What aspects of Romantic literature are evident in William Blake's poem "London"?

The aspects of Romantic literature evident in “London” are high emotions, mediations on the evil of the city, and a focus on the plight of the poor. The language of the poem is very emotional, consonant with Wordsworth’s idea of Romantic poetry as the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” He also depicts London as a place of darkness and evil, and writes about the misery of the poor, crushed by a tyrannical system.

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William Blake’s “London” presents a first person speaker remarking upon the misery of London life in a strongly emotional manner. This is an instance of the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” which Wordsworth saw as an important feature of Romanticism. The language of the poem is highly emotive. People in the street are marked by “weakness” and “woe.” Men and children cry in fear. The sigh of soldiers is so terrible that it is transmuted into blood. Harlots curse, and even marriage is plagued with death.

Although Blake, unlike Wordsworth, was not primarily a nature poet, he also features the Romantic trope that the city is a dark, evil place, full of human suffering, to be contrasted with the beauty of nature. The only natural feature in the poem is the river Thames, and even this is “charter’d” like the streets. Blake’s London is a squalid place, where palace walls run with blood.

Finally, there is the concern with social justice, and the plight of the...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 822 words.)

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