How does "London" by William Blake create a sense of place? 

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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 Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear 

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls 

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear 
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse 
 
The fact that the speaker is walking near the Thames River identifies the setting as London. Although the whole poem consists of only four stanzas, or sixteen lines, it gives the impression of being crowded with people, sights, sounds, and even surrealistic imagery worthy of Salvador Dali. For instance, he says
 
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,

The streets and nearby dwellings would have to be packed with people in order for the speaker to hear that many cries from grown men or even from infants. The speaker offers one impression after another--chimney sweepers, hapless soldiers, blackened church walls, palace walls. It is a veritable panorama of London at night, a panorama of human misery. 
 
The entire poem leads up to what Blake considers the worst phenomenon of all. The lines all have an emphasis on four syllables to simulate the action of walking. For example:
 
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.
 
So when he gets to the last stanza, the stresses bear down on the words:
 
How the youthful Harlots curse
 
These three words, "youthful harlot's curse," seem especially terrible. It is bad enough that very young girls are forced into prostitution, but the fact that they have already learned to curse men who insult or abuse them makes it that much worse.
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