'London' by William Blake is one example of Blake's disapproval of changes that occurred in his lifetime. In his poem "London," from his work Songs of Experience, Blake describes the woes of the Industrial Revolution and the breaking of the common man's ties to the land, which he has brought upon himself. He describes the Thames River and the city streets as "chartered," or controlled by commercial interests; he refers to "mind-forged manacles"; he relates that every man's face contains "Marks of weakness, marks of woe"; and he discusses the "every cry of every Man" and "every Infant's cry of fear." He connects marriage and death by referring to a "marriage hearse" and describes it as "blighted with plague." He also talks about "the hapless Soldier's sigh" and the "youthful Harlot's curse" and describes "blackening Churches" and palaces running with blood. The poem has a simple rhyme scheme of: ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GHGH, as each of the four stanzas in the poem rhyme within themselves.
"London,? like many of Blake's other works dealing with a similar theme, describes living in a society where the cost of living compared with income is steadily increasing, where new diseases are becoming increasingly common, and where the public is becoming ever more disillusioned about the reliability and trustworthiness of politicians. His works illustrate a nation that, due to the aforementioned problems, the rise of violent crime, and other considerations, is rapidly desensitizing itself to the "marks of weakness, marks of woe" and is becoming accustomed to seeing on the solemn and defeated faces of passers-by on the street.
In the first stanza, the narrator refers the str...
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... upon man by society, marriage is a sort of death in man?s ability to be free to do as he wishes.
?London? describes a world during and after the industrial revolution in which there have been many ill-fated side effects stemming from the rise of cities and of industry, as people move away from the traditional farming families and their beliefs. People no longer treat each other with kindness or as equals, instead they exploit each other for personal gain, selfish and unfeeling towards the consequences of their actions for other people. Also, new and potentially deadly diseases are becoming a major problem in the cities, and other illegal activities such as prostitution and crime in general are on the rise.
Blake, William. "London." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. MH. Abrams et al. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company, Inc., 2000
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