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Poetry Comparison

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Poetry Comparison

“Composed upon Westminster bridge” by William Wordsworth and “London” by William Blake express very different feelings about the sights and sounds of London. What are these feelings? Why are they different and how do the words of the poems bring alive these feelings for you?

“Composed upon Westminster bridge” by William Wordsworth and “London” by William Blake are both written about the same place but express very different feelings because of their views on London.

“Composed upon…” presents the city as a calm, beautiful place full of magnificent buildings whereas “London” has a dark concept and Blake writes about London as an unpleasant, unwholesome city full of chaos and people with no morals.

William Wordsworth’s poem, “composed upon…” is rhapsodic and joyful and extremely enthusiastic about London. The poet uses language “a sight so touching in it’s majesty” and punctuation “all that mighty heart is lying still!” to show how shockingly beautiful he finds London- The exclamation mark symbolises enthusiasm and astonishment and gives us a sense of just how much of a positive impact London has had on the poet’s feelings.

“London” however, by William Blake is a complete contrast and gives a negative impression of a city dominated by “marks of weakness” and the “cry of every man.”

The two poems are so different because of the separate messages they are trying to convey. This is why they describe different effects such as people instead of places, sights instead of sounds and vice versa.

Both Blake and Wordsworth use the Thames in these poems. “Composed upon…” says that “the river glideth at it’s own sweet will.” This suggests that the river flows according to where it wishes to go and personifies the river to give it a sense of independence and control- the river is natural however there is a feeling of autonomous power and status towards it. On the other hand “London” is the complete opposite of the first poem and describes the river as “chartered”, implying the river and London in general are restricted because the rivers path is planned and fixed into one place. This implies that it therefore confines and inhibits the city.

“Composed upon…” is used to describe the beauty of the buildings situated throughout London and the poem “London” mentions “the chimney sweepers cry.” These are related because the chimney sweepers were a group of children that were bought from their poor families and hired to maintain and keep the chimneys of the homes of rich people clean. They were often mistreated and neglected by their “buyers,” and the conditions where they worked in were extremely unpleasant. Comparing these two quotes shows the contrast between the two poems because the first only portrays the superficial exterior of London whereas the latter signifies the debauchers and human suffering that goes into preserving a “bright and glittering” London.

“Composed upon…” and “London” both include royal related words to describe the city however in contrasting ways.

“Composed upon…” tells us London is “a sight so touching in its majesty.” The word “majesty” is used to show a sense of respect and grandeur because it is usually associated with monarchy and people with power.

”London” uses the association with sovereigns in a completely different context, displaying grandness in a negative aspect, saying, “the hapless soldier’s blood runs down palace walls.” This refers to the Napoleonic war, where the royal family forced soldiers to enlist in a war with a high certainty of death. It shows us that London is tainted in every place and even the grand, beautiful palaces are disreputable because of the pain they afflict on the people that live in the city.

Another example of this type of contrast between “composed upon…” and “London” are the references to holy places.

“Composed upon…” tells us “temples lie open unto the fields... bright and glittering in the smokeless air,” creating an image of a clean, peaceful, almost biblical setting and a city full of sanctified buildings. In contrast, William Blake’s poem uses powerful vocabulary to signify the churches’ unwholesomeness. We can interpret “Every blackening church appals,” in two different ways. The phrase infers that the church buildings are polluted and that the pure places in the city are being fouled by the dark, industrial smoke, which is dissimilar from Wordsworth’s description of an unpolluted London.

The second interpretation is that “blackening” is referring

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