Essay on Explication of William Blakes Poem London

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Explication of William Blakes Poem London William Blake’s poem “London” takes a complex look at life in London, England during the late seventeen hundreds into the early eighteen hundreds as he lived and experienced it. Blake’s use of ambiguous and double meaning words makes this poem both complex and interesting. Through the following explication I will unravel these complexities to show how this is an interesting poem.

To better understand this poem some history about London during the time the poem was written is helpful. London was the “. . . undisputed cultural, economic, religious, educational, and political center” of England in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. It was a city of “warehouses, docks, factories, prisons,
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Other rhyme techniques noticed are the rhyming end lines that follow an ABAB pattern. This rhyming helps the poem flow and move along.

The first use of repetition can be seen in the first two lines, with the word “chartered” (1-2). In this case the two words both have the same meaning but this is not always the case throughout the poem. Blake uses “chartered street” (1) and “chartered Thames” (2) to describe public places to which everyone has rights and privileges (chartered). Another meaning of “chartered” (1-2) that becomes more obvious as we read further into the poem is that of a chart or map. Webster’s dictionary says a chart is a sheet giving information, form this we can deduce that the Thames or streets have information to give (chart).

The last two lines of this first stanza have more repetition with the words mark and marks. The speaker “mark(ing)” (3) every face is noticing the features or characterizing the people he meets. The speaker than “marks” (4) or sees a visible clues. What the speaker sees is “weakness” and “woe” (4). Woe can possibly be seen visually as in sadness, sorrow, or grief on the peoples faces, but weakness is not really a visual sign. From Websters we find weakness means lacking in strength or vigor (weakness). We learn later in the poem that this weekness is not referring to physical strength but to mental strength.

After traveling about the public streets of London near the Thames river and
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