Flashcards in London by William Blake (1794) Deck (12):
The poem is Blake's testament to what is happening in his time. French Revolution is referenced and it places the poem firmly in history. The city of London represents a place where social injustices are allowed to take place under the umbrella of industrial progress.
Form and Structure
The poem has a strict ABAB rhyme scheme in each of the four even stanzas which contain 4 lines. The four stanzas each offer a glimpse of different aspects of the city almost like snapshots seen by the poet during his 'wander through' the streets.
The use of the term suggests that the streets he walks are controlled and rigid. He is not walking in a free, open field, but a mapped out area.
'Marks of weakness, marks of woe.'
The term 'mark' is repeated to create rhyme.
Alliteration of 'w' seems to emphasise the melancholy of the scene.
'In every cry of every man...In every voice, in every ban.'
The term 'every' is repeated to create rhythm. The word is also used to emphasise how many people he saw in that particular state.
' Mind-forg'd manacles'
This is a metaphor. There are chains so the speaker is saying the people are chained by their own minds. They are trapped, restricted and have limited freedom.
The black faces of the chimney sweepers reflect the amount of pollution there was at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Black also suggests the misery in the peoples faces as the church do nothing to stop the misery.
The church is supposed to care for the most vulnerable the church is expected to be a place of refuge and safety.
The speaker reveals how the corruption of society attacks innocence. The harlot/prostitute is young but has lost her innocence out of desperation and need. In this period in London 1 in 5 or 20% of women were said to be prostitutes. Her curse id the sexual transmitted infections she passes to men who then bring them home to their wives and then their new born children.
Alliteration of 'b' to be angry and spiteful.
This is the high infant mortality rate; disease leads to a negative view on marriage.