Heres a virtual movie of the great poet ,artist and mystic William Blake reading his wonderful profound almost pre-Dickensian poem "London" London is a poem by William Blake, published in Songs of Experience in 1794. It is one of the few poems in Songs of Experience which does not have a corresponding poem in Songs of Innocence. As with most of Blake's poetry, there are several critical interpretations of London. The most common interpretation, favored by critics such as Camille Paglia and E.P. Thompson, holds that London is primarily a social protest. A less frequently held view is that of Harold Bloom; that London primarily is Blake's response to the tradition of Biblical prophecy. The use of the word 'Chartered' is ambiguous. It may express the political and economic control that Blake considered London to be enduring at the time of his writing. Blake's friend Thomas Paine had criticised the granting of Royal Charters to control trade as a form of class oppression. However, 'chartered' could also mean 'freighted', and may refer to the busy or overburdened streets and river, or to the licenced trade carried on within them. In Blake's notebook, the word 'chartered' originally read, 'dirty' In Thompson's view, Blake was an unorthodox Christian of the dissenting tradition, who felt that the state was abandoning those in need. He was heavily influenced by mystical groups. The poem reflects Blake's extreme disillusionment with the suffering he saw in London. The reference to a harlot blighting the 'marriage hearse' with 'plague' is usually understood to refer to the spread of venereal disease in the city, passed by a prostitute to a man and thence his bride, so that marriage can become a sentence of death. The poem was published during the upheavals of the French Revolution, and the city of London was suffering political and social unrest, due to the marked social and working inequalities of the time. An understandably nervous government had responded by introducing restrictions on the freedom of speech and the mobilisation of foreign mercenaries. The City of London was a town that was shackled to landlords and owners that controlled and demeaned the majority of the lower and middle classes. Within the poem that bears the city's name, Blake describes 18th century London as a conurbation filled with people who understood, with depressing wisdom, both the hopelessness and misery of their situation. William Blake (28 November 1757 -- 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry has led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". Although he lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God", or "Human existence itself".
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2010
I wander through each chartered street, Near where the chartered Thames does flow, And mark in every face I meet, Marks of weakness, marks of woe. 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:
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