Explore the different ways the poets describe the city of London intheir poems.
Explore the different ways the poets describe the city of London intheir poems. You should consider the poems equally and use the textsto support your ideas.
The poems ‘London’ by William Blake and ‘composed upon WestminsterBridge’ by William Wordsworth are both a description of the same city,however they both take opposite viewpoints when describing their ownperception.
In the poem ‘London’, Blake takes a negative view of the city. Hepresents the people as being unhappy, in the first stanza he talks of“marks of weakness, marks of woe” this suggests misery and perhapsfailure. The negativity is emphasised by the repetition in thesentence and the alliteration on the w. Wordsworth however sheds adifferent light on the city, immediately showing appreciation. He usessome quite royal and perhaps religious language such as “majesty” and“temples”. This is a suggestion towards the beauty underneath thenormal images of London, portraying the city as being like a kingdom.It brings in the idea of belief, opposing the idea of “weakness” inBlake’s poem ‘London’.
In this poem, Blake talks of a “black’ning church” this suggestspoverty and destruction. Blackened literally by the smoke andpollution in the air, and perhaps blackened metaphorically by themisery within the city. The colour black immediately brings badthoughts to the mind, thoughts of danger and despair. On the contrary,Wordsworth appeals to the reader’s senses by describing the sun as“bright and glittering in the smokeless air”. This differsdramatically to Blake’s description as it brings a bright sense ofcolour to the mind and a feeling of warm…
… is there a different perception of the city between the poems,but a different time of day, and a different effect on it’s readers.
Both poems end on incredibly different notes, Wordsworth sums up thesplendour of London using the line “and all that mighty heart is lyingstill”. This suggests that the peace in the city is always there, evenwhen the bustle of the city awakens. ‘London’ however, ends with anegative tone, speaking of a young prostitute; this creates a veryemotive and powerful end to the poem. Outlining the distressing viewof the city.
In comparison, although both poets are relating to the same place,they describe them as being totally different, based on their ownopinions. This could be because of the time of day or perhaps becauseof their own experiences but their imagery both shed totally differentlight on the city of London.