English 1020 Poetry Essay
22 February 2015
Future of London
In William Blake’s poem, London, Blake uses abstract and sensory imagery to reveal the how life is being lived within the city of London. In 1794, at the time of the poem, London had a complicated mix of failing and prosperous communities. In the poem, Blake reveals, through imagery, the sadness inside of the people living in a failing part of London and also the future of the city as a result of poor governance and misfortune.
In 1794, London was seen as the epitome of a flourishing city. A revolution was emerging; Blake ironically wrote about the slum cities of London. This was his attempt to show the reader that even though the entire city has not been categorized by the things he mentions; if the way things are operated does not change, the entire city will become as perilous as the one the poem is based off of. In the poem, living conditions are described with images that give the entire poem a gloomy and dark tone. Images such as “marks of weakness, marks of woe” (Blake 4), “blackening churches” (Blake 10), and “blood running down palace walls” (Blake 12) indicate again that the city’s inhabitants were experiencing much sorrow and distress. Blood is used here, as a symbol for death. Along with that, there was a lack of faith and support in the church and the city was under poor governance in which many soldiers were dying under the commands of the hierarchy.
In the beginning the reader learns that life in London does not seem to be such a wonderful, flourishing place as the rest of the world would have inferred at the time. Blake mentions that everyone has “marks of weakness, marks of woe” (Blake 4). In every person Blake encounters, their face shows unhappiness and discouragement. In the lines prior to this, the poet mentions how the entire city is “charter’d” even the Thames, or rivers. Indicating how many parts of the city were under control of the government and just how constricted life was for these people. However Blake also leaves room to infer that each person is miserable because they see there is no other way for them to lie. The “menacles” (Blake line 8), or the things imprisoning them make them feel like there is no escape from the miserable life they live.
As the poem progresses, Blake mentions a “blackening church” ( Blake 10) which relates to line above that mentions chimney-sweepers, the church growing black ties it to the blame for the working children’s cries. The church was partly responsible for the chimney cleaning business, which resulted in the church and children (literally and metaphorically) being blackened. As the children slaved away, they became covered in muck from the chimneys as well as growing closer to death. The church was losing is sense of purity and its understood sense of reliance of betterment to society as a whole. This, also, results in a lack of faith growing within the civilians.
The third stanza expresses the soldiers “hapless sighs” (Blake 11), this shows how though the soldier is unhappy, and he cannot change the circumstances. He can only defend the palace that put him in the situation. This results in the next image Blake uses, “blood runs down the palace walls” (Blake 12) indicated how people are dying in the result of poor governance. This is a reminder of the “charter’d” lives in the city, and how people viewed their destiny under the control of the kingdom that reigned.
In the poem…