Please analyze the meaning and effect of the language (including poetic devices), form, structure, and context of "London" by William Blake and "Composed upon Westminister Bridge" by William Wordsworth.

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In "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge," Wordsworth appreciates the beauty and stillness of London seen from a bridge in the soft light of the early morning before the city is fully awake. In this sonnet, a poem of 14 lines, he uses a regular rhyme scheme of ABBA in the octet (first eight lines) and ABAB in the final sestet. He employs the literary device of imagery—description using the five senses of sight, taste, sound, touch, and smell—to convey the calm loveliness of the city at dawn:

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky

Wordsworth also employs the literary device of simile, a comparison using like or as, when he likens the early morning city to a "garment," and he emphasizes the way the serene scene moves him emotionally through exclamation: "Dear God!"

Blake's "London" is a sharp contrast to Wordsworth's poem about the same city. Blake's verse consists of four quatrains and, like Wordsworth's sonnet, uses a regular, pleasing rhyme scheme: ABAB. Blake, like Wordsworth, uses imagery to paint a picture of London, but his London, awake and teeming with life, is a place of pain and sadness, not a place of serene beauty. Such images as the following show the suffering in people in the city:

Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

Blake uses as well the literary device of alliteration, which is when words beginning with the same consonant are placed near each other, to emphasize bleak words in the poem such as "weakness" and "woe." He paints a picture of a city where both adults and children suffer, filled with prostitutes ("harlots") and death ("hearses").

Wordsworth celebrates the beauty of a landscape, while Blake angrily condemns the corruption of a great urban center.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 8, 2020
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