London - William Blake

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  • London
    • Context
      • Published as part of 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' as a 'song of experience', reflecting the more negative aspects of life
      • Written during the Victorian Era, when Blake lived, which was a time of great poverty and change
      • blae both lived and worked in london so was very familiar with the poor conditions in the victorian era
    • Negative Emotions
      • "marks of woe"
        • the people passing him have felt so awful for so long that they are marked by the pain they felt, they are unable to disregard it and forget it
      • "the mind-forged manacles"
        • the people of London feel imprisoned and in the captivity of the people of power in London, like the church and government and have therefore trapped themselves in their own mental cages, hence "mind-forged"
        • Untitled
      • "black'ning Church"
        • Oxymoron, the churches are usually clean and pure, however the churches of London are becoming dirties and corrupted, affecting everything in the city, especially the people
      • "how the youthful Harlot's curse"
        • the young women have turned to prostitution as their source of income and use vulgar, angry language to express their disbelief and hatred of their conditions and situations due to the corruption of the powerful figures, as well as society as a whole at the time
    • Sense of Place
      • structure and form
        • the poem is in four stanzas with four lines in  each, this could reflect the repeating, cyclical nature of the events inferred in the poem, the more corrupted the powerful people get, the more miserable those under their reign become
        • the poem has an abab rhyme scheme, again repeating throughout the four stanzas, this could show the repeating and constant nature of the misery and destruction of joy in the city
      • "I wander thro' each charter'd street"
        • the streets of London are under the control of the government and, although they may be his home, they are in no way his, the government has mapped out and taken excessive control over the streets
        • the idea of the speaker wandering through the streets gives off the idea that he is aimless in his actions and doesn't have an end destination, he instead seems to be observing a place he knows well, but has not taken the time to understand and truly notice yet
      • repetition of "every"
        • gives off the idea that he knows or can begin to understand everyone he passes, showing he has knowledge of the area and that it is common to him
      • "black'ning Church"
        • a place loved by many of the inhabitants of London is becoming corrupt and dirtied, a place which was a beacon of hope and light to many people has become the issue
    • Pain and Suffering
      • structure and form
        • abab rhyme scheme throughout, shows the rhythmic, unchanging nature of the cities issues and problems
      • "marks of weakness, marks of woe"
        • the repetition of the idea of people's faces being marked implies that the misery could be seen biually in each person face he sees, without even speaking to them, he knew they were miserable
      • repetition of "every" in stanza two
        • emphasises the point that not a single person passes him who isn't miserable and sad
        • "every cry of every man"
          • men are usually portrayed as having strength and being warrior-like, its not very manly to cry, showing the true amount of suffering felt by men in the city
      • "how the youthful Harlot's curse"
        • young women in the city have become sex workers in the city, despite them being "youthful", showing the poor conditions and opportunities, as well as them cursing, showing their rage and lack of care as to whether they're heard or not
    • Links
      • Power and Control
        • Ozymandias
        • Hawk Roosting
      • Welfare and Living Conditions
        • Living Space

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