it is a window into a not so happy past that existed in Europe during the 18 th century. It is also striking how some of these problems still seem to plague us today.
Blake’s poem ‘London’ is truly a timeless comment on the injustices that so many people in so many societies have been faced with throughout time.