Looking closely at ‘London’ by William Blake and ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’ by William Wordsworth, compare and contrast the two ways in which city of London is presented and described by these two poets. In this essay I am going to look at the perspectives of William Blake and William Wordsworth towards the urban city and rural countryside, focusing on ‘London’ by William Blake and ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’ by William Wordsworth. Both poets were in the romantic movement, and both express their own views, ideas and opinions regarding romanticism through the language and structure of their poems.
The romantic poets believed strongly in the beauty of nature and the power that nature has over the imagination. Romantic poets saw nature as a creative stimulus inspiring them to view the world in more depth and detail than any other person could. The movement of the romantics was happening during the French revolution and the Industrial revolution. The romantics were highly critical of these revolutions and contrasted the stained industrial civilisation with the unblemished elegance of nature.
The organic environment of the countryside was frequently contrasted to the filthiness and desolation of the manmade cities, which were rapidly growing with the Industrial revolution. In ‘London’ Blake puts across his view of London’s streets at night, whereas Wordsworth’s ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’ describes London in the early dawn of morning before human activity has disturbed it. The two poems are both individual and told from a exclusive perspective of the two poets, however they give remarkably contradictory views of the urban city.
The way in which London is described in both poems is very definite and put across in incredibly different ways. As both poets are romantics you could expect the poems to be of the same variety, however this is not the case. In Wordsworth’s “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” the language is blissful and uses nature and scenery as a incentive to show the emotions of contentment and tranquillity. Whereas in Blake’s “London” the language is dismal and negative, this invokes emotions of misery and hopelessness. The first poem I will be analysing is “London” by William Blake. This poem is written in a regular, flowing rhythm.
Each stanza is composed of four lines, which are made up of seven or eight syllables each. This is a controlled formation which symbolises the tightly controlled ” chartered ” formation of London at this time. The feeling of being trapped in this civilisation is presented through the regular and repetitive pace of the stanzas. These repetitive stanzas symbolise the fact that in Blake’s opinion London had no individuality and character, as the whole city was identical. The poem repeats the word ‘every’ multiple times, this shows that Blake thought that everything was very cyclical.
In the first stanza Blake uses he words ” I wander “, this implies that this poem is written about his own personal experiences and thoughts. ” Wander ” suggests he is walking in a disorganized way, with no real direction. In this stanza the word ” chartered ” is also repeated, this is emphasising the fact Blake feels London is controlled and mapped out. As Blake describes the scene he uses the word ” mark(s) ” more than once to emphasise the point that the whole city is blemished and imperfect. There is also alliteration in this stanza. ” marks of weakness, marks of woe”.
the word woe is also further emphasised by being the end word in the stanza which rhymes with the end word of the second line. In the second stanza the first three lines are started in the same way ” in every “. This is done because Blake wants to show that everything is the same not just some things. Another repeated word is ” cry “, this is an emphasis of what he can hear as he walks through London. He can hear the same sounds. In this stanza there is also strong metaphor ” mind forged manacles “. this shows that the people of London have created their own chains, and blemished their own imperfect lives.