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  A. Listen to the poem and read it.


I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every black’ning Church appals;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new born Infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

thro’: through
charter’d : implies a meaning of "given liberty"
(charters are documents granting rights to powerful individuals or organisations; practically, they restricted other people's rights of movement, trade etc.)
flow: move smoothly
ban: an official statement ordering people not to do sth.
forg’d: to forge means to form hot metal into different shapes with a hammer
manacles: metal rings fastened around a prisoner's wrists or ankles and joined by a chain
appal: to shock deeply, to fill with fear, terror
hapless: unlucky; doomed to die
harlot: an old word meaning 'prostitute'
curse: 1) an offensive word or phrase 2) words used for causing bad luck
blast: hit, damage
blight: spoil, cause serious damage or harm
plague: disease causing death and spreading quickly to a large number of people
hearse: a large car used for carrying a dead person in a coffin

B. Answer the questions.

  1. What is the setting of the poem?
  2. What does the speaker see in the people's faces?
  3. Explain the metaphor in line 8.
  4. What three examples of 'weakness' and 'woe' does Blake give in stanzas 3-4?
  5. Which words in stanza 3 personify government (monarchy) and religion?
  6. Why is the church "blackening"? What meaning does the word imply?
  7. How do you understand the meaning of lines 9-10?
  8. Why is the palace covered with blood (line 12)?
  9. Why is prostitution a serious problem of the society? What does the poet mean by "plagues"?
  10. How can you describe the mood of the poem?

  11. An oxymoron is a compact paradox, one in which two successive words (usually adjective-noun or adverb-adjective) apparently contradict each other.
    Find and explain an oxymoron in stanza 4.

  12. Which of these themes does the poet refer to in this poem?
    childhood; war; religion; monarchy; laws; prostitution; family
  13. What statement does he make about each theme?

  14. Which poem by William Wordsworth does the beginning of "London" remind you of? How is the poem different?
  15. Which poem by William Wordsworth has the same setting? How is the poem different?
  16. What is the main idea of the poem?

C. Learn by heart either "London" or "Tyger" by William Blake.