Blakes and Wordsworth’s poems, although based on the same subject, are very different. One of the reasons for this is the very different upbringings of the poets. William Blake was born in 1757 and died in 1827, the third son of a London hosier. He lived in poverty all his life. He was a poet, painter and engraver. William Wordsworth was born in 1770 and died in 1850. He was born in Cokermouth, Cumberland, Cambria. He studied at St. Johns College, Cambridge and graduated in 1791. His poems often focused on nature, children and the poor. He became poet laureate in 1843. Both lived during the time of great social change known as the Industrial Revolution.
The poem “London”, as the title so clearly states, is about London and was written in London. Blake uses repetition as his way of expressing anger at the social class divide in London. In the poem the end of every other line rhymes, ” street” and “meet” and so on. The poem is about Blake “wandering” through a “chartered street”. He describes meetings with the poor. In the second stanza he continues to rhyme the ends of every other sentence. He repeats the word ” every” three times. He mentions the ” mind formed manacles”. This means that the poor peoples minds are restricted, that they cannot think for themselves. This is an attack on government-imposed censorship.
In the next stanza he talks about child labour. “How the chimney sweepers cry.” He also writes about the church and condemns them for being corrupt. ” And every blackening church appalls”. He is also attacking them for ignoring the suffering of the poor. He then goes onto criticize the fact that soldiers are fighting for the greedy nobility, and not in defense of their country. He sums it up in a metaphor ” soldiers sigh runs in blood down palace walls.
In the final stanza the writer reveals to us that he is walking at midnight. ” How the youthful harlots curse,” tells us how a young woman has been driven to prostitution and “blasts the new born infants tear” shows how even a newly born infant, who should not know sadness, is affected by the conditions. He then goes on to compare marriage to death ” blights with plagues the marriage hearse”
“Composed upon Westminster Bridge” was composed while Wordsworth was admiring the view from Westminster Bridge. “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” is a sonnet with fourteen lines and ten syllables in each line Wordsworths view of the city is evident from the opening lines of the poem. “Earth has not anything to show more fair” From this we can tell Wordsworth thinks that London is the most beautiful place on Earth. “Dull would be he of soul who could pass by”. He is saying that you are “dull”, boring and uninteresting if you do not look at London while passing through.
Wordsworth uses a lot of personification, metaphors and similes in his poem. In his first personification he writes that the city wears the light like clothes. ” The city doth, like a garment wear.” He then goes on to describe London ” Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie open to the fields and to the sky.” In the next line Wordsworth describes the buildings of London as “bright and glittering in the smokeless air.”
” Never did the sun more beautifully steep.” Wordsworth means that the sun never did justice to a city more than it did to London not even ” in his first splendor valley, rock or hill” He then goes onto describe how the city installs in him a ” calm so deep.”
As he gets to the end he seems to get swept up into an ecstasy of joy as he exclaims “Dear God!” His joyous feelings reach a crescendo as he writes a personification comparing London to a sleeping person: “That mighty heart is lying still.”
There are many similarities between the two poems and many differences as well. Both poems use personifications and metaphors to get their emotions across to the reader. Blake writes, ” Runs in blood down palace walls” and Wordsworth writes, ” that mighty heart is lying still.”
In conclusion, even though both poems have different layouts and views of London, they are alike in many ways. Most notably the use of similes, metaphors and personification.