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London Analysis



Author: poem of William Blake Type: poem Views: 166

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I wander thro' each charter'd street.

Near where the charter'd Thames does flow

A mark in every face I meet

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.



In every cry of every Man.

In every Infants cry of fear.

In every voice; in every ban.

The mind-forg'd manacles I hear



How the Chimney-sweepers cry

Every blackening Church appalls.

And the hapless Soldiers sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls



But most thro' midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlots curse

Blasts the new-born Infants tear

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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it might also be about 911 it mentions crying midnight which the concrete dust would turn day into lots were crying

| Posted on 2017-09-12 | by a guest


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it might also be about 911 it mentions crying midnight which the concrete dust would turn day into lots were crying

| Posted on 2017-09-12 | by a guest


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| Posted on 2017-02-28 | by a guest


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The people of London are described as being weak and full of woe as the marks on their faces reveal. There is a repetition on the word "marks" which again stresses the despair and tiredness that they seem to be going through because of their oppressed way of life.
Being a mystical person himself, Blake uses the expression "marks of woe" in an almost religious sense. He is being the onlooker in this poem and as he walks past he can see the weakness and misery marked on the faces of the passers due to their helplessness at not being able to bring about any changes in their destiny.

| Posted on 2014-04-28 | by a guest


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it seems that when he says " marks of weakness marks of woe" he means that no one is what they appear to be on the outside but if you look deep at who they are you see these " marks" and see the real them.

| Posted on 2014-03-23 | by a guest


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Has anyone else noticed the slope form of stanza two? Could be suggestive of some sort of social hierarchy or a gradual descent into poverty and despair. Any ideas?

| Posted on 2012-03-28 | by a guest


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The \"marraige hearse\" in London is indictment that marraige has been destroyed not only becuase men are using these child prostitutes but also that they are then taking diseases from these women and giving them to their wives. It also could be because there is no hope for a society where sexual licentiousness is displayed in such a horrible form, Blake believed in free love but he did not believe in exploitation.In London, children were having to play a role that even grown women should not be. The \"marraige hearse\" exemplifies thus society\'s moral decay.

| Posted on 2011-11-10 | by a guest


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The song \"History\" by The Verve is based on this poem

| Posted on 2010-10-11 | by a guest


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i am a ba (prog). and i have disipline english . i just want to ask that what the meaning of ( and blights with plagues the marriage hearse

| Posted on 2010-09-18 | by a guest


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i am a ba (prog). and i have disipline english . i just want to ask that what the meaning of ( and blights with plagues the marriage hearse

| Posted on 2010-09-18 | by a guest


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what does blake exactly mean by "marks of weakness,marks of woe" ?? please help!!

| Posted on 2010-06-06 | by a guest


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i am studing for my gcse exams and even though i am young i can still tell the comments are a load of crap.

| Posted on 2010-04-05 | by a guest


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I have been asked to explain the double meaning of the line ''in every cry of every man''. I know this line is conveying sadness but can someone help m to explain the double meaning please...

| Posted on 2010-02-07 | by a guest


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"Marks of weakness, marks of woe" can I have an expansion to the meaning of this quote, thanks

| Posted on 2009-11-24 | by a guest


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I am in love with the best man in the planet!!!!
I am also in love with the best in the universe, God!!

| Posted on 2009-11-23 | by a guest


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The poem London, by William Blake, gives a very tragic, and moving view of London and its inhabitancies. The poem, gives the impression that London is a very deprived and uncaring city. It shows also how London is a controlled and corrupt city, and shows how the weak are not going to rebel purely for fact that they are mentally restricted, Blake simply takes the more common and satisfying view of London and replaces it with his own idea of truth. The poem also shows how industrialised London had become. Chartered street is an example of this. Chartered means to be given over to the use of business or rent. Just as the Thames River had become chartered with boats and such. He is also stressing the weakness and woe he sees in the faces of people he meets.

| Posted on 2009-06-08 | by a guest


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i need help with my coursework can some one explain what the first stanza is all about and the ambigous meaning of the word'charter'd'

