“London” is a deceptively “simple” poem, in part because the language is plain, the lines are short, and the imagery is seemingly everyday. Yet the impact of this poem depends on the multiple layers of meaning that Blake expects readers to see in his choice of words and in the associations that readers will make. Furthermore, “London” is included as a part of a larger work: Songs of Innocence and of Experience, a collection of poems that examine and criticize the fallen world.
Because “London” is a “Song of Experience,” it is set in contrast to the images that Blake presented in the first half of the work: “Songs of Innocence,” poems that showed children frolicking, nature in bloom, people happy and loving, a world before Adam and Eve fell—an event that, according to Blake, brought law, government, monarchy, religion, and other “evils” into the world. “London” represents the antithesis to the world Blake showed readers in “Songs of Innocence”; “London” shows readers an urban landscape consisting of buildings. Nowhere in the poem does Blake include a reference to the natural world except to the River Thames, which he characterizes as “charter’d”—owned and bound by British law. In this fallen world nothing is free, not even the minds and souls of the people. Throughout the poem, Blake makes use of layered meanings and references, as he does in the word “charter’d,” which not only means...
(The entire section is 456 words.)
An Analysis of William Blake's Poem "London" Essay
1852 Words8 Pages
In "London", William Blake brings to light a city overrun by poverty and hardship. Blake discards the common, glorifying view of London and replaces it with his idea of truth. London is nothing more but a city strapped by harsh economic times where Royalty and other venues of power have allowed morality and goodness to deteriorate so that suffering and poverty are all that exist. It is with the use of three distinct metaphors; "mind-forg'd manacles", "blackning Church", and "Marriage hearse", that Blake conveys the idea of a city that suffers from physical and psychological imprisonment, social oppression, and an unraveling moral society.
According to William Richey the phrase "mind-forg'd manacles" has two contributors, the…show more content…
The use of the word "blood" to describe the state of walls can convey that the city is also filthy with the greed of upper class citizens such as Royalty (Line 12). Also, that the city could be full of the remembrance of the deaths of soldiers who have died for the purposes of carrying out Royalty orders. Therefore, because the surroundings are so confined and unclean, it reflects and reinforces the distress of ordinary citizens (Richey 2)
Disease is another factor that contributes to the distress of citizens. "And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse" (Line 16). The presence of an oxymoronic phrase places an emphasis on the current state of London's marriage practices. Marriage no longer represents rebirth and purity but is looked upon as costly and unclean. Men and women become careless with their sexual activities and help spread sexually transmitted diseases affecting not only themselves but others and future generations (Richey 1). It is the presence of sexual promiscuity and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases that lead to the death of marriage.
The Church creates woe for citizens by acknowledging and advertising that earthly suffering is permissible because heaven grants rewards to faithful followers who do not complain (2). Since the Church bears so much influence and power, citizens feel they have no other choice but to follow the advice given to them. Many are probably so miserable that their only hope of