London by William Blake

Decent Essays

The poem “London” describes a person wandering around the streets of London who comments on the observations they are making on the life surrounding them. The speaker presents the social and political injustice that occurred in the city of London highlighting the differences between the wealth of the ruling classes and the poverty facing the common man. It is one of the few poems in the “Songs of Experience” that does not have a corresponding poem in the “Songs of Innocence”.

The first stanza creates the sense of hopelessness, misery and confinement. The speaker seems to be lost as they describe themselves “wandering” through the “charter’d streets” of London and near the “charter’d” Thames. The word “charter’d” refers to the mapping and regulating of business and ownership in London, thus every aspect of the city has been sanctioned and organised by the ruling class. The repetition of the word “charter’d” in the first two lines emphasises how the streets and the river are no longer free therefore that London indeed is a strict and confined place. Synecdoche is used to generalise the people of London, by referring to them as “faces". In these faces the speaker “marks” signs of “weakness” and “woe”. The repeated word mark has two meanings. In the third line it means to observe and in the fourth line it represents the signs on the people’s faces, grief, weariness and pain. Repetition of the words “charter’d” and “mark” emphasise the words message which is that the city life

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