The romantic period was a very prolific period in poetry, producing some of the most important poets in the history of English literature. The poetry written by the romantics is very emotional and much more complex and advanced than that written previous. It provides and insight into the minds of the poets, and can show their thoughts and feelings. The two poems “London” and “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” or (“Westminster Bridge” shortened for the purpose of time saving) are perfect for comparison as each is about essentially the same thing, yet shows two completely different views on it.

“London” was written by William Blake, who was born in 1752 and died in 1827. It shows his view of London, which he has accumulated within this time. This poem is quite depressing in tone, it’s bleak and negative about London on the whole.

The first stanza is a first person account of walking through the streets, all of which are owned by the government, as is the Thames. He describes people who look weak and woeful. The second stanza describes how he can hear the restrictions on the people enforced by the government in the voices of the babies and men. He describes the strict laws as “mind-forg’d manacles”. The third stanza describes the church’s ignorance of the appalling trade of children chimney sweepers.

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He also describes they sooty residue, which makes the churches black, this could be conceived as a metaphor for corruption. Then he goes on to describe how the palace walls are tainted by the blood of soldiers who died helplessly, but this is probably a metaphor and not physical blood suggesting that the he views the palace as a place which promotes war and causes the deaths of men sent to war. The last stanza describes the sound of a prostitute giving birth, which represents the sound of the death of marriage.

Throughout this poem Blake uses lots of grammatical devices. He uses a metaphor to describe the strict restrictions of law by describing them as mind forged manacles. He implies that the people of London are trapped by a fear of leaving. He uses repetition to emphasise his points, and at the end uses an oxymoron to create a sense of impact when he describes the “marriage hearse”. Marriage is supposed to be about a new life, where as a hearse is the carrier of death.

“Westminster Brid1ge” is written by William Wordsworth. It is a description of his experience of London but is a more cheerful description as opposed to the deep seeded loathing of London shown by William Blake.

He says that there is nothing more beautiful on earth, and that only a soulless person would pass by without appreciating its majesty. He describes how it’s serenity and beauty is worn like a garment. The sky is depicted as glittering and bright as the sun rises more brilliantly than he has ever experienced before. He goes on to illustrate the magnificence of the river and how calm the city is as it sleeps.

Wordsworth uses far more grammatical devices than Blake. Personification is a major theme used to enforce the image of London being a living breathing being and is used as an extended metaphor throughout the poem. The first instance is where is describes London as wearing it’s beauty and tranquillity. It then describes the sun soaking in “his first splendour”. Then the river is depicted as “glideth at his own sweet will” implying that it has a mind of it’s own and is controlling it’s own speed. Then he implies that the houses are asleep and describes the people as a heart that is lying still. All of the personification emphasises his love for the city and how he views it in comparison to humans. He also uses hyperbole when he says that there is nothing ore beautiful on the earth than London.

It is evident these two poets have very contrasting views of London, each presenting their view in poem form. Neither is wrong or right, but one’s view might appeal more to one person and less to another. They both use grammatical devices well to convey their opinion and both create lush imagery in the reader’s mind, whether it be gory or beautiful.


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