"London" and "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge"

Essay by geoffreykun January 2005

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"London" and "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge"

In the poem "London," the author, William Blake, describes the misery of poor people in London, such as chimneysweepers, soldiers and harlots, to reveal the scene of exploitation and social injustice and to express his hatred of the city's moral darkness with a melancholy tone. However, in "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," William Wordsworth portrays, in a delighted and tranquil tone, the beauty and peace of a London's morning seen from Westminster Bridge to show his love to the city and his yearning for peace. These two authors both embody their views in visual images, but they create totally different effects in tone and theme by the techniques of word choice and imagery.

In "London," the author uses a lot of powerful repetition and words with connotations of suffering. For instance, the word chartered is used two times in the first two lines.

This word alludes to even the streets and rivers suffering under political oppression, and the word hints at the miserable and dark life of chimneysweepers, soldiers and harlots in the following part of the poem, who are all poorly paid. In lines 3-4, the word mark is used three times to describe the facial expression of people. The marks are of weakness and woe, which shows the miserable feelings of the oppressed. The author writes what he sees in London, and establishes the somber tone of this poem in the first four lines. In the next stanza, the speaker hears the misery of people in every cry, voice and ban. The four uses of the phrase in every emphasize the depth of the poor people's misery, and "mind-forged manacles" reveals the great repression of the lowest classes by the church and the king in line 8.