| Posted on 2009-02-21 | by a guest


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“London” by William Blake is a lyric ballad that pushes up against the boundaries of the form, expressing the tension, sounds, and meanings of a degenerate city. The poem is in four quatrains in iambic tetrameter, with a basic rhyme scheme starting a/b/a/b. The poem, originally published in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, show the reader a dark and sad city, a large subject to tackle, and attempts to contain it in a traditional ballad form. This helps illustrates the tension in the poem’s voice, expressing sounds and anger that escapes beyond the boundaries of the poem itself. As Peter Ackroyd remarked, “Blake’s insistence upon tight rhymes and forms is a way of suggesting the limits of the medium he is employing,” (Ackroyd 141). These limits of form help to express the limits and restrictions of London.
Blake is able to have such a compact and powerful poem through the word-choices and figurative language he employs. In the first two lines the speaker describes his wandering through “charter’d streets” near the “charter’d Thames.” “Charter’d” implies a meaning of “given liberty,” but also means that such places are “preempted as private property,” (Norton 56) and that such places “evokes the legal rights and privileges upon which the wealth of the city depends” (Lincoln, 194). More succinctly, the streets and Thames have been “mapped, licensed, controlled, and choked with commerce” (Paglia 59). This rich meaning is quantified by the speakers description of the people that are met in the charter’d places. In lines 3-8, the speaker describes the cry of every man and infant, marks of weakness and woe, and especially the speaker can hear the clanking of the “mind-forged manacles.” These places are where the actual sounds of the restriction can be heard literally. The use of the word “hear” in lines 8 and 13, emphasis that the sounds of the poem are real and can be heard beyond the formal expression found in this ballad. This emphasis on hearing expresses the speaker’s desire for the reader to hear along with the poet, where sounds travel beyond the tight form of the ballad. The actual sounds of crying and the clanking of manacles cannot be contained within an iambic or rhyming form; they are sounds that are free, informal, and uncontainable.
The use of “mind-forged manacles” is a rich image that expresses so much in such a little space. The image brings to one’s imagination a mental restriction is in place upon these people of London. But “mind-forged” implies they are created internally in one’s person, but “manacles” bring to mind chains that are placed on someone by one in authority. This image shows the tension between internal and external forces that take away liberty, similar to the earlier use the word “charter’d.” Ackroyd points out, “’manacles,’ like ‘charter’d,’ was one of the radical code words of the period that was directed at the oppression of the authorities” (157). By using this rich and multi-layered word, the image breaks beyond the form of the poem and expresses both the oppressor and oppressed in London.
In the next stanza of the poem, the tension is portrayed by the interaction between victims and institutions. The oppressed are portrayed as actual people while the oppressors are illustrated as empty, dark buildings. In lines 9-10, the cry of the “chimney-sweeper” should be heard by the church, but the “appalls” the church utters are trite and empty, because the church is “blackening,” devoid of light and goodness, but only knows death. The use of “appalls,” bring to the mind the word “pall,” thus emphasizing the black Church as coffin-like, filled with dead power and authority. These two little lines are not only an indictment of the child labor, but shows the impotence of moral authority to do something concerning it. The church oppresses by its lack of action and lack of light. The iambic rhythm in these lines lose their regularity, showing how the content is pushing up against the tight form of the ballad.
The unlucky soldier in line 11, sighs, possibly his last breath whose blood then will run down the walls of government. The sigh is a softer sound than the sounds that are heard elsewhere in the poem. The sigh is faint, because the dying soldier is far away in foreign lands, sacrificing his youth for the monarchal state. This image ties London with the whole world, like this small poem letting it’s ideas break beyond it’s immediate scope of London’s darkness, and shows it has no bounds. And even so the sigh is still powerful enough that it manifests it’s presence in the Palace as blood running down a wall, suggesting the biblical image “the writing is on the wall,” - the poet is a prophet foretelling the government’s eventual fall. This sign like the crying and clanking previously, is also a sound that has no iambic tenor, thus showing again how these sounds cannot be contained with a traditional song.
In the last stanza is filled with amazing imagery and sound. Another victim is brought forward, the “youthful Harlot,” whose diseases will turn marriages into death. The un-poetic sounds return to full force, where the speaker says, “I hear” the “blasts” which attempts to silence the tears of a baby. Interestingly, the speaker gives us a specific time he/she is walking through these streets – at “midnight,” which easily is a physical time, but also a spiritual time that London is stuck in, at the beginning of the apocalypse.
The “marriage hearse” at the end of the poem suggests several things. In the third stanza, the victims had clear oppressors, but in the last stanza does the speaker suggest marriage is the oppressor that drives prostitution? The “marriage hearse” is the wedding carriage that turns deadly due to the harlot’s disease. With “marriage” and “hearse,” it echoes back to the “church” and “appalls,” suggesting marriage is an oppressor of omission. (In a literal sense, it has been suggested by one scholar that the marriage laws promoted prostitution, and the population of female prostitutes at the time of the poem’s publication numbered around 50,000, (Lincoln 193, Ackroyd 157). As Camille Paglia has remarked, “In Blake’s radical philosophy, prostitution is created be religious prudery and social hypocrisy” (Paglia 62).
This image of the marriage hearse shows the tension between form and content. Like the proverbial riding into the sunset at the end of a film, the image of a “marriage hearse” brings is the deathly carriage that is leaving the confines of the poem, and carrying it’s deadly plague to the towns and cities outside “London.”
This poem is a tremendous indictment of London society, and seeks to establish a voice in the wilderness, while at the same time singing a song for those who will hear. By combining this tight form, the poem becomes deceptively easy on the eyes, but as the sounds and images are brought forth to the readers’ imaginations, the poem fully realizes the tension within the society

| Posted on 2008-11-15 | by a guest




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