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Poetry Assignment

In William Blake’s poem "London", the speaker conveys London as corrupt and corrupting . The speaker presents his image of London through his many "wander[ings]" through its streets. He notes the despair of "every" Londoner and their oppression by the "church" and the state. In everyone the speaker passes he sees signs of misery and moral weakness. In fact, the speaker is one of the oppressed and exploited Londoners and he conveys his moral indignation through diction and metaphor.

That power of diction is achieved in good part through repetition. Notice how 'charter'd' appears twice, 'mark' three times and 'every' a total of seven times. Coupled with the repeated use of 'and' gives an atmosphere of distinct oppression to the poem. 'London' singles out the Church for their part in this oppression. " Every face I meet" and " marks of weakness, marks of woe" shows that different societal groups are singled out to show how they were controlled. Also the use of the word "every" through out the poem shows that corruption has affected everyone from infant to elder. By using the word "how" at the beginning of the third stanza the speaker acquires an accusing tone upon the "Church" and state because they are contradicting themselves. Also by the repetitive nature of the poem the speaker achieves a respected viewpoint on London’s situation.

The poem is rich in symbolic meaning. The 'mind-forged manacles' represent the disturbing sounds of clanking metal chains which were common during this time period. Also the image of manacles and cuffs are hammered into peoples minds. The young boys in the lower class system were given the task of sweeping chimneys therefore classified as chimney sweepers. By doing this their skin became stained from the soot, which connects them to the African people who were also suffering. The "Church" is "black’ning" because their job is to be charitable to everyone, but their h...

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