What are the structure and the poetic devices used in the poem "London"?

The structure used in the poem "London" is four quatrains with an ABAB rhyme scheme written in iambic tetrameter. The poetic devices used include alliteration, anaphora, repetition, and paradox. These devices create a somber tone.

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The rhythm, meter and rhyme scheme of this poem are almost deceptively straightforward. The poem comprises four stanzas, with the rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF DGDG. There is some element of continuity in the "D" sound being echoed again in the fourth stanza, picking up the word "hear" from the second stanza. This highlights the idea of London as a place filled with the sounds of its hidden miseries, if only we, like the poet, are willing to pay enough attention and actually listen.

A poetic device is simply a literary device used within the course of a poem. Structure, rhyme and meter are themselves poetic devices, and as discussed above, they can help to strengthen the poet's meaning and tone. Other poetic devices in this poem might include anaphora: Blake repeats the phrase "In every" at the beginning of each line in the second stanza. He also chooses to do this three times, which is an example of the use of the so-called rule of three, a rhetorical idea that if a phrase or word is repeated three times, it is most likely to be effective and lodge in the mind of the reader or listener.

The poet also makes considerable use of vivid imagery which alludes to Biblical plagues. In the final line, "plagues" are mentioned specifically; the image of blood running "down Palace walls" is also a vivid image which creates the idea that blood is on the hands of the wealth in particular.

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The poem consists of four quatrains written in iambic tetrameter: eight syllables (or four feet) in which the emphasis falls on the second syllable in each foot, as in "I WAN der THRO..." Every other line in each quatrain rhymes, making it an ABAB rhyme scheme. This creates the singsong effect of a nursery rhyme or the even rhythms of a tolling death bell. Alliteration also adds a sense of rhythm, with repeated "m" sounds in the first and second stanza (which also repeats the "w" sound), repeated "ch" sounds in the third, and repeated "bl" sounds in the fourth. Alliteration draws attention to and puts emphasis on certain words, such as "blasts" and "blights" in stanza 4.

Blake uses poetic devices to establish a bleak, somber tone. He employs anaphora, in which the first word or words in a line are repeated to create a sense of litany. This occurs in stanza two, in the repetition of "In every" at the beginning of the first three lines. He also uses imagery, which is description using any of the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. The imagery reveals suffering, such as the marks of "woe" or sadness on people's faces, the fearful cries of infants, and the blood running down palace walls.

Opposites are juxtaposed as well to create a sense of paradox, such as in the final line, in which the harlots

blight...with plagues the Marriage hearse

We don't usually put together marriages and hearses, as the first word conjures joy and new life, while the second conjures sadness and death. However, the juxtaposition is effective in showing how the suffering of the poor, who pass on venereal diseases to the middle classes, invades the life of the more comfortable.

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The poem "London" by William Blake consists of four stanzas, with each stanza consisting of four lines. The lines are written in iambic tetrameter and rhymed ABAB. This means that we can describe the poem as consisting of four iambic tetrameter open quatrains.

The poem is narrated in the first person. The narrator is walking about London and observing the miseries and misfortunes of its inhabitants and meditating on them. In literary terms, we have a first person narrator whose observations are limited to what a person might actually hear and see on such a walk, sharing his inner thoughts with the reader. 

One major device used in the poem is repetition. Words such as "chartered," "every," "mark," and "hear" are repeated to emphasize the universality of commerce, its evil effects, and the way the results of commercial and spiritual downfall can be observed by the ears and eyes of the narrator or anyone else walking in London.

Alliteration is also common, with repeated sounds suggesting a connection between "chartered," "church," and "chimney-sweepers" with commercialism and a corrupt church being blamed for the miseries of the young boys sweeping chimneys.

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In Blake's, "London," the speaker uses an adult narrator who is walking through the streets of London, a city that is not only the capitol of England, but the capitol of the British Empire.  The city, as the speaker experiences it, falls short of what it should be, in the speaker's (and Blake's, by extension) perception.

Humans suffer under charters, regulations, popular opinions and mores, which all lead to "mind-forged manacles." 

The speaker uses rhyme, with every other line rhyming in each stanza.  He uses repetition:  "In every..."; "charter'd"; "mark" and "Marks"; "cry."  He uses alliteration:  "And the hapless Soldiers sigh...."

The poem also uses allusion, referring to the "Chimney-sweepers" who appear in other poems in Blake's collections Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience (in which "London" is included).

Rhyme, repetition, consistency of theme, and the linear walk through the streets of the narrator, create unity in the poem, with the speaker's opening of the final stanza leading to the final thoughts:

But most thro' midnight streets I hear....

And in the final stanza we see what sex and marriage in London lead to, what women having to sell themselves to survive leads to, and what marriage that must be maintained because society says so leads to. 

 

 

 

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