London By William Blake Poem
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear
How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse
“London” is a poem written by ‘William Blake’, who was known as an English poet, painter, and printmaker of the early Romantic era. The present poem London was published in Songs of Experience in 1794. It is a post-industrial poem which throws light on the ill effect of industrialization. After Industrialization, the rich class began exploiting the working class. In the poem, the poet talks about the psychological as well as physical exploitation of the poor people by the rulers, the priests, and the rich people.
About The Author
William Blake’s most renowned work in poetry is Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, Poetical Sketch and Jerusalem considered one of the leading poetic works of the Romantic era. His world-famous poem includes – The Lamb, The Tiger, A Poison Tree, The Chimney Sweeper, and Holy Thursday. A great critic of the 21st century Jonathan Jones says about him:
“Far and away the greatest artist Britan has ever produced.”
Structure of The Poem
The poem has a total of 16 lines which are divided into four stanzas, known as quatrains, and the rhyme scheme of each quatrain is ABAB.
Analysis of The Poem
In the first stanza, the poet says both the land and water(Themes) are now under the control of the government. There is no freedom in accessing or using them. It throws light on how nature is now controlled and restricted by the upper class for its own benefits poet further says:
“And mark in every face I met,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe”.
Here the poet says that he finds marks of sorrow and distress in the face of every poor whom he meets in the street.
In the second stanza, the poet shows us, Men cry because of poverty, bad living conditions, restrictions exploitation, etc. Infants cry because most of them are born of prostitutes. They lack parental love and proper nutrition. They fall ill and die. Poet uses cries instead of protests because the poor, the infants, and all the underprivileged lack education and cannot protest against the system. They just cry like children because they don’t know how to raise their voices.
In all these voiceless cries the poet finds psychological imprisonment and suffering which is not visible. The poet finds this deep suffering among the poor class by listening to their cries and watching them being restricted in streets and water.
In the third stanza, the poet brings to light how the church and rulers exploit the people. During that time, the church would use to make the orphans work in the chimneys because they could go into the chimneys. The church is described as blackening because of two reasons – first, they made the children work in the chimneys black and dirty, and then black and dirty, and the second church did wrong by exploiting them. Hence, the Church was not the “House of God” but a dark or “Evil place”.
In the next two lines, the poet describes the exploitation of Soldiers by the rulers. Soldiers are commanded by the rulers. They are also unable to revolt against the system.
In the final stanza, the poet talks about another important section of the poor class which is the prostitutes. After the industrial revolution, prostitution was the only option for poor women to feed their families. And with this came sexually transmitted diseases which were inherited by their children.
The last line also means that the disease spread by prostitution spread among the men who further spread them to the whole family and all this happens in a cycle. “Industrial Revolution” lead to a population explosion in cities, drastic migration of people from rural areas to urban areas, war, poetry, etc. The Soldiers died and their wives, mothers, and sisters had to involve in prostitution to feed their families, Similarly, the women belonging to the poor section also had to do the same and this cycle goes on.
Thus, the poem “London” sums up the whole picture of society by describing the condition of London and how every bad thing is linked to the effect of the industrial revolution.