Explain how the poem "London" is from The Songs of Experience.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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We can easily see that the poem "London" belongs to the Experience side of this incredible collection of poems through its tone and subject. One of the characteristics of the Songs of Experience in this collection of poetry is the way in which they focus on the grimy reality of human pain and suffering and how to a certain extent they have become institutionalised by the state and church. The tone of such poems is therefore incredibly bitter and sad as it expresses these realities, which is of course incredibly different from the rather naive optimism that is expressed in the Songs of Innocence.

I know your question says that I should not use quotes, but allow me to just use the second stanza to prove my point:

In every cry of every man,

In every infant's cry of fear,

In every voice, in every ban,

The mind-forged manacles I hear:

This is a key stanza and the phrase of "mind-forged manacles" is oft-quoted to support the way in which this poem presents pain and suffering as something that is not necessary or unavoidable. Poverty, Blake suggests in this phrase, is often a result of the "mind-forged manacles" that lead us to believe in the status quo and that things cannot be improved or changed. If we were but able to break off those "manacles" and have the imagination to try and live a different life, then the bleak picture of our existence could be very different. For these reasons, this poem is definitely an example of the Experience section in this collection of poetry.

 

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