London - Poetry Analysis
In this poem, Blake is trying to dispel the myth of grandeur and glory associated with London and to show the 'real' people of London and how they felt. London was seen and portrayed as a powerful and wonderful city where the wealthy lived and socialised. However, Blake knew that London was really a dirty, depressing and poverty-stricken city filled with slums and the homeless and chronically sick. To reveal the truth, Blake combines description of people and places with the thoughts and emotions of the people. For example, the second stanza says:
"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"
Blake combines the descriptions of the crying baby and man with the observation that the people oppress their hopes and dreams, figuratively 'chaining up their minds' because they know that they will never be able to achieve their dreams. Another Example is in the third stanza when Blake describes the crying chimney-sweep and then the "blackning church", but is really saying that the church does not want to dirty its hands by helping the soot-covered [black] chimney sweep. Therefore, a "blackning church" is one that helps the common, dirty people, and Blake says that "every blackning church appalls", showing that the aristocracy and those in positions of power did not want the church that they supported associating with the common people.
Throughout the poem, Blake uses fairly simple language, punctuated with the occasional obscure word, but generally the more common words, probably to appeal to the common people who he was supporting through this poem.
In writing this poem, Blake is trying to make the reader understand the truth about London and understand about the 'real' people, and he is also encouraging the church, and the aristocracy to help the common people and to support them instead of pushing them away and disregarding them.
All of these things are not surprising, considering that Blake was born and lived in London in poverty from 1757-1828. He was a republican and was against the monarchy and probably the aristocracy who supported them, and is said to have had his own version of Christianity. Knowing this 'frame of reference', it is not surprising that he wrote a poem such as 'London', because he was talking about things that he knew and understood.