WILLIAM BLAKE (part 3)
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.
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.
- What is the setting of the poem?
- What does the speaker see in the people's faces?
- Explain the metaphor in line 8.
- What three examples of 'weakness' and 'woe' does Blake give in stanzas 3-4?
- Which words in stanza 3 personify government (monarchy) and religion?
- Why is the church "blackening"? What meaning does the word imply?
- How do you understand the meaning of lines 9-10?
- Why is the palace covered with blood (line 12)?
- Why is prostitution a serious problem of the society? What does the poet mean by "plagues"?
- How can you describe the mood of the poem?
- 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.
- Which of these themes does the poet refer to in this poem?
childhood; war; religion; monarchy; laws; prostitution; family
- What statement does he make about each theme?
- Which poem by William Wordsworth does the beginning of "London" remind you of? How is the poem different?
- Which poem by William Wordsworth has the same setting? How is the poem different?
- What is the main idea of the poem?
C. Learn by heart either "London" or "Tyger" by William Blake.