In this essay I will compare two great poems, both written by well known poets. The two poems are: “London” written by William Blake and the other “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” written by William Wordsworth. Both poems have a similar theme which is linked to the capital city ‘London’, these poets also come from similar backgrounds. William Blake was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker, who was born in Golden Square, London, England on 28 November 1757; the third of seven children. He then later died on 12th August 1827 and was buried on the eve of his forty-fifth wedding anniversary – at Dissenter’s burial ground in Bunhill Fields. The other poet, William Wordsworth, was a major English romantic poet. He was born in Cumberland on 7th April, 1770. He was England’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death. He died in Rydal Mount in 1850 and was buried at St. Oswald’s church in Grasmere.
Before I start analyzing the two poems, I would first like to outline the definition of what makes an effective poem. An effective poem is one where the words in the poem describe something so vividly that you can “see” what the author’s describing in your imagination.
William Blake’s poem has four quatrains, each of them consisting of four lines. But as the poem progresses the lines get shorter. There is a regular punctuation; there are some commas and full stops breaking up lines which suggest an outpouring of feeling. There is also a lot of repetition and enjambment as the lines flow on to each other. On the 3rd stanza there is an acrostic of the word “hear”. However, Wordworth’s poem is a sonnet; this means that it has fourteen lines in the poem and ten syllables in each line and also there usually is a strict rhyme sequence. Wordsworth here uses precise language, for example in the third line very precise language was used “A sight so touching in its majesty”. There is lots of punctuation; there are many commas and full stops breaking up lines. Two similarities which the poems have are that they both have a regular structure in terms of punctuation. The poets’ emotions cannot be contained within one line, and therefore must flow into another, leading to enjambment. The main difference between the two poems is that Blake’s poem has four stanzas, each of them consisting of four lines. However, Wordsworth’s poem is sonnet consisting of fourteen lines. The effect on the reader is that Blake’s structure of the poem makes it very emotional, his poem also focuses more on present than the past.
Even though there are a few similarities in how the poems are structured, the language these poets use is quite different. William Blake’s use of imaginative language makes his poem very effective. Blake uses an older style of language in his poem. For example, in the second line of the first stanza there is “….Thames does flow” and also “…The hapless soldier’s sigh”. Here, the word “hapless” means unlucky or clumsy. There is a great deal of repetition of the word “every” which gives extra emphasis. There is also a repetition from the opening line of the first and last stanza, “through each charter street” and “through midnight streets I hear”. However, Wordsworth’s poem uses more precise language. For example “dull”, “touching” and “majesty”, these are all words which make the language of the poem precise. Wordsworth also uses lots of punctuation and enjambment. On the subject of language, there are a few similarities between both poems. They both use some repetition and enjambment which makes both poems more effective. However, the only main difference here is that Blake uses an older style of language compared to the language that Wordswoth uses in his poem. Also, Wordsworth’s poem is more precise.
Although there are similarities in the language used by both poets, the imagery they use is different. Blake’s poem focuses on sadness and also has many gothic verbs. The poem also refers to matter in past and present tense. “In every infants cry of tear”. Furthermore, the last stanza has many gothic verbs, there is also a metaphor, “And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse”. Here, “marriage-hearse” is an oxymoron. The effect of using a metaphor here is that it makes the description exciting and also it will make the readers think about it and choose from many different meanings. There are also many verbs which suggest different meanings.
For example, the word “wandered” suggests that he is lost. However, Wordsworth’s poem focuses on natural personality. For example, “The river glideth at his own sweet will”. This gives nature personality. Wordsworth also uses some very effective metaphors, “…. The very houses seem asleep”. This metaphor suggests that the city is a whole thing. Wordsworth uses many man made objects in his poem, for example, “Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples”. This gives the feeling of a modern day life. Furthermore, Wordsworth refers back to matter in present tense, “And all that mighty heart is lying still”. Between both these poems, there are many differences, Blake refers to mater in past tense but Wordsworth refers back to matter in present tense. Blake also uses many gothic verbs but Wordsworth mainly focuses on nature personality and man made objects. The only main similarity is that both poets use very effective descriptive adjectives.
While the imagery used by both poets is very different, the rhythm and rhyme used is quite similar. In Blake’s poem, the rhythm is fairly structured with a regular rhyme. Overall, the pattern of Blake’s poem is perfect as the structure of the rhyme is A-B-A-B then C-D-C-D etc…The effect here is that it gives a solemn tone to the poem. Furthermore, in Wordsworth’s poem there is a strict rhyme, the sequence builds up to a pattern the reader trusts. For example, in the poem the structure of rhythm is A-B-B-A-A-B-B-A-C-D-C-D-C-D. There is also a steady rhythm which creates calmness. One similar thing is that both poems have a regular rhyming pattern. This adds a serious tone to the poem because regular rhyme builds up a pattern which then leads up to a type of tone, but also suggests that it is a more spontaneous true emotion. However, the main difference here is, is that in Wordsworth’s poem there is a strict rhyme but in Blake’s poem there isn’t a strict rhyme. However, there is more of a regular rhythm. Here, the effect on the reader is that the build of the regular rhythm constructs a solemn tone on the poem.
At first glance, both poems appear to have many similarities in terms of tone. Blake uses more gothic referencing, for example, in the last line of the 4th stanza, “And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse”. The tone Blake use is not full of grief but has a solemn tone. However, Wordsworth’s poem has reminiscence of the present life. The poem is also full of vivid memories. Wordsworth also uses ‘ever-day’ simple images in his poem which makes it imaginative. He also uses descriptive adjectives which give nature personality. Finally, the poem has serious and sad tone. One similar thing is that both poets have created a solemn tone in their poems through the imagery and the rhythm they have used. The tone is also suitable for the subject on both cases. However, the main difference here is that Blake focuses more on using gothic verbs but Wordsworth’s poem is more natural.
Overall, I want to conclude by saying that both pomes are effective on portraying the theme “London”. However, I think that the most effective poem is “London” by William Blake. I think this because Blake’s poem has a great deal more use of vocabulary. For example, on the topic of form and structure, Blake uses quatrains which give a serious feeling. Also, Blake uses some repetition which gives the poem a more solemn, serious tone than Wordsworth’s poem. Finally, I would like to say that Wordsworth’s poem is more natural than Blake’s, and so this makes the poem more interesting and realistic.