Snaith // London - Context & Analysis



The peom appears in Blake's collection Songs of Innocence and Experience: Showing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. Innocence and Experience here refer to two stages of consciousness, Innocence being the childlike state of naivety, and Experience being the loss of this childhood vitality by interaction with opressive mechanisms such as the Church, the State, and the ruling classes.

London is unique in this collection in that it is one of the few poems in Songs of Experience that does not have a corresponding poem in Songs of Innocence. This is perhaps intended to point out the fact that poverty and want are entirely man-made conceptions and have no basis in the primary nature of Man (the 'Innocence').



Blake repeats the adjective charter'd and applies it to the River Thames, emphasising how Man (or, rather, the ruling classes) has took monopolised nature, took control of it and wielded it as a part of the superstructure of opression. This interpretation matches history, as the Enclosure Acts which privatised common land were opposed by many progressives, and although most of them had already been passed by the time the poem was written there was still some opposition and resistance.

The words 'every', 'each' suggest the omnipresence of the poverty and suffering he is describing. This is especially prevelant in the third paragraph, where the word every is repeated 5 times. Blake's description of 'mind-forged manacles' again alludes to the idea of Innocence and…


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