London by William Blake and Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth
This essay aims to compare and contrast the differences and
similarities between the two poems 'London' and 'Upon Westminster
Bridge'. They both create powerful, contrasting images but are both
similar in the use of language and exaggeration. The first poem to be
commented upon is 'London' by William Blake, written a couple of
decades before the second poem written by William Wordsworth.
William Blake negatively describes London and uses the first person
narrative to make it seem as if it were him wandering the lonely
streets of London. He creates a woeful and miserable impression of the
capital city of England.
"I wander thro' charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow"
Looking at the first two lines of the first stanza, he brings the
negative theme to life by repeating the word 'charter'd' which
suggests a feeling of restriction among the people, as if they are
bound by the government or new laws. He uses the first person as if he
is miserably strolling through 'each charter'd street' beside the
flowing river. The marks of woe he describes in line four of this
stanza could actually be referring to facial scars as most people at
this time in history suffered from various diseases.
"And mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe"
The second stanza continues the idea of restriction and being
controlled. Perhaps this is about the strict charter placed upon
London at this time. Blake uses the repetition of the word 'every' to
attract attention to the misery and to create both a sense of fear and
of interest. He uses the metaphor 'mind forg'd manacles' which means
imaginary chains weighing down the people of London. This is another
exaggeration of the feeling that the miserable people of are wandering
around the streets with chains attached to them. These chains are
purely imaginary on Blake's part, exaggerating his bitterness and
negative opinion of London.
In the third stanza, Blake criticizes the Church with the following
"Every blackening Church appalls"
I think he is actually criticizing the Church leaders, saying they are
hypocrites for ignoring the problems faced by the people of London. He
uses the word 'cry' again which indicates the hardships that people
endured. He also mentions the cry of an unhappy soldier and accuses
the Palace of purposely ignoring this problem. The soldiers who risk
their lives in war to protect their country feel that they have very
little or even nothing worthwhile to return home to after the war. I
think he could also be referring to the cries of all the people of
London and the whole situation, not just the remorse felt by the
"How the youthful Harlots curse,
Blasts the new-born...