Poem Analysis: William Blake - London

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William Blake - London Blake's speaker has a very negative view of the city. For Blake, the conditions faced by people caused them to decay physically, morally and spiritually. For Blake, buildings, especially church buildings, often symbolised confinement, restriction and failure. In this poem, the lines "the Chimney-sweeper's cry / Every blackening church appals" provide an association which reveals the speaker's attitude. Money is spent on church buildings while children live in poverty, forced to clean chimneys - the soot from which blackens the church walls. To Blake, this makes a mockery of the love and care that should characterise the Christian religion. The poem has a total of sixteen lines which are split into 4 paragraphs with a rhyming AbAb pattern throughout the poem. In the first paragraph it is with sarcasm that Blake describes the sights he sees as he walks through the streets of London. The repetitive use of the word "charter'd" stresses Blake's anger at the political times and his feeling towards the ruling classes with their controlling laws and oppressive ways. He taunts in the poem to say that it is not only every street they want to control but even the River Thames which should normally be free for all but in this case it too is "charter'd". The poem focuses on the social and political background of London and highlights differences in the wealth of the ruling classes and the povertyfacing the common man. Free speech is curtailed to avoid Londoners following the example of their French counterparts. The people of London are described as being weak and full of woe as the marks on their faces reveal. There is a repetition on the word "marks" which again stresses the despair and tiredness that they seem to be going through because of their oppressed way of

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